When you start to get more serious with someone, building trust in your relationship is key. You should be able to talk to your partner about anything and, if they're not your best friend, they should feel like one of your best friends. "Deep friendship is the foundation to a healthy relationship," relationship counselor Crystal Bradshaw tells Bustle. "Trust and safety follow friendship. As these elements are planted and strengthened, the relationship grows and matures." But to make it grow, there's some work involved. Partly it's built through time and through your actions, but it's also built through communication.
When it comes to building trust through communication, it's not something you can just force — make sure to think about your partner as an individual and what they might want to talk about or not want to talk about.
"What questions will build trust with some people might not with others," board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Susan Edelman tells Bustle. "Trust depends on how you respond to their answer, not just asking them a question. For example, if someone gets into a lot of painful details about their family, the question-asker may get overwhelmed and look like they want to escape. That might not build trust. These questions can be tricky if you don't take criticism well. If you get defensive, it's less likely to build trust, especially if you asked them the question in the first place."
So keeping that in mind, here are the questions that can help you build trust, according to experts.
"What's Your Most Embarrassing Memory From School?"
This is a good question because it can be silly and fun as well as being a trust exercise — but you may want to go first. "I always recommend that you give to get," dating, relationship and lifestyle expert Steven Ward tells Bustle. "Be vulnerable to see vulnerable. Be open to see open. If you want to get closer to someone tell them something that very few, if any, other people know." If you open up, that's a sign you trust them.
"What Makes You Feel The Most Fulfilled?"
Sometimes, you just need to cut to the chase. "What gives you meaning?" Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With A Narcissist, tells Bustle. "It's heavy, but if a person can't answer that, then it is not likely to be that deep a ride." Knowing what drives them also helps you be a better partner and source of support.
"What's Your Fantasy?"
On the kinky side of things, psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle that asking "What is your fantasy?" can be a great way to build trust. You're sharing intimate details and that brings you closer together — and it may just help you give your sex life a boost, as a bonus.
"What Do You Find Difficult To Share With Me?"
Dr. Edelman suggests giving your partner the floor by asking them what they find difficult to share. If you have a shy partner, sometimes they need to be given a platform to bring up issues they find uncomfortable — just make sure you're not too pushy. If they don't want to talk, that's OK — remind them that you'll be there when they do.
"What Would You Do?"
A good way to show that you trust and value someone — and get that trust in return — is to ask for their opinion. "You could ask them, 'How would you handle this problem?' and get their advice on a current situation when you don't know what to do," says Dr. Edelman. It shows that you respect their opinion, but also that you want to be close with them.
"What Makes You Feel Loved?"
Another deep but important question, sometimes you just need to get to the heart of what makes somebody tick. "While we all want to feel loved, we often have different criteria," Chad Elliot, communication coach, tells Bustle. "You may need to hear your partner say they love you; they may need you to really listen to them share their thoughts. Other possibilities: getting small gifts or handwritten notes, enjoying time together, or cuddling. You can also change the word love in this question to words like respected, appreciated, supported, or important." They're all valid questions.
"How Can I Help You?"
If you really want to be a better partner and get to know someone, ask them how you can help them. "The one conversation a couple can have in order to build intimacy is to ask: How can I help you when you're suffering?" clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte, who offers transformational coaching for individuals and couples at Healing Arts New York, tells Bustle. "How would you like me to react … when you are in pain?" Don't wait until you're in the heat of the moment — this is a great question to ask when things are relaxed.
"How Are You?"
Finally, it's about the little things. Trust is built through everyday activities, so asking your partner how they're doing — and really listening — every single day can be an incredibly important building block.
Building trust in a relationship doesn't happen overnight, but if you ask the right questions and listen to your partner then you're well on your way. It's important to be compassionate and present when you're talking about difficult subjects — you want to build trust, not catch your partner off guard. And tuning into what they're saying can make all the difference.