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I like the Beatles just as much as anyone else, but I have to say…love is nothing without trust.
And I love love.
Very much. I think love is the single most incredible feeling in the entire world. But it doesn’t have a shot at lasting without trust. Not. A. Shot.
I also value trust because I don’t think it comes very easily. Love is impulsive. It’s irrational and illogical and uncontrollable. We don’t teach ourselves to fall in love. We don’t force it, either. It just happens. Anybody can fall in love. But not everybody can trust.
Trust takes work. It takes dedication. It takes maturity. And it takes a lot of self-development. It’s the blue ribbon in a sea of participation certificates. So it’s no wonder that those of us who haven’t reached the pinnacle of trust desperately want to conquer it.
And that’s where we come in.
Below are some concrete tips on how to build trust in relationships – specifically in romantic relationships. Because building trust in relationships is what will carry you through the easy times, the hard times, and the in between times.
Ok, I’ll admit it. This is probably the chicken and the egg thingamabob. If you don’t trust someone, you probably pick at all of the small things. Or, is it that if you pick at all of the small things, you inherently lose trust? Honestly, who cares. Neither is good.
Small things are the bane of a healthy relationship’s existence. There is absolutely no reason to focus your hard earned energy on something insignificant in a relationship. The key however is, what’s supposed to be labeled an insignificant ‘small thing,’ or an important ‘small thing’?
Values. It’s all in the values.
If your significant other does something that violates a value of yours – that’s not a small thing. And *this* is exactly how the small things compile into one, large, scary, monster that explodes all over your pretty relationship. They were NEVER small things. They just didn’t get the attention they deserved.
However, for the other small things, the things that might bother you but don’t necessarily violate a value of yours – let it go. Trust that your partner has good intentions. Trust that your partner didn’t mean a thing by it. Trust that your partner has your back. Trust that your partner slipped up. Whatever it is, trust that you don’t have to call out every small thing in order to have a great relationship. Build the trust, and let it go.
Trust is all about perception. If we perceive that someone loves us, then we trust that they love us. It’s as simple as that. So use all of the facts you perceive to be true in your life to support building trust in your life.
It sounds complicated, but it’s not.
Here are some common facts in relationships:
1. You are in a monogamous relationship
2. Your partner is a good person
3. You mean a great deal to them
4. They do nice things for you
5. They like spending time with you
Those are ALL amazing facts. Now, there might be some other not so amazing facts in your corner as well. Things like…
1. Your partner doesn’t always have the right thing to say at the right moment
2. They have bad days because of work or other life stressors
3. Sometimes when they get busy, they don’t text as often
4. PDA isn’t really their thing
5. They are bad at planning
You can choose to focus on the first five facts, or you can choose to focus on the latter five facts. Totally up to you. But one of them is going to build trust, and the other isn’t. And I am going to assume that you like this person and want to be a in relationship with this person and think they are deserving of your love – hence, you know, the relationship. So give positivity a shot. The more beneficial factors you perceive, the more trust you will build. Positive facts will always be your greatest relationship asset.
Always. Always. Always.
We’ve all read/seen Gone Girl. We all know “Cool Amy.” The girl who drinks regular Coke and eats pizza because it’s “cool” – but secretly hates what she’s doing to her body. On the surface, she never cares about dirty jokes or sexism, she plays video games, and LOVES sports. Nothing bothers her. Ever. In fact, she’s so go with the flow you wonder if ANYTHING will push her buttons. She even has a smile on her face when her boyfriend is acting like a total jerk.
Please don’t be the “cool girl” because you think you have to be in order to gain the respect of a man. You don’t have to drink Budweiser or watch action films or anything else unless YOU want to. Otherwise it’s fake. And that can only last for so long.
Now, I’m not calling you a sociopath if you’ve ever done this before. WE ALL HAVE. Cool Kali watched SportsCenter and loved skiing and shotgunned beers because, hey, it’s Wednesday! Let’s just say real Kali can’t tell you one player on the LA Lakers (Is Shaq still there?), hates cold weather more than black olives on pizza (seriously freaking gross) and only drinks red wine. Sipping – not chugging.
If someone met Cool Kali and then turned around to find out that Real Kali is nothing like her…how could there be any trust? And how pissed off would that guy be lololololol.
Anyway point is you can’t have trust in someone else if you aren’t even being honest with yourself. If you are “putting on a show” for someone else – that is a huge red flag. More than likely you feel like you aren’t good enough in your natural state, or that your partner is probably faking things for you, too.
This is where the insecurity, suspicious thoughts, and paranoia comes from. This is where trust goes to die. And in order to resurrect it, you have to be honest.
When your partner violates one of your values, speak up. If they piss you off, say something. If they do something absolutely incredible and you want to shower them with love, kiss them! Don’t hold yourself back. Be unapologetically you. Because if you can be your most vulnerable, your most authentic, and your most uninhibited version of yourself, you will ignite that in your partner as well. And just like that, trust will blossom all over the damn place. Yay!
I mentioned this before – but I am going to reiterate for emphasis sake.
Do not be afraid to set boundaries and stick to them – especially when it comes to trust. Privacy boundaries in particular are rather important for trust. We have a tendency to…snoop…if you will, when we feel anxious or unsettled about the security of our relationship. So it’s best to think about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable for privacy concerns in relationships.
For example, I’ve been in relationships where reading each other’s text messages, emails, or anything else is an absolute no-no. That is a complete violation of privacy, and if one violates that boundary, there will be consequences that usually come in the form of someone getting bitched out.
My current relationship has almost the opposite take on things. Emails, text messages, and the liking are free game. It’s not a mandatory thing. In fact it’s not really a thing at all. It’s just a casual approach towards privacy. Everything is pretty much out in the open. Passwords are shared (but mostly for convenience) and anything goes. Gift giving is a a bit tricky considering it’s hard to conceal a paper trail, but that’s just the way it goes.
Neither scenario is wrong (sans the bitching out part). Each relationship has their own rules and that’s great as long as it’s agreed upon. But it’s imperative to dig deep in order to figure out your boundaries. And then you have to share them. This is a collaborative experience – be sure to ask about your partner’s boundaries and make a real solid effort to respect them every inch of the way.
Not as easy as it sounds. But we gotta try.
In order to trust, you have to let go. You have to give your partner enough credit not to micromanage, remind, belittle, or question. You just have to trust that they value you as a friend, as a partner, and as a person.
So you have to trust that they will see cute humans around and not act on anything. You have to trust that they are respecting you no matter how far away they might be at certain times. You have to trust that they always have your back, no matter how high the cards are stacked up against you.
Anything short of this isn’t trust. It’s conditional. And it’s not a way to sustain a relationship.
You can still share control of the relationship with your partner (along with life circumstance), but you cannot control your partner. And in trying to do so, you will only make yourself miserable. Control’s side effects shows up in nasty panic attacks, self sabotage, paranoia, insecurity, jealously, and anger. It’s not pretty. And you know what I’m talking about, because we have all felt it at some point or another.
Don’t do this to yourself. Let go of control. Because the less you try to control, the more you will rely on trust.
This isn’t easy. I know. But it’s worth it. Don’t fear rejection. Don’t fear getting hurt. You have survived one or both before and are doing just fine, thank you very much. Trust is worth any consequences because once you find the *right* person to trust – then it sets you free. You will never be happier, healthier, or more secure once you cultivate this state of mind.
If you need help gaining it, that’s what we are here for. Work with a life coach to dive into why you’re feeling held back, concrete ways to break through, and how to sustain a healthy dose of trust in your life.
Also published on Medium.