Malcolm and Jess fell in love fast, married young, and for years projected perfection. To the outsider, they were Jess, a brilliant and confident lawyer at a respected firm, and Malcolm, a handsome and charismatic owner of a local bar. At home, there were problems. Malcolm lied to Jess about how he financed buying the bar and what exactly he purchased. Jess, heartbroken after years of IVF proved futile, had an affair. She left him, and they didn’t speak for months.
Trust between Jess and Malcolm was shattered.
Trust is the belief that another person can be relied on, which is imperative in romantic relationships. Without trust, people are unwilling to show their true selves and be vulnerable, leading to relationships withering because of inauthenticity.
Several key behaviors break trust, including:
Serving One’s Own Interest
If you want to build trust in your relationships, try these steps:
Communicate Openly: Listen and respond with empathy while positively sharing thoughts, feelings, and rationale and seeking honest feedback.
Be Reliable: Consistently act with integrity and avoid making empty promises or breaking commitments.
Provide Respect: Treat others fairly and value uniqueness.
Show Confidence in Others: Encourage others to be involved in your life by asking for help when needed and provide others with fitting levels of support and independence.
Let's apply those skills to Jess and Malcolm:
Malcolm could have shared that his boss was strong-arming him into buying more than they could afford, that he didn’t understand the documents, and asked his (lawyer) wife for help before signing anything. This would have left Jess feeling respected and valued.
Jess could have honestly told her husband she was confused and potentially attracted to a divorced man with young kids but didn’t want to act on those feelings. They could have talked it out and likely realized that much of the attraction was about the kids, not the man, and worked on ways to continue moving forward as a team despite not having children. This would have left them stronger as a unit.
These trust builders cross-apply to any relationship – friends, family members, colleagues, etc. Use them everywhere, and watch your relationships flourish.