The 6 Elements Of Trust
The Elements Of Trust In Your Relationship
Trust is the foundation of a relationship. You cannot have a healthy relationship without trust. What does it mean to have a trusting relationship? It is more than just remembering your birthday, or respecting the rules of the relationship such as being faithful. You can decide you will trust someone early in a relationship, but you cannot know if you can trust someone until time has passed, there has been interaction in the relationship, and a trust picture has developed.
I believe there are six elements of trust that combine to create the trust picture that forms in a relationship. We can often become confused when we think about trust because we rely on feelings and intentions, trust is very much defined by what we do.
The Six Elements Of Trust
Reliability is very straightforward, does he do what he says he will do? If someone makes promises that they don’t keep, then they are not demonstrating that they can be trusted through their behaviour. Words are easily said – but can this person demonstrate trustworthiness through their actions?
Does this person’s actions match up with their beliefs and values? Do you feel comfortable in the relationship that you can predict what will happen next and know what you partner is likely to do in a certain situation? Congruence is different to reliability. Reliability means doing what you say you will do. Congruence is saying and doing what you believe, in line with your values, it means being honest and saying what is true. When you are in a relationship with someone who is congruent is means it is safe in the relationship to talk about things that might be difficult or unpleasant without unexpected consequences.
Acceptance is about knowing that no matter what you will be accepted and respected for who you are. When you partner has accepted you for who you are you know that your partner will not criticise you or make you feel inferior.
Does this person tell you everything, or do they lie by omission? Does this person openly tell you what they think and feel so that you can work together in the relationship trusting that each person is invested in the relationship in a fair transparent and honest way?
Is this person able to take responsibility for their actions? Are they able to honestly own their mistakes without blaming others?
Is about being truthful, not just with the person we are in a relationship with but with everyone. Honesty is about inclusiveness, leaving out parts of a story or forgetting to mention something important is called lying by omission, and it is the same as being deliberately dishonest or deceitful.
Open Honest Communication
The most important thing you can do to build trust is have clear boundaries and open communication. If you have the conversation about the rules of your relationship then whether a potential partner is trustworthy or not becomes very clear. If your partner disappoints you time and again and is untrustworthy by breaking the rules of the relationship, then they are undermining the relationship and making it impossible for a trust picture to form. If you have trusted your partner and shared your innermost thoughts and feelings and this information is used against you in an argument to shock and humiliate you, that is not open honest and fair communication. It is toxic manipulation.
Without Trust There Is No Relationship
Without trust, there cannot be a relationship. If you don’t feel physically or emotionally safe, intimacy cannot develop. There is no relationship, only intense toxic connection. If you allow your boundaries about what you expect from the relationship to be undermined you allow yourself to be manipulated and hurt. By not naming and acting on boundaries in self-protective ways, you allow toxic behaviour to be perpetuated.
When a person is able to continue to treat you in ways that violate the trust of a relationship it holds them back from learning and growing because they are not held accountable for their behaviour. What happens is we compromise our boundaries and allow the person to get away with their toxic behaviour, sometimes repeatedly.
Our fear can make us stay in the relationship even though we know it is toxic. Rather than leave the relationship, we can choose to try and create consequences for our partner or control the relationship to create the stability that is missing because of lack of trust. The problem with this approach is that toxic patterns are perpetuated rather than resolved. In toxic relationships sometimes there is no foundation for lack of trust. Suspicion is used as a tool to control the other person. This is why understanding how trust expresses itself in your relationship is so important.
If you have tried to be reasonable with your partner and time out doesn’t work for you because your partner cannot respect your boundaries, it may be that you need extra help. There are agencies who work exclusively helping women in toxic, abusive relationships. If you are in need of support in Australia, you can contact Lifeline 131114 or Wire 1300 134 130 for a referral to services in your area.
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Elizabeth has worked as a Psychologist and Relationships Counsellor in England and Australia for a period of eleven years. She now works from her private practice located in South Eastern Melbourne, Victoria working exclusively with women focusing on relationships, personal development, health and wellness with a holistic focus.