15 top tips for building trust in a relationship

‘Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and years to repair’

The definition of trust is ‘the firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something’

In the past I have had found it very easy to trust and have started off all my relationships trusting and giving the benefit of the doubt. In my late 20s my trust was broken beyond repair, and I now pay extra attention to not let that turn me into someone who struggles to trust others. Something one of my friends once said to me really sticks in my mind, she told me she thought that my ability to trust was a huge strength and to be sure not to let any negative experiences alter that. So that is what I have tried to do, but it is sometimes very challenging.

Trust in a relationship is so important, once it has gone, it can send you slightly crazy. Lack of trust can make you paranoid, uncomfortable and miserable. It can consume you and take over all your thoughts.

As part of the Science of Happiness course I am studying I came across this very interesting model by Dan Yoshimoto. He has discovered that the basis for building trust is really the idea of attunement. He has broken this down with the acronym ATTUNE, which stands for:

Awareness of your partner’s emotion;

Turning toward the emotion;

Tolerance of two different viewpoints;

trying to Understand your partner;

Non-defensive responses to your partner;

and responding with Empathy.

I think this is a great model to help support keeping trust in a relationship. There are a number of things I find important to help built trust in a relationship which I have detailed below:

1) Communication

Being able to talk to each other is the number one most important point in building trust. Talking about how you are feeling, any worries you have, what you like, how the other person made you feel. Communicating your needs and asking your partner to do the same. You can try to anticipate the others needs, but openly communicating is most effective. Being able to discuss everything with each other, including the more difficult and uncomfortable things will bring you closer together. Communicating in person rather than relying on messages will help you build a greater sense of security as you become more open with each another. Communicating calmly without heightened emotions is also important, it will help you create confidence in the relationship, which can turn into trust.

Learn all about each other, ask questions, listen, be interested, share personal information, values, experiences and history. Confide in each other. Be open, reveal information about yourself and reassure each other how you feel, this will further strengthen the foundation of trust.

2) Keep things confidential

Keep what your partner tells you in confidence to yourself. If you share this information with others it will destroy the trust you have built.

3) Be yourself

Be confident about who you are and keep true to yourself. Don’t try to change your personality to make someone else happy. If you try to become someone else for your partner, it may seem inauthentic and that will not help build trust. It’s also important to be yourself in front of others. If your partner see’s you putting on an act with your friends or family, it might make them wonder how honest you are. Present your true self no matter who you’re with to show that you’re a trustworthy person.

4) Honesty

I heard a great quote recently about the difference between truth and honest. Truth: I’m having an affair. Honesty: I’m having an affair with your husband. It’s important to be honest and not to hide things. Even small white lies will start to put an element of doubt in someones mind. People often hide some elements of the truth with the intention of protecting the other person, but it often has the opposite effect. It’s also wise to avoid unnecessary secrecy as this can cause suspicion and lack of trust.

5) Consideration

Consider your partner’s interests. The more you do for them and the more considerate you are, the they will know that they can count on you and that you have their best interests at heart. If your partner feels like they can count on you, it will make it much easier for them to trust you.

6) Reliability

Do what you say you’re going to do. Keep your promises, be dependable and accountable. Show up when you are meant to, call when you have said you will, keep your word, be someone your partner can count on. Small actions matter toward helping you to build a strong foundation of trust.

7) Vulnerability

Be confident to show the real you, flaws and all. Don’t feel like you have to be perfect, never showing any weaknesses. By revealing all of yourself, including your insecurities, trust will grow.

8) Apologise

Learn to apologise when you make a mistake or disappoint your partner. Follow the advice in this blog post in order to give a truly authentic apology. If you can learn to apologise for your mistakes, it will build the trust in your relationship as receiving a sincere apology builds trust in an important way.

9) Forgiveness

Practice forgiveness when you are upset with your partner, and let go of a hurt after the two of you have talked it through. Follow this advice on how to forgive.

10) Space

Make sure you have time for yourself and give your partner space. This allows both parties to reflect and hopefully miss each other. Having a break from each other it will make you appreciate the time you spend together more.  If you are excited to see each other after some time apart, this helps to form a deeper connection and builds trust.

11) Don’t judge

Every time your partner tells you something personal try to make them feel accepted, and express empathy, this will encourage further sharing in the future. If you criticize them or judge them, it may put them off confiding in you going forward. Supporting them can strengthen your intimacy.

12) Be supportive

Let you partner know you are there for them, both by telling them and also ensuring your actions mirror this. Take their side, offer encouragement, have their back. You don’t always have to agree, but it’s can be more important to be supportive than it is to be right, or even if you disagree, there is a way to do it in a supportive way.

13) Spend quality time together

Spending quality time together reawakens a sense of excitement about the other person, which can build a deeper sense of connection and trust. Try not to get stuck in a lifeless routine of watching TV, playing on your phone and not communicating properly with each other. Spend some good old quality time together focusing on having fun, enjoying each others company and appreciating each other. If you are open to new experiences and spend time together doing things that make each of you happy you will build the bond between you and trust will follow.

14) Don’t take each other for granted

It can be an easy trap to fall into that you get so comfortable with each other and the relationship that you take each other for granted. You can start noticing the little things that annoy or irritate you and start picking at those. Remember the awesome things about your relationship and take time to appreciate what you have and how you would feel if you lost that. Being grateful for what you have can invoke feelings of trust and appreciation for each other.

15) Know when to end the relationship

Of course, the main effort should be working on making a relationship a success, however there does come a time when you might have to accept that the trust has been broken and there is nothing more you can do to fix it. Often through desperation of trying to get the trust back and trying to get the relationship back to how it used to be when it was great, can mean that you stay trying to fix it for a long time whilst one or both parties are miserable. You can start questioning yourself and driving yourself mad, so there comes a time when the healthiest option is to end the relationship. This is when you know you have done everything in your power to make it work, but there are no options left and you are unable to mend it.


I’d love to hear in the comments below how you build trust and what you have done when it is broken.



  1. Faylinn March 25, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    My sister and her husband are currently going through relationship therapy, because they have been having trouble communicating for that last little while. I definitely think that they would get a lot out of applying the ATTUNE acronym in their lives, especially the part about having tolerance of different viewpoints. I think that I will pass on this article to her and hope that these 15 tips really help them to improve their relationship.


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