Trust is the backbone of deep, intimate relationships. But what exactly is trust?
Here’s a simple story to illustrate:
“Sonia and Raj were introduced to each other for the first time by a mutual friend. Raj was a very quiet guy, while Sonia was an extrovert who loved to talk. At first both of them did not talk too openly. This was because they were not ready to trust the other. As their mutual friend orchestrated the conversation, Raj and Sonia found out that they both love to travel. An emotional connection was established due to the common love for travel. They started speaking about the subject and, through the conversation, they built familiarity and trust. By the end of the meeting, they exchanged phone numbers on the pretext of keeping each other updated about their adventures.”
This is a classic example of simple trust being built between two people.
Trust is like a burning candle on a windy night. When guarded, it can produce warmth & illuminate the path. If not treated tenderly, it could leave one in the dark.
Genuine trust is an act of faith. Trusting means we are confident that the one we trust can do no wrong, because we’re sure of their intentions and integrity. Trust is essential for every healthy and happy relationship.
But building trust in a relationship is not easy. It takes effort. It is like tending to a plant—one has to be patient.
Trust is created when both the partners are ready to risk their vulnerability. This is the risk of being hurt by the other, which is taken willingly. There are no shortcuts to building trust. It takes an investment of time and emotion to create a beautiful bond.
Trust creates an expectation that our significant other will act/react in a certain way to situations. When this expectation is not met, it leads to broken trust. Trust once broken is hard, if not impossible to mend. If both the partners are willing and desire to rebuild broken trust, then trust building exercises can help them achieve it.
Let’s look at a few trust building exercises for couples. If you’re short on time and need to skim through, skip to the infographic at the end of the article — it has all the information condensed into one image.
6 Trust Building Exercises For Couples
Understanding a partner’s feelings and emotions is essential for building trust. In the same way, making one’s feelings known to one’s partner plays a vital role to strengthen the bond. Being truthful about oneself helps both partners understand each other better. The prospect of being open and vulnerable always may be daunting. But it helps couples become more accepting of each other’s flaws and vulnerabilities, thus strengthening the bond.
Sit down with each other. Create an ambience of comfort and openness. Laugh a bit. Start recounting the whole day and events of the day. Communicate all the feelings experienced throughout the day. Encourage your partner to do the same. Most importantly, stay open and non judgemental.
Try to count the number of people you make constant eye contact with during a day. You could count them on one hand, right? A sign of deep trust and comfort with a person is the ability to make eye contact. If you observe young children, one can clearly see how they make a judgement of a person just by looking at the eyes.
The eyes help one see into the depths of a person. That said, when one can make constant eye contact with a partner, it shows deep trust between the couple.
Every time you communicate with your partner, make sure to maintain a soft eye contact. Do not stare, keep it simple. If it feels uncomfortable, do not force yourself. Remember, trust builds over time.
An individual’s behaviour within a group is different as compared to a one-to-one interaction. This also applies to couples. When in groups, couples behave differently than how they act in private. It becomes essential that the couples can predict how their partners will act when in public. The below example will illustrate,
“Pooja and Raj, who have been together for a few months, decide to have a dinner date with their friends Rahul and Reena who have been married for a year. Post dinner, Pooja decides to feed a spoon of ice-cream to Raj from her own bowl. Raj, on the other hand, feels rather uncomfortable being fed by his wife and declines. Pooja’s face turns red as she decides to have the ice cream herself.”
A moment of discomfort was created as Pooja and Raj were unsure of each other’s behaviour. This shows a lack of trust and understanding between the couple.
Participate in people events which both you and your partner enjoy. Events like food tasting, wine tasting, dance classes, parties etc. can be a good opportunity to develop trust. Make sure to be accommodating of your partner’s behaviour so that they are accommodating of yours. Learn to adjust and adapt.
Respect Space and Boundaries
The people in our life, whether spouse or parents or friends, are co-passengers on a journey. We consciously choose to travel with each other to make our journey more joyful. But we must remember, it’s “our” journey. As a couple, you may spend a lot of the journey together, but you also spend a part of the journey away from each other. Respecting this space is essential to build trust. Let your partner enjoy their time on their own. Maybe they like to watch a TV show alone, or watch a game of football with their office peers. Have boundaries and respect them. This helps to make the relationship sweeter and strengthen trust.
This is perhaps the most important of all trust building exercises for couples. Encourage your partner to take up activities that they love. These needn’t be group activities. Many a times, we stop enjoying our hobbies after marriage or engaging in a relationship. Encourage your partner to take up any such activities which they previously enjoyed. At the same time, reflect to see how you have changed. Make it a point to have some alone time to rejuvenate your mind and body.
The most important aspect of a successful relationship is a truthfulness. This is perhaps the most commonly spoken about trait but is also the hardest to live by. You and your partner may not always be ready to accept each other’s truths or ideas but the most successful relationships are based solely on truth and acceptance. Embracing truth will no doubt lead to temporary ups and downs but it makes and keeps a relationship strong.
Every night, sit down with your partner and practice confessions. These need not always be negative or pertaining to apologies. It could even be a positive confession like ‘how you helped a poor boy today’ or ‘how you felt embarrassed when something happened’. Remember, no lie is innocent.
Probably the most overlooked aspect of building trust between people is patience. Trust grows with time. It’s like a plant which needs to be tended to regularly, so that one day it blooms. It doesn’t happen overnight in any circumstance. There isn’t a prescribed duration to which one can set a timer. It is different for every person.
Patience is not only a virtue for a successful relationship, but also for a successful life. You can practice patience by actually planting a seed in your garden and then nurture and co-grow it with your partner. Plant a seed of each of your favourite flowers and tend to them. You will see that as the plant blooms, so does the relationship.
Make sure to share this article with your loved one, because it takes two to tango! Together, both of you treat these six exercises like games that you will play with each other to help you lay a strong foundation of trust in your relationship.