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The Importance of Trust in Relationships: Expert Advice on How to Build It

What’s challenging to create, easy to damage, and absolutely necessary for a healthy romantic relationship? Trust. Your connection might begin with a sweet encounter and a spark, but for a relationship to last, you must be able to say “I trust you” when describing your feelings for your partner.

“If you want a strong, joyful, long-lasting relationship, you need to focus on building and keeping trust,” says Theresa Herring, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Other important things like emotional closeness and connection can’t happen without trust.”

Similar to many important things in life, trust doesn’t magically appear. It requires effort; more than a few trust falls from high school. However, the rewards are tremendous. Firstly, knowing your partner won’t bail when things get tough, you’ll feel secure in your relationship. You’ll feel safe, accepted, and genuinely loved.

The not-so-good news is that trust is fragile. Everyone enters relationships with their own past experiences, some of which might involve broken trust. (Thanks a lot, ex-partners.)

Are you ready to dive in? Keep reading for all you need to know about creating trust in your relationship, with advice from trustworthy relationship experts.

Why is building trust essential?

Trust forms the bedrock of numerous aspects of a strong relationship. Investing time in cultivating this connection increases happiness and security as a couple. Theresa Herring highlights that “when there’s trust, everything else seems a bit smoother and more secure.” With that in mind, here are some specific reasons why building trust in relationships matters:

1. It reduces conflicts

In any relationship, finding a sense of peace and comfort is crucial—not just during cozy TV nights on the couch. But you know what doesn’t contribute to peace? Feeling like you need to constantly monitor your partner or worry about their actions when you’re apart. The more these intense emotions build up, the more likely they are to surface at inconvenient moments, often leading to unproductive conversations.

Dr. Sarah Hunter Murray, a sex researcher and relationship therapist, explains that trust in relationships provides a sense of security, which translates into a more relaxed and peaceful atmosphere instead of being on edge, hyper-alert, or tense.

2. Show responsiveness and engagement

Have you ever had those moments when you pour your heart out, only to realize that no one has been truly listening? It’s a pretty awful feeling, isn’t it? And it’s certainly not the way to nurture trust.

Shawntres Parks advises, “When you’re communicating or spending time with your partner, be fully present and tuned in to their feelings and experiences.” Being tuned in means using both your verbal and non-verbal communication to demonstrate that you’re genuinely attentive and that what they share matters to you. This might even mean occasionally putting your phone down. (Don’t worry, you’ll survive!)

3. Show commitment and consistency

Just as a strong house requires layer upon layer of bricks to become a home, relationships demand committed and consistent efforts. These actions, repeated over time, can help alleviate doubt and stress.

Shawntres Parks emphasizes that any action to foster a positive connection in the relationship must be repeated. Commit to following through with your promises, not just for a short-term reward or acknowledgment. Consistency is about the long-term commitment.

4. Embrace vulnerability

Break down those emotional barriers! Sharing your inner thoughts and feelings can be awkward, raw, and pretty darn intimidating. But it’s a risk worth taking. While it might not come naturally at first, it’s a fantastic way to become more comfortable with your partner.

According to Firestone, people often mistake vulnerability for weakness. She says, “When you close yourself off to someone, they don’t really get to know the real you. So, how can they truly understand you? And if you’re hiding parts of yourself, you won’t feel genuinely accepted and loved. You might feel accepted and loved for the persona you’re projecting, but not for who you truly are.” Well said.

5. Make quality time a priority

We know it’s another “put down your phones” moment. But let’s face it, trust isn’t likely to grow if the only time you spend together involves sharing TikToks. It means setting aside dedicated time for each other so you can have those open, vulnerable conversations.

Shawntres Parks explains, “Prioritizing quality time provides more chances to practice being emotionally available, responsive, and engaged. It also helps you and your partner understand your personal boundaries and relationship expectations.”

6. Show mutual respect

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s included for a reason. While it’s a fundamental aspect of being human, it can often be taken for granted. Theresa Herring emphasizes, “Disrespectful behavior like belittling, criticizing, and yelling can quickly erode trust. Over time, it can make rebuilding trust nearly impossible.”

To address this, establish ground rules for your disagreements, as respect often becomes an issue during arguments. Commit to avoid behaviors that you find unacceptable. For instance, if name-calling or cursing is something you want to prevent, identify those actions and stick to your agreed-upon rules.

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