Trust is a hard thing to define. It is more of a gut feeling than an absolute proof of something. There is the element of believing in something that can't be predicted or proven. In relationships, trust is about faith as much as it is about demonstrated truths.
When your partner leaves for work, what guarantee do you have that they will come back home to you? You can say "For 10 years they have so I expect them to continue to do that." This is valid, but is it a guarantee? There are stories of it not happening.
Trust is more about your belief. "I believe that my partner loves me and will come home to me tonight." It's a belief so strong that you feel like you “know” this to be true. This is what makes us vulnerable to each other as well as intimately connected. Mistrust is a fear-based feeling and gets in the way of that connection. The intensity of this fear can cripple a relationship.
A loving relationship takes two people to participate and it is that way with trust, as well. There are a few things necessary in a relationship for trust to flourish.
Devotion is critical in a relationship and for trust to happen. If one person is unfaithful then the fear cycle rules this relationship. Yes, there have always been different ways to define love and relationships including “free love” and most recently “polyamory”. Regardless of this, there is still a human need to feel safe with another person as a partner.
Put the relationship first and express that whenever you can. When you take the time to compliment your partner or praise the relationship to them or other people, you are showing that you can step back and let the relationship, and your partner, shine. This will help your partner build their self-esteem about themselves and about their role in the relationship. With this level of belief in themselves and the relationship, trust will come as natural outcome.
Learn to forgive your partner and yourself. If you just say the words but in a future fight bring up past “injustices” you will earn no trust. Holding onto old grudges or resentments fuels future problems. Trust happens when you or your partner say “I’m sorry” and that’s the end of that. Don’t save up ammo for future fights. It always works against trust.
Support each other. This goes a long way to building trust. When you feel that your partner will stand beside you no matter what, and you would do the same for them, huge trust is created. Just like devotion, support removes fear. The fear that my partner may not support me when the “chips are down” and may even turn against me creates great fear.
Decide what is more important to you, being right or being loved. Sometimes people go out of their way to be right in the relationship and throw away the love. If the relationship is truly important to you, give your ego a rest now and then, compromise or concede. If you’re more interested in being right, prepare to have a rugged road ahead in all of your relationships.
Live with integrity. Say what you’ll do and do what you say. These are good words for anything in life, but especially true in close relationships. Integrity results in trust. If you are seen as having integrity then you will become known as someone whose words can be trusted. In a relationship, this is golden.
Trust is necessary for an intimate relationship to grow and be healthy. Challenges in a relationship can sometimes be linked to one (or both) of the people just skirting the edge of trust. Even this allows fear to creep in, and that’s a big killer of many relationships.
Look for ways to improve trust in your relationship. You and your partner will both benefit from the effort.
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