How to Build Honesty and Trust in a Relationship

November 18, 2021

Honesty and trust are at the foundation of any healthy relationship because they allow you to feel safe and secure with your partner. Feelings of safety in a relationship also lead to fostering true intimacy and closeness. These things have to be earned – which requires some work on your part. We spoke to the experts on how to cultivate honesty and trust, see below.

Honesty is More than Telling the Truth. 

It is important to note that honesty in a relationship is more than just telling lies or hiding actions. Honesty means that your intentions, actions, and words are free of deceit or withheld information. If you are debating with yourself whether or not you are concealing information you should admit; ask yourself: if my partner knew about it, would they be upset? Would they think I crossed a line?

Build a Solid Foundation. 

“You can foster trust in a relationship by communicating your needs,” says sexologist Marla Renee Stewart. She adds that it’s a smart idea to define your boundaries and expectations with each other early in the relationship. That way, you’re both less likely to unknowingly cross boundaries which can cause ruptures and erode trust. 

Trust also grows in a relationship when you routinely make good on your promises, which can include small things like arriving to your date on time, or bigger things like ensuring your partner feels confident in you. This means being realistic about your ability or capacity to show up for your partner. When you are honest about what you can deliver and you set clear expectations, there is a much smaller chance of your partner feeling as though you disappointed them. Being honest about what you can deliver and consistently following through allows your partner to trust that you do what you say, which can lead to trust in other parts of your relationship as well. 

Embrace the Uncomfortable

Being honest with your partner means that you will have to have some pretty tough conversations, but that is a good thing! Open communication makes us feel safe and encourages trust in a relationship. To ensure your partner feels safe and comfortable being honest and vulnerable with you, start by being open with them first. Start with things that seem difficult to bring up, like insecurities about other people in their life, or behaviors that may trigger you. 

Establish an Atmosphere that Encourages Vulnerability 

Another way to create trust in a relationship is by creating an atmosphere that feels safe. Avoid being judgmental of your partner. This doesn’t mean you can’t note difficulties or mistakes, but avoid being condemning, overly critical, or condescending because it will prevent them from being honest with you. 

Disagreements should be conversations NOT arguments. Encourage speaking in “I” statements such as, “I feel” or “this made me feel like _____”. The opposite, “you” statements often point fingers and blame, and can create a barrier in communication. Give your partner the space to be open with you and their thoughts. Listen without distraction. And even if you do not agree, pay attention to how you are talking to your partner.

Trust Broken? Own up.

If you do something to break the trust in your relationship, it is best to tell your partner before they find out on their own. The longer you go without telling them, the longer they are likely to doubt your trustworthiness in the future. 

The ability to say that you are sorry and be vulnerable with your partner shows that you value your partner and your relationship, and that you are willing to do your part in the relationship. When you come to your partner with your mistake, it will be easier for them to believe that you are truly remorseful.

Knowing that your partner can and will be honest with you is the first step to creating a healthy relationship with a solid foundation. Relationships require continuous upkeep! Make sure you keep checking in, keep being fully honest with your partner, and with yourself, and keep showing up for your partner every day. These things can be key to maintaining a healthy and happy relationship.

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