Updated: Jun 28
It’s rarely debated that the key to a stable relationship is trust. But with so much uncertainty in the world, it can be difficult to put our guard down. Those in the gay/queer community know It’s easy to curl into ourselves when the unknown is howling at the door. Here are the key staples for how to grow trust in your relationship and nurture that same trust in yourself.
Oh, how easy it is to say you will listen. When things get heated listening feels impossible. But it's key to a strong relationship. Listening helps you understand your partner and helps them know your needs. A balanced, reciprocal communication volley is what’s needed for trust building. For some, it may take some practice or even need a little help. Couples may make use of a talking stick which is passed back and forth during a discussion. The one holding the stick has the floor while the other must maintain silence and listen.
Respect Rules and Boundaries
For many, relationships are all about learning about one another. It's also an important opportunity for teaching about ourselves. At the beginning of a relationship, there’s a prime period of sharing likes, dislikes, and even fears and desires. This is a very important moment for discussing boundaries and rules. Boundaries are the guides for a relationship, the rule book, of sorts. And for those who identify as gay it’s important to help us better advocate for ourselves when we build that comfort asking for respect from loved ones. Rules and Boundaries are critical for those who have endured trauma and/or experienced abusive relationships. They help foster self-worth, which can become expendable in a toxic relationship. Establishing rules and boundaries allows both members to express their what they need. As a teacher starts the new school year by having students help create a list of rules, couples, too, can create a list of rules. A common example is not going to sleep angry. Couples may make a point to reach a truce or appropriate stopping point if they need to finish later. This allows both sides to have a voice but also embraces self-care.
Speak Your Truth
The gay community knows the importance of truth speaking and living their truth. Building trust comes from being comfortable speaking your truth. If your heart skips a beat when checking the bank balance because of your partner’s Amazoning habit, it’s important to discuss those concerns. If you’re not ready to plunge into parenthood like your love, you should be able to tell them without fear or shaming. Even when tough talks come, trust is nurtured by being able to express yourself without judgment and without fear. More and more we are seeing this with health and wellness. In the past, hidden where our mental health issues. Suddenly a panic attack sneaks in leaving your new partner horrified to find you gasping for breath, trying to explain. With stigmas dissipating, things like health and wellness issues are discussed. Knowing someone loves all of you, even the complicated bits, builds trust. Being able to give yourself freely and without bias, embraces trust.
From newborns to those transitioning from life to death, the human touch is important. In a world where we can so easily disassociate, touch is one of those elements that help bring us back. Holding and cuddling actually lower blood pressure. Science tells us oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, is released when we touch someone we care about and/or who cares about us. Therapists will often ask clients to try and push in when they want to pull away. It's important to note there are health reasons to withdraw, especially in abusive relationships. In healthy relationships though, moving toward one another rather than retreating is beneficial. So what is touch? Hugs? Hand Holding? Sex? All of this. It can also be something as simple as a hand on the back to something more intense, like a body massage. Touch can be a long hug goodbye or fixing your love’s coat collar so they stay warm. While hugs and hand-holding are familiar, touch can also take less physical forms. For those with trauma and abuse histories, touching can be triggering, even with a trusted individual. For some, easing into touch nurtures trust. Touch is about comfort. Creating comforting communication can be facial expressions, a smile, a lingering glance. Handing a coat and scarf to your loved one or helping them with it on is comforting. Relationships can like following a complicated roadmap. But trust can become the guide that leads a couple home. Trust is about being close to the person you love, as close as possible, without losing yourself.
Did you know that your communication style could simply be causing you difficulties, but your relationship is fine? If you’re curious about how your communication style plays into your relationship, here’s a quiz offering some insight. Share it with your partner and see how it helps with trust building.