Establishing and Sustaining Trust in Our Relationships

There is a trope in the business world that could just as easily be applied to our interpersonal relationships. “People do business with those they know, like and trust.” Ideally, people create, cultivate, and sustain relationships with those they are willing to know, love and trust. Becoming familiar with a significant other takes time and the element of trust needs to be at the forefront. Taking the risk to be emotionally vulnerable can be frightening, but ultimately rewarding if it is received with appreciation and care. Consider the honor being bestowed when another person shows you who they truly are, without subterfuge. Engaging in healthy relationships implies a willingness to reveal ourselves fully and freely over time. 

Sadly, people enter relationships with baggage that contains memories of wounds; times when they opened their hearts to allow someone in, only to have that sacred space disrespected. Childhood trauma and adult interactions in which abuse occurred, has people ducking for cover in their relationships, or creating a persona that they feel will protect their tender hearts. In a powerful Youtube video called The Anatomy of Trust, Brené Brown, author of Rising StrongThe Gifts of Imperfection, and Daring Greatly, speaks of the initiation and sustenance of trust. She tells the story of the sense of betrayal her daughter Ellen felt when a friend shared personal information that she had asked to keep private. Her daughter then explained something that her teacher used to maintain appropriate behavior in the classroom that involved marbles in a jar. When the students did something positive, a marble got added to the jar. When they did something negative, one got removed. The same is true of potential partners. They need to ‘earn our marbles’ (trust). Imagine doing that in our romantic relationships. Would our jars be filled to overflowing or in deficit? 

Writer Edie Moser created this useful acronym for TRUST

Truth – factual, not relying on perception.
Reliability – consistency, walking the talk, accountability.
Understanding – fueled by empathy. Can I walk a mile in your moccasins?
Sincerity – coming from the heart as an example of true caring about another person.
Time – developed over a series of moments with proven reliability. 

According to Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University, “To have trust in a relationship means that you feel a sense of security and loyalty with your partner.”  Romanoff adds, “To trust means to rely on another person because you feel safe with them and have confidence that they will not hurt or violate you. Trust is the foundation of relationships because it allows you to be vulnerable and open up to the person without having to defensively protect yourself.”

Integrity is an aspect of trust. Saying what we mean and meaning what we say — without saying it meanly — is core to creating safety between partners. Following through on agreements is foundational in a relationship built on trust. 

Having healthy boundaries contributes to a sense of trust. Boundaries are those invisible borders that help us maintain autonomy and personal sovereignty, as well as the freedom to say yes to what we want and no to what we don’t want, regardless of the opinions or expectations of others. 

Having clear and solid boundaries contributes to a sense of trust. When we express assertively what we are comfortable and uncomfortable with in our relationship and a partner respects our requests, trust is created and sustained. 

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ― Maya Angelou 

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