7 Ways to Build Trust in Your Relationship

A couple holds hands as they build trust in their relationship

We've all done those team-building and trust exercises at work, but how can we build trust in our romantic relationships? Here are seven ways.

Key takeaways:

  • Trust is essential to a healthy relationship.

  • Research has shown that jealousy (which can be caused by low trust) is associated with negative behavior and aggression.

  • Characteristics of trust in a relationship include creating a safe space for each other, constructively addressing conflict, and having open and honest communication.

  • Effective communication is vital to building trust.

  • Respect is another important feature that fosters trust.

  • Trust takes time and consistency to build.

  • Taking risks together can increase assurance.

  • Research also validates the importance of reciprocity in a relationship.

Trust is essential to any healthy relationship, whether it be with family, friends, or a partner. It’s especially important in romantic relationships due to their intimate nature. There can be no real intimacy without trust. In fact, research has shown that jealousy (which can be a side effect of low trust) is associated with negative behaviors and aggression.

You may have a difficult time trusting because of past experiences, or maybe you’re just looking to improve your relationship. Either way, building trust is fundamental to having a loving, happy relationship. Keep reading to learn how you can build trust in yours.

Characteristics of a trustworthy relationship

We can probably all agree that trust is important in a relationship. But, what does it actually look like in action? Here are some examples:

  • You address conflict in a constructive way

  • You both create a positive and safe space for each other

  • Questions and curiosity are encouraged

  • Information is shared freely

  • You make decisions together

While some people might think that never arguing means a relationship is healthy, the truth is that relationship trust and safety come from the ability to resolve conflict productively. You and your partner are human beings and you will get angry. The best sign of relationship health is not that it’s perfect without any work – it’s that it’s continually growing in a positive way with the right kind of work. Here are seven ways to build trust together.

1. Practice effective communication

One of the biggest reasons relationships suffer and break down is because of communication – whether it’s a lack of it, or it’s poor and ineffective. Having good communication creates clarity in a relationship. That includes clarity about your commitment and role in the relationship. Good communication is important all the time, not just during conflict.

Here are some signs of good communication:

  • You balance speaking and listening.

  • You use “I” statements.

  • You’re mindful of your body language.

  • You use active listening.

Improving your communication skills will undoubtedly improve your relationships!

2. Have respect for your partner

Respect is another important hallmark of a healthy relationship. When your partner does something to hurt or betray you, you’re likely to feel that they don’t respect you. Respect is a building block upon which other things, like good communication, are built. Demonstrating a lack of respect for our partners can be damaging to trust, so it’s important to treat them with respect if we want to gain their trust.

3. Remember that trust takes time

Relationships take time to build – and so does trust. Just as staying together involves making the decision to consciously do so each day, so does building trust. Trusting your partner is a daily commitment, and it’s okay to start small. As your trust is rewarded, you’ll find yourself more at ease with bigger commitments in the relationship.

4. Take risks together

Being vulnerable can feel risky. Although discussions around vulnerability are usually focused on emotional vulnerability, being vulnerable with your partner can be a great shared bonding experience. This can mean something like taking on challenges together, such as building healthier habits or embarking on an adventurous vacation experience. Bonus: Studies show that fear-induced arousal can boost sexual attraction – so go ahead and do something that scares you.

5. Be consistent

Trust happens as a result of consistency. We’re less likely to trust someone who behaves irrationally, erratically, or unpredictably. When someone’s behaviors are predictable and consistent, it’s much easier to trust them.

6. Give as good as you get

Reciprocity is important to relationships, especially romantic ones. It’s not that you and your partner need to keep a running score of who’s getting and who’s giving, but both of you should feel equally fulfilled in the relationship. Emotionally mature people understand that the balance of giving and receiving will never quite be 50/50 and that the balance can shift depending on each partner’s needs and the relationship’s needs. Having trust means that each partner has faith the other party will step up to meet their needs.

7. Be open and honest

Trust can take a long time to build and can be destroyed in an instant by a careless lie or other deception. Be open and honest with your partner – not only does it build trust, but it also creates emotional safety by opening the lines of communication.