7 Trust-Building Exercises Couples Counselors Swear By

by Kristine Fellizar
BDG Media, Inc.

You can't have a relationship that lasts without trust. It's one of the most important things you need to have in your relationship aside from communication. Building and rebuilding trust is a process that can take a bit of time. If you're looking to build more trust in your relationship, there are some trust-building exercises for couples that counselors say you should be doing.

"Trust lays the foundation for any relationship," Dr. Connie Omari, clinician and owner of Tech Talk Therapy, tells Bustle. "It's the only avenue to connect people to one another. Because couples consist of different people, with different personalities, different experiences, and different perspectives of the world, the trust that lies between the two people is essential for not only bringing them together, but helping them to stay together."

If your relationship lacks trust, Dr. Omari says, it lacks the potential to form emotional intimacy. When you don't feel truly "safe" in your relationship, you'll have a hard time opening up and allowing your partner in. Without emotional intimacy, there's no real connection. It's hard to maintain a long-term relationship when the only thing keeping you together is the surface-level stuff.

Since trust is essential for a relationship to survive, here are some trust-building exercises couples counselors swear by.


Let Your Partner Go Through Your Phone

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Social media and technology can be major sources of trust issues for many couples today. So having openness around phones and social media is a great way for couples to build trust. "In my experience working with couples and infidelity issues, I've seen it's difficult for someone to rely on words alone," licensed psychologist, Dr. Laura Louis, tells Bustle. "Being able to look at something tangible, like a phone, helps rebuild trust in a relationship." Decide what you are both most comfortable with involving phone and social media practices, then go from there.


Give Your Partner A Small Random Task To Complete

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You need to be 100% sure that you can trust your partner with both the big and the small things. If your partner violated your trust and is looking to earn it back, a great way to do this is to start small. "You're not going to build Rome in a day if you're rebuilding trust, say after an affair," licensed professional counselor, Kim Anderson, tells Bustle. "It takes time. Starting off with some slow and steady trust building practices will give the little stones a chance to become mountains."

For example, you can try asking your partner to get you something super specific from the grocery store like a brand and flavor of ice cream. If they don't have it in stock, tell your partner to text you and let you know. According to Anderson, these little asks allow you to share your expectations and gives your partner a chance to gain back your trust through little baby steps. To be clear, it's not about manipulating or testing your partner. It's about laying out expectations and trusting that your partner will follow through.


Take Turns Planning Date Nights

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Part of having trust is giving up control. If you're used to planning your dates nights from where to eat to what you do after, give your partner a chance to plan the next one. Be totally hands-off and allow them to surprise you. According to Anderson, it's important to give your partner enough space to show how trustworthy they can be. "The best way to build trust is to allow someone to be trustworthy to you," she says.


Try New Couples Activities Together

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Trying new things that take you out of your comfort zones can be a great way to build trust. For instance, certified relationship coach, Jacqui Rubinoff, tells Bustle, "A fun way to build trust with your significant other is by doing Acro Yoga together. It involves trust because you are relying on your partner to hold you up. It also involves communication as you discuss what feels right, what doesn't, when you want to come down, etc." It also helps to build intimacy and connection. Even if you aren't the most coordinated couple in the class, you can still have fun together.


Create A Vision Board Together

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"Make a vision board together as a couple on the future you want for your relationship," Christine Scott-Hudson, marriage and family therapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. All you have to do is go through some magazines and cut out words, phrases, and images of what you want the future of your relationship to look like. "A story will emerge about what you would like more of in your relationship, and what you need less of in your relationship," Scott-Hudson says. "Allow this story to inform you." This simple activity gives you a chance to talk about where things are headed and what goals you have in mind. The best part is, you can even make a date night out of it.


Talk About Your Fears

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Intimacy in a relationship can only happen when you and your partner are willing to be vulnerable and talk openly with one another. According to Jan Harrell, PhD, clinical psychologist and author, one way to show your vulnerability and build trust is to discuss your fears and insecurities. It's important to sit down and talk about what you may be afraid of without shame so you can leave that in the past and move forward. It also gives your partner a chance to show they can comfort you.


Create Your Own Language Together

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Creating your own language together includes coming up with specific words or phrases that mean something important for the two of you. According to Dr. Harrell you can start by thinking of words that make you feel self-protective or triggered. You can then know to avoid using those words. You can even come up with a word to use when you want your partner to know that you're being really serious about something, and another word for when you feel like your boundaries are being pushed. Creating your own language and actually applying it is a great way to build trust and strengthen your connection.

Trust is important to have in your relationship. There are so many things you can do to build trust in your relationship. These are just a few ideas to get you started.