The Five Stages of Building Trust in a Relationship

Intimate relationships can give us extreme joy but also the greatest pain.  The most important component of a fulfilling intimate relationship is trust.  Creating and building trust can transform every relationship, and learning how to face our deepest fears, tap in to our inner strengths, and bring to our partners what they most need is where the building of trust begins.

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Trust is forged not during the easy times but in the stressful, difficult moments, when our priorities, commitments and loyalties come in to question.  When you can form trust in these moments, your relationship will unite and grow.

Following this five stage process, each layer building on the last, will build trust and create a relationship stronger and more fulfilling than you may ever have imagined possible.

The basis of trust is your commitment to put your partner’s needs first.  Focusing on you and putting your needs first will break down both trust and respect, and thinking you can create trust once you’ve got what you want first will stop the creation of trust before it has even begun. 

Stage One, Commit and Declare:

You must start from the very beginning by proclaiming your absolute commitment to your partner.

You might say: I don’t want to hurt us.  I love you and I will take care of you no matter what.  I love you too much to argue with you.  I am hurting inside so I can only imagine how much you must be hurting too.

Stage Two, Create Heartfelt Emotion:

Bringing forth emotions that are heartfelt will bring with them healing and love.  Committing intellectually, from the head, is not enough. You must produce the emotions that will bring about reconciliation and those emotions can come only from the heart.  Get out of your head and into your heart.  This is where the magic happens and will create the powerful antidote to anger and sadness.

Stage Three, Share, Listen, Learn:

Share the truth about your fears with your partner, without blame, and listen to theirs, from your heart space, without trying to immediately fix anything.  Allow your partner to give honest feedback, which is a sign of how successfully you have met your partner’s needs.  There may be expressions of doubt, regret, disappointment but don’t beat yourself up, instead, show your loving determination to put your partner first and to honor their need for love, their way.

Stage Four, Align Vision:

Find a place of mutual understanding, hear your partner’s needs and give them a loving response.  It is important to repeat your declaration and align your interests in a shared vision, a compelling future for you both.

Trust is built by repeating and reinforcing the first four levels, starting with commitment to generating loving emotion, to sharing and listening and giving a loving response before aligning for a common future.

Stage Five, Act of Love:

It is important to end any difficult conversation with an act of love.  If you can’t end on a loving note, you have not succeeded in creating and building trust.  You don’t fully understand your partner, or your partner may not feel fully understood.

Go back to stages one, two and three until you have heartfelt understanding and are truly putting your partner’s needs first.