More On Building Trust in Relationships

Dr. Larry Cohen (856) 352-5428

We fall in love. We idolize and worship our new lover, and during about the first 6 months, we are on our best behavior.

after 6 months, reality (and your partner) begin to reveal itself. You learn more about your partner’s attitudes toward the world, toward life, toward commitment, toward trust, and toward you. Now’s the time when the rubber hits the road, and you see your partner with more clarity – the fog induced by romance begins to clear.

It is now time to take stock – to really squint hard and see your partner as they truly are. Is this ‘your person’? Or not. Just where are you when it comes to commitment? To a future together? to spending your life together?

The importance of unconditional acceptance of the other: I believe that a couple cannot be fully intimate, and cannot live happily ever after, without unconditional acceptance of each other. If this is really ‘your person’, you need to ask whether you can truly accept your partner for who they are. Not just the good stuff – the sex, the love notes, and the insightful exchange of gifts – I’m talking about all of IT. And some of it you just don’t care for. Such as: you discover piles of unhung cloths scattered all over her house. you discover She’s a bit disorganized; well, no, she’s really a bit of a slob... unconditional acceptance: Can you live the next 50 years in total acceptance of this? If not, your future together may be an unhappy one, as you try to change her, to bring her around to neatness, to get her to see the value in neatness – like you do.

To be truly happy, I believe you must avoid attempts at making your partner more and more like you. They are their own person, with their own peculiar way of doing things (as are you). Unconditional acceptance of your partner. Let it be the law.

 For the past 6 months you have willingly and openly given your heart to him. This is the way of new love. soon, the question of long-term trust must be examined, as you are doomed to fail without it. “can I trust this person?” “do they have my best interest at heart?” “will they protect me like a gem, always careful not to hurt me.” Can you trust this person with your life and happiness? or, Will they lie and cheat? This question takes time to answer.

 The important issues are both “should I trust”, and “how do we build trust”. because Without trust, relationships simply die on the vine. How does one build trust? with it, the relationship will continue to grow.

Before you can build trust, you must understand what it means to you and to your partner. You must find out if you have a mutual understanding of trust - it’s bounds, it’s rules, it’s expectations. This knowledge is essential, so I suggest you Get over the fear of scaring your partner away with big relationship questions. Don’t assume your partner sees things the same way you do. Get specific so you avoid future misunderstandings and betrayals. Be certain to communicate clearly what your behavioral expectations are. Be specific regarding what you are looking for and how you ‘SEE’ relationships. What are your expectations, and what are theirs? Honest, open, clear dialogue and discussion leads the way to building trust.

Ways TO BUILD TRUST IN your RELATIONSHIP:

KEEP YOUR PROMISES, BIG AND SMALL

Trust 101 teaches us the importance of keeping the promises we make. Yet, sometimes the small things are forgotten. Don’t forget, some of the small things are really the big things. When you’re running late, call. Walk the dog as promised and pay the bills on time. Make your promises about small stuff as important as your promises about big stuff. Keep your promises, no matter how insignificant you may believe them to be. Being trustworthy has no size.

DON’T KEEP SECRETS

Keep your personal conversations at home. Do not keep secrets from each other, instead keep them for each other. It is only right to talk about something once you hear your partner bring the subject up in a conversation. Don’t forget, she might only share certain information with certain people, so keep her secret and let her decide who to share it with.

 TRUST IS EARNED

Don’t assume trust exists and always be working to earn it. When we stop taking trust for granted and make it a priority, we will be conscious of our actions and the perceptions of those actions to our partner.

FACE TO FACE: COMMUNICATE OPENLY AND IN PERSON

It is essential that most communication, especially of great importance, should happen face to face. The true meaning of a message can get lost via text, email and sometimes even on the phone. Make sure you are both heard and understood by talking face to face.

PRACTICE UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE AND A NON-JUDGMENTAL ATTITUDE

KEY: you might not understand why something is important to your partner, but the fact that it is important is all that matters. Before you can trust, you must respect each other and your differences without judgment. Just because you don’t value certain subjects or concepts doesn’t mean you should brush them off.

BE VULNERABLE

Be real with your partner and that means sharing things that you often keep hidden. The ultimate sign of trust is living your truth and by doing so your partner will be more comfortable living theirs.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-CARE

Taking good care of yourself adds to the health of the relationship. We are better people and better in our relationships when we take the time to work on ourselves. We must remember to grow both as individuals and as couples.

BE SUPPORTIVE

It is essential to be supportive of your partner. Supporting each other is most essential when trust is first forming and growing. No one is perfect, and we learn from our mistakes. Supporting your partner when they are trying something new or are acting outside of their comfort zone can be very powerful. It shows your partner that they don’t have to be just one way; that you will love and support them even when they make mistakes. Being supportive of ‘the person’ completely, whether in good times or bad, allows us to fully be who we are. Knowing our partner has our back regardless of our situation goes a long way toward building trust.

BE FORGIVING

Holding a resentment toward our partner is poisonous. Trusting doesn’t mean mistakes won’t happen - and when they do be forgiving. We need to feel confident that we can make mistakes, be imperfect, and fall flat on our face while enveloped in our partners unconditional acceptance of who we are. sometimes we hurt our partner emotionally without knowing it. And our partner needs to be forgiving and loving regardless. Why? Because there is faith and truth in your bond. The only way to move forward is to forgive, especially those we love the most.

Show a United Front

Disagreeing in public or in front of friends and family never goes over well. If you disagree with your partner, find time to sit at home and communicate with each other later. Shaming your partner in front of colleagues is cruel, and as a loving, trustworthy partner, you must be vigilant in supporting your partner’s healthy sense of self-worth.

To build trust, you must be behaviorally consistent and do what you say you are going to do. Don’t mistake small promises as insignificant. A broken promise is just that, no matter how small or large. Respect and be true to your partner. Be on their side – always. Even when they’re wrong, seize the opportunity to communicate openly, without judgment. Most importantly, be willing and committed to accepting your partner fully. Love all of who they are – without condition - with Arms open and hearts willing.

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Building (or re-Building) Trust in Your Relationship

Dr. Larry Cohen (856) 352-5428

Throughout the day, most of us have our eyes focused on and our noses buried in our smartphone or tablet. If we aren't browsing, we are communicating with others. Today’s communication technology is revolutionary, allowing us to call, text, and e-mail anyone with speed and ease. Here’s a question: have your communication skills improved as a result? One might conclude that all this furious communication would inevitably lead to better communication between people. In my experience, this question does not have a straightforward answer. The advantages of today’s communications technology are nearly endless. the affordability and Ease of communicating with others allows us to stay in touch with loved ones many times during the day, whether they are close by, or overseas.

Yet when I work with couples, I often hear about the darker side of texting and e-mailing. Its mere existence can cause conflict and lead to distrust within committed relationships. Sometimes problems arise because of how or how often a couple communicates. most often, however, problems erupt when one partner discovers that the other Has been texting or e-mailing someone else - someone who isn’t them, and someone they perceive as a threat to the relationship.

If any of the quotes below are familiar, read on:

“I checked his cell phone and found text messages from an old girlfriend. Why didn’t you tell me she had been texting you? How long has this been going on? Have you texted her back? Are you covering something up? How can I trust you if I don’t know who you’re texting?”

Or

“Her e-mail account was open on the iPad. I took a quick glance, then couldn’t help but snoop around. I couldn’t believe what I found. Why would she keep old e-mails from her ex-husband? I’m her husband now, and she needs to cut her ties with him. How can I trust her if I don’t know who she’s e-mailing? Who else has been contacting you?”

Or

“I checked his cell phone and found dozens of text messages from a girl named Nancy. Who the heck is Nancy? He told me she’s just a friend he met at work, but they text each other over a dozen times each day. Some suggestive comments are going back and forth – what the heck am I to make of all of this? Are you having an affair?”

When I work with couples, one or both partners may confess to phone snooping, e-mail checking, and rapid-fire texting during disagreements (“I’m trying to work, and he continues texting me non-stop, all day. It’s 100% compulsive and out of control. I can’t go on like this.”)

Why do people do it? most are motivated by one of two beliefs, 1) “I don’t trust him” or 2) “I’m afraid of losing her.” driven by 'fear', snoopers snoop hoping to waylay their fears or confirm their suspicions.

But snooping can be dangerous. upon discovery of possible incriminating evidence, Strong emotions can overpower the snooper and cloud their view of reality. It is Essential to Pay attention to the evidence in front of you - on what is real, and not on what might be real. If you fail to do this, strong emotions can lead you to misinterpret and misunderstand what you find. For example, discovering that your partner recently received a text from an old love may be completely innocent. The text came in, he ignored it, and did not respond. But when you discover it and read it, fear kicks in and convinces you that a) he is going to leave me for this other person, b) he is starting an affair with or is having an affair with this woman behind my back, or c) he has been communicating with this woman for a long time and has been erasing all the texts between the two of them. In all 3 of these examples, Your snooping has lead you to feel unsafe, fearful, and distrusting. Most essential, Any Misinterpretation of what you've uncovered will damage the intimacy and trust you and your partner currently share.

Again, you must examine the evidence. One text message does not prove any of the above. If you trust your partner, you will likely conclude that it’s just one unsolicited text from a curious or lonely past partner. To avoid conflict, you and your partner can agree to keep each other informed of any incoming texts (or e-mails) that either of you receives from past loves. keeping your partner fully informed of unsolicited communication from an ex can help avoid misunderstanding and senseless arguments. This applies to e-mails as well. Finding an old stash of e-mails your partner has saved written by her ex does not mean that she is unhappy and coveting a past relationship; perhaps they remind her of her youth, of her past life, and of who she once was. They’re just old e-mails, and your partner might simply be sentimental.

Of course, sometimes our fears are realized, and we discover that our partner has been having an affair. At a crossroad, you must decide to leave or remain together. To rebuild, both partners must commit to sharing the whole truth. The unfaithful partner must come 100% clean, and if you have secrets to tell, now is the time for you to reveal them. Trust cannot re-establish itself until all secrets are revealed. I always recommend working with a couple’s coach during relationship rebuilding. Your coach will provide a clearer understanding of what steps need to be taken to rebuild your relationship, as well as provide support and guidance while you recover.

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A Word on Emotional Affairs

An emotional affair can be as devastating to a relationship as a sexual affair. Emotional affairs deplete emotional energy and create relational distance. As humans, we have a finite amount of emotional energy to share. An emotional affair depletes your energy and leaves little for you to share with your primary partner. the emotional and sexual intimacy you share with your partner will begin to fade, and distance will continue to grow between you. Here are some signs that you are having an emotional affair: a) Frequent contact with the person when you are not physically with them. Frequent communication with this person and at questionable hours. Much time spent texting and e-mailing this person. B) Very private matters are discussed. You begin to share the details of and problems with your current relationship. You share most of your personal problems with this person. This often leads to further discontent with your spouse. C) You begin to think about him or her all the time, and you find that you cannot wait until you connect with this person again. D) Instead of calling your spouse for emotional support, you call your emotional spouse. You call them first when something new or exciting happens in your life. You also call them first when you’re feeling down or depressed, valuing their support over that of your spouse. 5. Infatuated, you believe this person understands you best. They get who you are and what you need emotionally. E) Secrets begin being kept. You lie by omission, not telling your spouse about your communication with or time spent with this person. Text messages become secret, and you find yourself deleting texts and e-mails from this person, scared you will be found out. F) You give more of yourself to him or her than you give to your spouse. You share your innermost thoughts and feelings with this person and leave your spouse in the dark. G) Although not sexual, the level of intimacy that is created in an emotional affair can destroy your primary relationship just as a sexual affair can.

Ending emotional affairs and rebuilding following an emotional affair is often difficult because the offending partner continues to believe that their emotional partner is just a ‘friend’. They struggle to understand and see the harm that their emotional affair causes or caused.

 

Healthy relationships are built on trust and don’t require text or e-mail snooping. If you do it, Ask yourself why you do it. Examine past relationships as well as your current one. You may trust your current partner fully but be drawn to snooping because of past relational failures. Of Course, you may simply not trust the person you are currently with. If so, question why you are still in the relationship. If you don’t trust your partner, snooping is not going to build trust. It will continue to cause you pain, and prevent you from finding the love you desire and deserve.

 

Larry Cohen