How to build trust in a relationship in 5 steps
Honesty is the key to building trust in a relationship
We can all agree that trust in a relationship is essential. However, do we always practise what we preach? According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, when a person is looking for love, trust is the most desired quality in a partner, ahead of personality, common values and sexual compatibility.1 However, the study also revealed that, on average, in one in five interactions with another human being – we will tell a lie. On the plus side, married couples lie once in every ten interactions, but for new couples, a lie is told in one in three interactions!
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So, how are we to build trust in a relationship when we continue to lie to those we are closest to? Well, it’s pretty simple really, just be honest. Here are our 5 steps towards a relationship built on a foundation of honesty, with advice from our EliteSingles psychologist, Salama Marine.
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Step One: Be honest with yourself
In order to be honest with your partner, you must first be honest with yourself. It is important to really know what we think and feel about the world around us. Salama advises that, "we set our own opinions and not the opinions influenced by our culture or our family." By understanding our own opinions on issues such as relationships, marriage, raising children etc., we will then find it easier to be honest when these topics arise in conversation with our partners.
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Step Two: Actions speak louder than words
After several years of relationship, the words spoken between two partners may tend to lose their original meaning. The most common example is the famous 'I love you'. At the beginning of a relationship, saying to one another ‘I love you’ is deeply meaningful. However, over the years the more the phrase is repeated, the more automatic and mechanical it becomes. The words lose their initial intensity.
In order to avoid this, Salama explains that, "our words must have meaning. When one partner says 'I love you', their actions must follow their statement." For example, make an effort to spend more time together, or break your daily routine with a spontaneous romantic gesture.
Step Three: Don’t hide your vulnerable side
To be honest with your partner may seem to be rather obvious advice, but many of us are mistaken on what being ‘honest’ truly means. When we hear the word ‘honesty’ we often tend to think of it in negative terms, as a form of criticism, a way in which to express a disagreement with your partner. But, to be honest also means voicing your own feelings without fear of be vulnerable. Salama gives the example of being disappointed that your partner is not present enough because he or she works too hard. "The classic criticism might be to say 'you work too much, you're never there, you prefer your work to our relationship,' but if you are honest with yourself, what you are really feeling in this situation is vulnerability. Instead say, 'when you're not here I miss you.'" Your choice of words is extremely important in expressing your true feelings.
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Step Four: Learn to accept criticism
Building trust in a relationship is a two way street. In order to have an honest relationship with your partner, you must also be ready to accept their honesty, even if it is a criticism of you. It is important to be able to see things from the perspective of your partner. Salama advises that "It is best not to be in a defensive position and to step back to analyse the situation." Take time to listen to your partner, and try to understand their side of the argument. Both of you should feel free to express your feelings without fear of the reaction from the other; this is the basis of any healthy relationship.
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Step Five: Don’t lose your independence
When you are in the early stages of a loving relationship, the temptation to spend all your time together is great, but to feel a closeness to someone does not mean being inseparable. Salama explains that, "in order to build a truly strong relationship, it’s important to keep your independence – having separate friends for example helps to maintain an equal balance between the two of you. This way, one partner will not be more reliant on the other. If you can trust your partner and allow them to flourish outside of the relationship, you will ultimately flourish together as a pair too."
Honesty ultimately is the key to build trust in a relationship. Be honest with yourself and your partner and your relationship will strengthen each day.
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About Salama Marine:
Salama Marine trained at the Paris College of Psychological Practitioners, and is now a registered Psychologist helping people with their interpersonal relationships in the realm of love, sex and marriage. She has worked extensively within the online dating industry, and provides consultation to those wishing to connect with like-minded partners online.