How to Build Trust in a Relationship

Tips for building trust in a relationship

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

What Is Trust?

To have trust in a relationship means that you feel a sense of security and loyalty with your partner, says Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University.

“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,” says Romanoff.

This article explores the importance of trust in relationships and suggests some ways to build trust with your partner.

Importance of Trust in Relationships

Trust is a vital component in happy and successful relationships. Below, Romanoff explains why trust is important in relationships.

Promotes Positivity

Trust is important in relationships because it allows you to be more open and giving. If you trust your partner, you are more likely to be forgiving of their shortcomings or behaviors that irritate you because overall you believe in them and know they have your back.

Reduces Conflict

Trust also allows you to navigate conflict. When you trust your partner, you are more willing to overlook problems or commit to finding solutions to issues because you feel allied in areas that mean the most to you. Even if your partner does something disappointing, you are more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt and see the good in them if you trust them.

Increases Closeness

Establishing trust creates a strong bond and foundation to build on. Knowing you can trust your partner promotes increased closeness and safety. When you trust one another, you feel safe knowing that your partner has your back and can be relied upon for comfort, care, and support.

Trusting your partner also allows your nervous system to relax, rest, and reset. By establishing a strong foundation of trust, your relationship can be a source of healing for both parties involved, particularly if this has not always been the case in past relationships with family or past partners.

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Impact of Lack of Trust

Trust takes time to build, and if your partner consistently fails to follow through on promises or commitments, you will begin to have low expectations of them, says Romanoff.

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

When your partner’s actions are not aligned with their words, you will begin to learn that they are not trustworthy. Repeated violations or consistent hurtful behaviors erode trust.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Lack of trust can impact your relationship as it may create many problems. A lack of trust can also affect your mental health. Romanoff outlines some of the effects below:

  • Lack of intimacy: When there is little trust in a relationship, intimacy tends to decrease. When your partner is being deceitful, you will likely want to distance yourself from them, both emotionally and physically. 
  • Negativity: When you feel wronged by your partner, you may fixate on this feeling, which will not only cause you to withdraw from them, but will also cause you to be filled with anger towards them. This can stifle connection and closeness.
  • Insecurity: Lack of trust usually leads to insecurity in the relationship. In turn, you will constantly doubt what your partner tells you and may react by becoming more controlling. Paradoxically, the behaviors designed to gain control usually push partners further away. For instance, incessantly calling or texting your partner to keep tabs on them can drive them away.
  • Depression and anxiety: If there is little trust in your relationship, you might experience higher levels of depression or anxiety because you will constantly question whether your partner is lying or being deceitful.
  • Trouble concentrating: Lack of trust can lead to an inability to concentrate, especially if you are constantly worrying or wondering what the other person is actually thinking, feeling, or doing.
  • Distress: Not being able to trust your partner contributes to mental, emotional, and physical distress, including betrayal, trauma, and emotional dysregulation.
  • Fear: Low trust can cause feelings of fear and anxiety. You might be afraid of what your partner will do next, or you might worry that they won't be there when you need them.
  • Loneliness: When you can't trust the closest person in your life, you are bound to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Remanoff shares some strategies that can help you and your partner build trust in your relationships.

Building Trust in a Relationship

There are a number of things that you can do to help promote trust in your relationship. Romanoff shares some strategies that can be helpful.

Improve on Mistakes

An important step to build trust is to be honest and forthcoming when you violate expectations or hurt one another. 

Everyone makes mistakes. What is important is that you can learn and grow closer to each other after you repair whatever was damaged as a result of the mistake. The best way to do this is to own them completely and show how you will do better in the future.

Communicate

Another step to build trust is to engage in open communication. Secrecy tends to erode trust, so when your partner is able to be transparent and allows space to explore topics that might trigger your mistrust, you can begin to feel more at ease and begin to let your guard down. 

The more you are able to get on the same page, the closer you will feel toward your partner. Open communication makes it easier for you to discuss concerns about the relationship. When you can have open communication, you will feel closer to your partner.

How to Rebuild Trust

If trust has been damaged in a relationship, there are things that you can do to help rebuild your trust, intimacy, and connection. Steps you can take:

  • Be open and willing to work on the relationship
  • Create new positive experiences together
  • Talk to one another
  • Find ways to connect
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say
  • Keep and follow through on commitments you make
  • Be consistent
  • Listen empathetically, be present with your partner, and ask questions to better understand them and your relationship with them
  • Continually deepen your own self-awareness so that you can share your most honest thoughts, emotions, needs, and requests
  • Acknowledge and take responsibility for mistakes made, apologize for the harm done, and be clear and specific about how things will be approached differently in the future

Patience is also important. It may take time to rebuild trust, but continuing to work toward improving your relationship can help you eventually mend those damaged connections.

A Word From Verywell

Trust is an important pillar in relationships, and the lack of it can lead to negativity, conflict, insecurity, depression, and anxiety. If your relationship is lacking trust, it’s important to work with your partner to build it, so that you can let your guard down and be vulnerable with each other.

If you are having difficulties resolving your trust issues with your partner, you can seek help from a therapist or a couples counselor.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kleinert T, Schiller B, Fischbacher U, et al. The Trust Game for Couples (TGC): A new standardized paradigm to assess trust in romantic relationshipsPLoS One. 2020;15(3):e0230776. Published 2020 Mar 26. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230776

  2. Arikewuyo AO, Eluwole KK, Özad B. Influence of Lack of Trust on Romantic Relationship Problems: The Mediating Role of Partner Cell Phone SnoopingPsychol Rep. 2021;124(1):348-365. doi:10.1177/0033294119899902

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.