Giving your heart to someone else is an act of bravery, of courageousness. When we fall in love but refuse to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, then we are holding back our gift of love in order to protect ourselves. We are afraid to feel our own feelings. Afraid to experience the joy of allowing our partner to see our true self in case we get hurt. We are unable to trust. Love cannot flourish when one partner is holding back. So how can you build trust in your relationship?
Together But Separate
When two people remain separate in a relationship they do not build a foundation of trust. They stay aloof and self-reliant, even if all seems well on the surface. There is a wall around their deepest feelings. Strangely, this works for some couples if it’s balanced, and it's how they prefer to operate. However, a couple like this will never experience the true joy and oneness of a trusting, love-filled relationship. And if one of the couple yearns for the oneness of a sharing relationship but the other cannot let down their emotional guard, it is completely out of balance and can never survive.
Your Idea of What’s Best For Them
In many relationships, one partner decides what’s best for the other. This is not a foundation on which to build trust. Often one partner will hand over their personal decision making to the other because the dominant partner ‘always knows best’. Over time, it builds not trust, but resentment. It’s as though their life does not belong to them any more. This is not an equal, trusting relationship. Your idea of what is in their best interest does not trump their own. In other words, you don’t get to decide.
Build Trust From the Beginning
In order to gain your partner’s trust, you have to discover what they regard as their best interests. And to do that you have to know and understand them intimately. By intimately, I mean that you take the time and trouble to really listen to them. And then to comprehend what they are saying and feeling. Try to feel what they are feeling. You have to be with them in a special couple-only space. Not while watching TV, or dealing with the kids, or when you have an eye on your phone notifications, or even before or after making love – because at that time your mind will be on other aspects of intimacy.
Create a space where you are one hundred percent focussed on the other. And listen. Share your own feelings and acknowledge theirs. Of course, it will be to both partners’ advantage to listen at all the other times as well, as often they will reveal their life-desires, and also their vulnerabilities, when in the middle of preparing dinner or when under stress. In a good relationship the other partner will pick up on these diamonds of desires and take note.
Imagine You Are Your Partner
Sounds weird, yes? But this is a unique and rewarding process recommended by Teal Swan in order to begin to know who your partner is as a person. It is wholly up to you how you do this, but meditation is probably the best way. Sit quietly, breathing steadily. Imagine your partner sitting in the same position in front of you or right next to you. Now, imagine your own being seeping into theirs. Imagine what they are feeling. What they are wanting. How they are coping with their problems. Attune to their identity, leaving your own aside temporarily. Feel your way into their emotions, their very being. How do they feel when they are hurting? How it feels to them when you are both in a fight together. How they feel when stressed at work. Or when they are undermined.
Try to discover what they think is the best for them. Try to work out what they would want for themselves in any given set of circumstances. Try to understand their perspective on life, love, and your relationship. This is called empathetic alignment. You are standing in their shoes, so to speak.
To take this to the next level, you can do this with each other in person. You do a meditative mind-swap. Afterward, you can both share your experience and open up a meaningful dialogue about your trust issues.
Using Empathetic Alignment
Going forward, you can now put this new wisdom into practice. Before speaking, take a moment to ask yourself if you are standing up for your best interest or theirs. Neither is wrong or right, but know where you are coming from on any issue and be honest about it. So you could say, “Look, I understand that I am stating my wish in this situation, but I need you to know how I feel about it.” Or, “I’m trying to put myself in your place, perhaps I am misunderstanding what you want?”
In this way, you are able to have a proper grown-up interaction where both partners' needs are stated openly. You can both trust that you are being heard and understood instead of being caught up in the vicious cycle of a power struggle.
Being Vulnerable in a Relationship
We hear so much about relying on our inner strength and our intuitive guidance, and that’s all good. Yet, in a relationship sometimes you need to rely on your partner for those things. And that can only happen if you feel wholly comfortable about placing your trust in them. Many people avoid doing this in case they get hurt.
“I’ve been hurt before and I don’t want to get hurt again, so I’m going to hold this vulnerable part of me back. I’m not going to reveal it. I’m not going to hand it over for him/her to stamp on it and squelch it. I’m keeping well back from sharing my true self.”
This is understandable, yet it is possible to overcome this fear by taking it in tiny steps. After all, trust is built on a foundation of small things. Little everyday things that combine to build trust and create a beautiful relationship.
Remember that he or she cannot read your mind or intuit your desires. Even if they have carried out the ‘standing in your shoes’ process described above, they still need you to express your relationship wishes. So if you need a hug, then ask for one. Don’t expect them to always know instinctively. If you’d like them to be quiet, then ask. If you want them to take over and make a decision for you, again, just ask.
When you find that your partner is supportive of you in these small situations, you begin to feel more comfortable about being open with your feelings. When you know they are not going to make fun of you or use your words against you, then you can say whatever you need to say.
The Gift of Trust
Trust is a gift; your partner placing their heart in your hands is a gift. Therefore when we are given this precious vulnerability, it is our responsibility to look after it, nurture and treasure it. And remember, if you cannot trust in turn, you cannot truly love.