Perhaps the most essential key to success in your relationship is trust. Love is the purpose for being in the relationship but trust is what holds it together. No amount of Love is sufficient when you don't have trust and once trust is broken, it is sometimes impossible for you to regain it .
At times it can be challenging to trust, especially when you have been hurt in the past. Often in new relationships we are suspicious, we doubt the person's motives, and so we don't really ever learn to trust them. This protects us from pain and disappointment, but closes us off from depth and intimacy.
Even when you are in a relationship with someone, not being able to trust leads to loneliness and disconnection. The truth is we want to trust. We want the person we Love to be reliable, honest, and committed. We want to know that we are investing our Love with the right person and that they will come through for us. We've also been in situations where we trusted wrongly and were hurt because of it and we don't want to make that mistake again.
So how do you know when someone is trustworthy? How do you determine whether or not they are worth the investment of your time and energy? Worth the investment of your Love? The signs are there, but do you know how to read them?
In this article, we'll tell you exactly what to look for, how to determine if someone is trustworthy, and how to create a foundation of trust in your relationships.
We've coached many people on this and the first thing we always say is:
The first person you need to learn to trust is yourself.
Whenever someone is struggling with trust, the root of it is always self-doubt. Usually because of past mistakes, we doubt that we know how to choose the right person. We feel like we're going to be tricked or duped and end up repeating the same patterns again, that we'll end up falling for the same manipulative kinds of people that we've fallen for in the past.
There are always ways to prevent that from happening but if you don't trust yourself enough to ask the right questions, to stand up for yourself, to defend your self-respect and dignity, no matter how attractive this person is or how good they make you feel in the moment, you will inevitably fall into the same patterns.
A trustworthy person will never compromise your self-respect, your dignity, or your boundaries.
But you'll have to draw the line to find out if they keep it or not. This is where trusting yourself is critical. Something we often work with our clients on is determining what their personal boundaries are and learning to communicate them in a clear and respectful manner.
A common example: A woman feels that if a man wants to sleep with her within the first few dates that the man is not trustworthy. Due to past experience of being lied to or manipulated by men who wanted to sleep with her, as soon as she feels that a man is showing this kind of interest, she has her guard up. She thinks it's about the man, but it's really about her. Her guard goes up because she doesn't trust herself.
A woman that trusts herself knows that she will not put herself in a compromising position, will not allow a man to take it any further than she wants it to go, will not be talked into or pressured into anything that compromises her self-respect, and that no matter what happens, her dignity will remain intact. Rather than spending her entire time with this man being suspicious and defensive, she is free to enjoy herself while putting him to the test to determine if sex is the only thing he wants.
Early on in a relationship, you have no way of knowing if the other person is trustworthy. All you can do is trust yourself enough to know that if they are not, you will discover that, and you will move on.
In the previous example, if you set some clear boundaries with him, you give him the opportunity to respect them or not. This reveals the character of the kind of man he is. If you say, "We're not sleeping together until we've been on at least 5 dates" and on date 3 he is pressuring you to reconsider, that reveals how little respect he has for your boundaries and whether he is the kind of person you can trust or not.
If he's patient in this regard, that reveals that he is interested in more than just sex. That shows that he is actually interested in getting to know you as a person, that he enjoys spending time with you. Does this mean he is entirely trustworthy? Not necessarily, but it's a start.
When you set a boundary, hold to it. When you don't, you teach people that your boundaries are not important. You deprive them of the opportunity to honor them. You also deprive yourself of the opportunity to see whether they will honor them.
Trust is built in relationships when we respect each other's boundaries, when we make agreements and keep them. It's up to you to set the relationship up on a foundation on which trust can be built. It's up to the other person to honor that. When this is continually done over time, the result is a profound level of trust and respect between partners.
If you've ever felt like there are no good men out there, it may be that you've not developed the skill to determine the "good" from the "bad". When we talk about a "good" man what we're really saying is that the man is honorable--that he is not trying to take advantage of you in any way, that he will respect you, and that he is trustworthy.
There are a lot of men with these qualities. Your job in dating is to determine if the man you're seeing is one of them. You may say that those who find him are lucky. We say they are intentional, but in dating, intention is often sacrificed in favor of the thrill and the "feels". When you look back on every relationship that started out great and ended badly, and you're honest about it, the signs were there weren't they? Many of you, if not most, will answer yes.
It's easy to blame the man and say, "They just weren't right. I knew it and went against my better judgment", but that is a very limited perspective. Every moment that you spend together you are creating the relationship that the two of you will share in the future.
You teach him what is OK with you and what is not OK through what you're willing to accept. What usually happens is that we compromise our principles early on in the relationship for the sake of not wanting to "rock the boat", but later this "compromise" becomes a basis for resentment. We feel that we are not getting what we want from the relationship and our trust in the relationship is shaken.
Here's a practical example: When you buy a car, all of the details of the arrangement are written out very specifically--what is to be paid, how much, over how many years, on what day of the month, and so on. The clarity of these agreements creates trust with the lender because the terms are spelled out clearly and you have given your word to them. The lender trusts that you will follow through with making your payments on time for the length of the agreement, and they will get their money. If you break the agreement too many times, the relationship ends and you no longer get to have the car.
Some may say this example is not romantic enough to be applied to a Love relationship but, in truth, the same principles apply. Not that you have to write out a 70 page contract with the person you're dating, but early on in the relationship you want to begin making agreements with each other and paying close attention to see if these agreements are kept.
See if he takes the agreements you make with each other seriously. Of course people make mistakes and, at times, you will both fall short, but when someone consistently disregards their word when they give it to you, you will not trust that person. And just like missing a car payment, someone that doesn't honor you with their word is not worth your time and energy.
No matter how much you Love them, over time a lack of trust will weigh on the relationship and will likely destroy it.
Many times couples have come to us with their relationship on the brink of breaking up. In every instance, without fail, they either do not have any clear agreements with each other or the agreements they have are being broken. They have deep feelings for each other but nothing solid to stand on. When this happens, the first thing we do is sit down with them and have them create agreements for the relationship that they can both commit to. When they both honor these agreements and build from there, it turns the relationship around every time.
If you are beginning a new relationship, you'll want to practice this from the start. Even if you've been with someone for a long time, it's not too late to start. Simply think about your needs in the relationship. What can they do/not do, always/never do etc. to make you feel safe and Loved?
Some examples of agreements our clients have made are:
We talk for 15 min before we go to work every morning.
We make time for a date night once a week no matter what.
We never raise our voices at each other no matter how angry we are.
We never walk out during a fight or go to bed angry.
When we get angry, we stop and take 15 min to cool off before we talk.
We cuddle and talk every night before we go to sleep.
We always text each other good morning/good night when we're apart.
There are infinite possible agreements that could be made. The question is, what can this person do to demonstrate their Love and commitment to you and vice/versa?
What matters is not that he just does whatever you want him to. It's that he is willing to make the effort to honor your requests because these are the things that are important to you. This proves that you are important to him.
That is a subtle distinction, but a critical one. We're not saying that you should be overly demanding or unreasonable in the requests you make, rather that you simply, honestly, and clearly let him know what's important to you and what will make you feel most Loved. And for the men reading this, it all goes both ways.
Trust in a relationship is built not on what you say, but on what you do.
The other person's willingness to do what is necessary to have you feel Loved will not only create Love in the relationship but also trust. You will trust them because this is how they demonstrate that they are trustworthy.
Whether you are going on a first date or you've been married for years, be clear about what you need in a relationship and be courageous enough to communicate it. Especially in new relationships, notice how the other person responds. Use the agreements you make to learn about this person's character. This will show you exactly how much they care about the relationship and how important you really are to them.
Be discerning about what you see and invest your time in someone who is willing to do what it takes to create trust with you. You're worth it.
The Living Relationship
Our story is your story. Two people, perfectly flawed in all kind of ways, traveling the path of Life together, making mistakes, growing through them, and learning from study, success and failure.
We say that we Teach the Art of Extraordinary Love!
While we all must travel this journey of Life, with its ups and downs, its joys and its pains, this path is so much better traveled with a partner.
Our commitment is to people having that partnership, to their lives being filled with Love and to their relationships being safe, healthy and Loving.
To learn how working with us can transform your life and relationships, or if you'd like to schedule and introductory session with us, click here. We'd love to get to know you and begin building powerful, connected and Loving relationships together.