A healthy relationship requires trust, but it’s not always easy to trust your partner. Even if we know that our nosey thoughts and suspicious behaviour are not good for the relationship, they can be hard to break. There is a risk that we stifle our partners with our need for affirmation, or that we chase them away with more or less unfounded accusations. Want to get better at trust? Here are seven tips.
Accept that you can’t be in complete control
Whether you’ve just started dating again or you’re in a long-term relationship, you have to accept that you can never be in full control of another person. Resolve not to let your emotions run wild as soon as you don’t get a reply to a text message or your partner is running a little late. Take a few deep breaths and choose not to get worked up, but wait and see. Most things have a natural explanation.
It may be tempting to ask the whole gang of friends what they think your partner’s latest text message really means, but the risk is that you’ll end up even more confused. To sort through your thoughts and feelings, draw two circles on a piece of paper. In one, write the facts, such as “she hasn’t heard from you in two days”. In the other, write what conclusions you draw from this, such as “she’s met someone else” or “she’s not interested anymore”. The exercise helps you to distinguish what is actually happening from what your mind is telling you could happen. Focus on the fact circle!
Searching through your partner’s pockets or hot-scrolling through your new date’s social media may feel right for the moment, but in the long run you’re making things worse. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite; it feels good at the time but eventually you’ve torn open a big wound. Make up your mind not to give in to the impulse to snoop and seek outside comfort and validation. Daring to trust your partner is about a security from within. You want to feel trust, so you try it this time.
Think positive and practice step by step
Perhaps past experience has taught you that you’re better off not trusting other people. The problem is that negative thinking patterns can easily spiral out of control. Instead, try to think positive thoughts. If you want to believe that your date or partner is a good person, you also need to dare to start acting accordingly. Instead of thinking catastrophic thoughts, focus on the best-case scenario and what you want to happen. Load your brain with new, positive experiences by going against your fears and consciously letting go of control. Start small and build your confidence step by step. Over time, you’ll have the courage to trust your partner more and more – because you’ll have learned that it works.
Accept your feelings
Not having the courage to trust your partner or date can bring up feelings of shame and frustration. Instead of getting angry with yourself, practice accepting how you feel. “Yes, I have trouble trusting my date/partner. It’s because of my past experiences, and I’m working on it. That’s all I can do right now.” Notice these thoughts and feelings without giving them too much space.
Consciously practice being vulnerable together
Showing vulnerability is hard, but it’s also a prerequisite for being loved and accepted as you are. If you are too careful to keep up your façade, other people will never really get close. Daring to show your weaknesses and asking for help to work on them is a big and important step on the road to a strong, secure relationship. Lower your guard! Tell your partner how you feel and work on it together.
Help to create an open, trusting atmosphere
If you want your relationship to be characterised by trust and confidence, it’s a good idea to set a good example yourself. Invite your partner or date along when you go out so they can meet your friends. When you are out on your own, tell them where you are going and let them know if you find you are running late. This way you send small signals to your partner that there is nothing to hide, and that you can trust each other. Ask your partner to do the same. Of course, you should be able to spend time apart without detailing what you’re doing, but by being open with each other (especially in the beginning) you can build a more trusting atmosphere.
It IS possible to trust your partner…
…but it may not come naturally, especially if you’ve had bad experiences. This is where you need to dare to step out again. Tread a new path in your heart and mind. Start practising with the tips above and you’ll be well on your way. Don’t let your past define your future: every person you meet deserves a chance.