Trust seems to be an elusive concept when it comes to our close and personal relationships. What even is trust? I like to define trust as it relates to our close relationships in this way: consistently being able to count on another to support you and build you up. On the flipside of trust is distrust. Distrust is established by applying the opposite of the definition stated above; specifically, someone not being supportive or building you up. With these simple definitions as a guide, I’d like to show you that trust is much more simple to understand and develop than many believe.
The Simple Practice
In our close relationships there are dozens of opportunities presented to us each day to either build or erode trust. Here are some examples that may be familiar to you. You and your partner are driving together and your partner notices a nice home and makes the comment, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a house like that someday?” At this point you could do one of three things. One, you could make a comment such as, “Keep dreaming. You know we’ll never be able to afford that.” Or two, you could remain silent and pay no attention to the comment. Both of these options would lead to a slight erosion of trust. Your partner is giving you an opportunity to turn towards them and by choosing either of the above options you are choosing to turn away from them. The third option is to say something like, “That is a nice home! I can picture us now sitting on the porch waving to our neighbors.” And just like that, you’ve turned towards your partner. This comment will likely lead to a positive conversation about the future and the vision you each have for it. An opportunity that would have been lost with either of the first two responses.
Another example is when your partner begins talking about an interest or hobby of theirs. It may be shopping, hunting, crafting, sports, or games. Whatever the interest, there’s a good chance that particular interest is not all that exciting for you. Just as in the example above, you have three options. Two of those will erode trust, one will build it. The payoff for saying, “Tell me more about that” is well worth the effort.
There are countless other ways that partners will seek to connect throughout the day. Are you too distracted with work, your phone, or the TV to notice those?
If so, not being emotionally available will lead to the erosion of trust in your relationship. Take time to put down your phone, unplug from social media and connect with your partner by turning towards them in conversation.
Remember, trust is developed through small, consistent efforts. Trust is eroded in the same way. How you consistently respond to your partner in those regular, daily interactions will have a large impact on your level of trust over time.