9 Ways To Build Trust In Your First Relationship, According To Experts
When it comes to the most important things in a relationship, you've probably heard trust and communication should come in at the top of that list. While those are essential to a healthy relationship, neither of those are things that happen right away — you have to build them, develop them, and then continue to work at them. But when you want to build trust in your relationship and you've never been in a relationship before, things can be a little more complicated. You're starting from scratch, which can be a good thing and a difficult thing.
Learning to trust your partner can also come easier to some people than others. Some people are more naturally open and trusting, while others may be more skeptical and have been hurt by other people in their lives, so they have more layers of self-protection. It's different for every person. But when you're in a new relationship, you and your partner have to work on creating trust between the two of you, whether it comes naturally to you or not. Intimacy is about being vulnerable with another person — and that requires trust.
Luckily, if you're both open to the idea and willing to put the time in, you can absolutely build trust in your first relationship. Here's where to start, according to relationship experts.
1. Make Sure You're The Time You're Spending Together Is Quality Time
Invest time in talking to each other — and really connecting. “Be intentional to put your phone down, turn off the TV, turn down the music, and listen to how your partner is feeling,” Meygan and Casey Caston, founders of Marriage365, tell Bustle. “The word, ‘feeling’ being the key.” Just watching Netflix together won't cut it.
2. Be Your True Self, Not Your Best Self
In a relationship, you can't be "on" all the time, you need to just be open about how you're feeling. “Real intimacy comes from letting your guard down and allowing your partner to witness you in a less than stellar light," Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, licensed psychologist, dating coach, and the founder of relationship consultancy Rapport Relationships, tells Bustle. Pretending to be some perfect version of yourself isn't sustainable.
3. Keep Some Boundaries
Some people think that trusting your partner means sharing everything, but don't jump in and share everything all at once. Trust is built up over time and you don't want to share anything before your ready. For example, some people think it's a sign that they're in a good place if they share their PIN or password, but that can be dangerous.
"Sharing passwords and logins can be good as it establishes trust and convenience, but it can also be extremely risky," Alayna Pehrson, spousal identity theft expert and manager of Best Company's identity theft blog, tells Bustle. "In my opinion, the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to sharing passwords. For instance, a partner could seem trustworthy at first (when you give them your passwords), but they could easily use those passwords to commit identity theft, make unwarranted purchases/build up a large amount of debt, catch a virus on devices, etc."
4. Take It Slow
Your first love can feel overwhelming, but pacing yourself can help. "Take it slow," Laura Bilotta, couples counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "The quicker you rush into things the more vulnerable you become, take your time when entering a relationship and you’ll find your trust builds up naturally."
5. Be Trustworthy
You can't expect someone to be trustworthy if you're not doing the same. "Make sure you can be counted on," Bilotta says. "Trust is a two-way street. Make sure when entering a new relationship that your new partner can count on you to be there when they need you and know that they can tell you anything, it will open up a positive dialogue that will allow trust to flow naturally." Show that you're reliable and steadfast and you'll get that in return.
6. Share Something Personal & See How They React
"Trust within a relationship is built via mutually sustained vulnerability," Cayla Buettner, Philadelphia-based matchmaker at Three Day Rule, tells Bustle. "To build trust in your first real relationship, be courageous to share something close to your heart. Maybe it’s a long-term dream, a memory, or even an object that holds importance to you. To know whether you can trust someone and whether they are emotionally available, take notes on how they respond. Do they listen and encourage you to share? Are they validating or dismissive?" The more you share, the more you'll open up that communication — and make sure that this is the right person to be sharing yourself with.
7. Respect Their Boundaries
If you breach their trust, you can do a lot of a damage to the relationship — especially at the beginning — so it's important to respect your partner's boundaries too. "Never go snooping or accusing them of lying," Buettner says. "Nothing could kill a new relationship and your trust faster than breaching their privacy. Treat them how you’d like to be treated, especially in your early stages."
8. Focus On Actions
In the middle of your first real relationship, it's really easy to get carried away by the feeling of falling for someone. You may spend a lot of time talking about how you love and trust each other, but you need to behave in a way that proves that to be true. And make sure your partner is, too. "Trust is often built through actions more than through words," matchmaker and dating coach Karenna Alexander tells Bustle. "Words are great. When someone says 'I love you', that is an awesome feeling. But if that persons says 'I love you', and ignores you for one month (no dates or calls or maybe one date that month), you can see they are not trustworthy. So focus on both, but place more importance on actions because words can be cheap."
9. Say What You Mean & Mean What You say
According to relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love, Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle, building trust is all about "SWIM backwards". What does that mean? Well, it's simpler than it sounds. "Say What I Mean and Mean What I Say," Armstrong tells Bustle. "This sounds obvious but we're not very good at it. This is really about being mindful about making and keeping commitments, being on time, calling or texting when you say you will. In new relationships, this matters, especially at the beginning. If someone can't trust you to do the little things, they won't trust you to do the bigger ones."
Building trust isn't something that happens overnight so, if it's your first relationship, take it slow. As much as you may be feeling the rush of falling for someone, putting in the work and time to build trust will make sure you can last for the long haul.