When one partner in a relationship is unable to trust the other, enjoyment fades into misery, peace devolves into constant bickering and relaxing activities have the potential to turn into stressful ordeals. Trust comes down to a feeling of safety, writes Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. in the "Psychology Today" article, “The One Key Element That Can Build Your Relationships.” Because fear and insecurity are at the root of habitual mistrust, easing those fears and nurturing the self-confidence of an insecure partner are important components of creating a healthy relationship based on trust.
Be a Good Listener
Good communication skills are essential for establishing trust within a relationship. Why? Because letting the person finish a sentence or complete thought without interrupting, being attentive to both verbal and nonverbal messages and giving nonjudgmental feedback all demonstrate a high level of respect. The more effectively we communicate, the easier it is to arrive at a deeper, more compassionate understanding. This rapport is invaluable when it comes to resolving conflicts and establishing respect and trust, asserts HelpGuide.org’s article, “Effective Communication.” A person who is confident of being respected and knows she will be listened to and understood will be able to trust her partner more readily.
In establishing a trust-filled relationship, it is important to be reliable. This means being on time for dates and other occasions and fulfilling all stated or implied promises. A good rule of thumb is, “Don’t make promises you can’t -- or are unwilling to -- keep.” If you are unexpectedly tied up at work or school, keep your girlfriend informed of the delay and its possible impact on plans. Nothing undermines trust quite like being kept waiting on a regular basis and remaining clueless about the reason. An insecure person is much more likely to interpret such thoughtlessness as a sign of abandonment, and any progress toward trust in the relationship will be undermined as a result.
Because developing trust depends on a sense of safety, showing an unwavering respect for any and all physical, emotional and psychological boundaries is essential. Although it is up to each individual to communicate personal boundaries, as the partner of an insecure girlfriend, you must be especially alert to nonverbal cues and must learn to read facial expressions and body language. This includes “listening for what is not said,” suggests the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University's “Effective Listening” web page. As with effective verbal communication, giving feedback is helpful and ensures that your interpretation is correct. For example, simple feedback such as, “You seem uncomfortable with this,” will let your girlfriend know that you are sensitive to her personal boundaries, which will enhance her feelings of emotional safety and her ability to trust.
Avoid Mind Games
In a relationship with someone who is insecure and who lacks faith in her own lovability, it is especially important to remain authentic and to avoid emotional “games” such as flirting and boasting about previous romantic conquests. It is also important to avoid teasing and to steer clear of any temptation to indulge in jealousy or possessiveness. Building trust in a relationship takes time. A consistent attitude of respect and reliability will go a long way toward establishing a healthy relationship in which both partners feel confident and safe.
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