It’s no secret that trust is one of the most important parts of a relationship.

Trust allows you to feel secure in the company of your partner. Trusting them means you feel they’ve got your best interests at heart – that you can rely on them to do the right thing. It means you don’t have to worry that they’ll deliberately hurt you or let you down.

What’s less understood is how important it is to maintain and develop trust in your relationship – not just assume that if you had it once, you always will. Trust is a fluid thing – it comes and goes depending on the efforts you make to keep it.

These might be small things, like saying something kind to your partner, touching them, making a sweet gesture, doing them a simple favour and so on. It might be something like doing the washing up without making a huge fuss about it every time. Or taking your side in an argument.

Or it might be big things – sharing finances together, making a big gesture of commitment, being able to turn to them in a moment of real need.

Your sense of trust with your partner is likely to evolve over time – deepening as your relationship deepens, and fluctuating according to how you feel about one another.

A lonely place

Feeling you can’t trust your partner can be a very lonely and unhappy place. Without a sense of trust, the foundations of your relationship can feel very flimsy.

Again, a lack of trust can manifest in both big things and small. In terms of the latter, you may feel like you can’t have a simple conversation without it turning into a sniping match – that you’re always waiting for your partner to find a way to have a go at you. Or you may feel like you can’t ask them to do you a simple favour – that they’ll push back or get irritable.

Sometimes, a lack of trust can manifest in the absence of things – a lack of touch, a lack of warmth, a reluctance to make plans together. You may feel like your partner withholds their true feelings from you – that they have erected a wall of politeness or neutrality.

And, of course, there are those classic examples of trust being broken – affairs, and prolonged lying. Things like this can create damage in a relationship that reaches to its core – threatening the very foundations of the relationship and making it difficult to re-establish a sense of trust even over a long period of time.

Finding perspective

Now, it’s important to note that even the strongest relationships have occasional issues with trust. No-one goes through life without occasionally wondering if their partner isn’t withholding something from them – even if it’s just something small like their true thoughts on something. Experiencing doubt when it comes to trust doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in serious trouble.

Fluctuations in trust can be an entirely natural part of developing and maintaining a connection with someone over a long period of time. Getting to know someone isn’t always simple. People’s personalities can unfold in inconsistent and unpredictable ways. Sometimes finding someone a bit confusing or even frustrating can be a normal part of figuring out who they are.

But if you feel like there are bigger issues with trust in your relationship, or that you and your partner’s sense of trust is slowly but consistently ebbing away over time, you may need to take action to stop this. Sometimes it’s necessary to intervene in order to avoid negative patterns developing and becoming problematic.

Reversing direction

The level of intervention, of course, will depend on how serious you feel these issues may be. If you feel like what you’re experiencing has only been occurring recently, or that your problems might be addressed by taking them through honestly and openly then the solution is just that: having a conversation.

Telling your partner what you’re feeling and listening to what they have to say is sometimes all it takes to reverse direction when it comes to negative dynamics in a relationship. Taking the time to really express what’s on your mind – and appreciate what’s on theirs – may allow you to address some of that tension in your relationship and begin to identify just what it is that’s going wrong. You may like to read our article on communication tips, which will help you think about ways to have that conversation, including how you might like to express yourself and when and where to do it.

If you feel like your issues with trust run deeper, it might be a good idea to seek extra help. Sometimes, when things have become really difficult, it can be hard to get a conversation off the ground at all – even when that conversation is started with positive intentions. You may have fallen into communication habits that make it really hard to vulnerable and honest with each other – the atmosphere may be too charged, and there may be too much suspicion and assumption of blame. This is very often the case when there’s been a major breaking of trust such as an affair or when one partner has been lying to the other.

In this case, we’d recommend coming to speak to a relationship counsellor. A counsellor won’t tell you what to do and definitely won’t take sides – they will simply listen to what each of you has to say and help to facilitate a proper, productive conversation between the two of you. You might like to think of them as a referee for the conversation, allowing you to talk things over without falling into negative or aggressive forms of communication.

How we can help

If you’re finding it hard to talk about any tricky issues, Relationship Counselling, offers a safe and confidential space where you can be open and honest.

To find out more and to arrange an appointment contact us today

You can also read our page on How to Build Trust