Learning to trust in a new relationship

It takes a while to get to know someone. When we first enter a new relationship, many of us want to present the best version of ourselves, in the initial stages of a relationship we will be in the happy buzz of it all and so our best sides will be most prominent. 

It can take a while before we’re truly willing to let someone in – to know our insecurities, our hopes, our chequered family histories.

We often worry that our new partner won’t accept us warts and all – that they won’t like and accept us once they’re familiar with our quirks and faults.

Trust is an essential part of any relationship. It’s the foundation block upon which all the other good stuff – affection, intimacy, connection – is based.

How do we learn to trust someone?

It can be a scary thing to do. After all, when you begin to trust someone, you’re not just learning to rely on them – you’re giving up some of what you’ve learned in terms of relying on yourself. Trust can sometimes make you feel vulnerable.

Also, lots of people find this difficult because of what they’ve been through in previous relationships. If you’ve been cheated on or let down – or if you grew up in an environment where you had to learn to look after yourself – it can take even longer to let down those defenses. It’s common to worry that in doing so you risk being hurt all over again.

Talking it through

The first thing to say is that you can’t rush trust. Sometimes, it just takes time. If you’re finding it difficult, it might just be that you need to take things at a slower pace and see how you get on.

At the same time, it can be useful to think about any reasons you might have for finding it hard to trust a new partner. As mentioned, it could be memories from previous relationships or your family upbringing that are causing you to be cautious. There’s nothing wrong with this in itself – but it may be useful to talk this over with your partner so they know some of the challenges you’re facing (for tips on tackling difficult conversations with your partner, check out this article).

Ultimately, trust is about getting to a point where you feel you can openly communicate with your partner without having to worry – where you can be yourself and be confident you can say exactly how you’re feeling without thinking you’re going to be judged or dismissed. Bearing this in mind as a sort of ‘target’ can be useful.

Connecting to reality

It can be useful to think about positive evidence that there is trust in your relationship. Ask yourself: what real-world evidence do I have that my partner wants to make me feel cared for, appreciated and secure? You could run a sort of ‘inventory’. For example, if you had to ask them to do something for you, could you trust them to do it? Trying to connect how you’re feeling with reality can help you confront any issues and may help you realise they’re as much to do with fears or worries as they are with what’s actually happening between you and your partner. It's also important to be open to trusting your instincts, is there a reason to not trust them, have you felt let down or felt that their values and boundaries are different from yours.

Sometimes trust issues can come from a negative view of ourselves – even going as far as not being able to trust because we’re not sure we’re worthy of being loved. You may like to think along these lines – to test your negative version of yourself. Are you pushing them away because you’re intimidated by their affection? Again, this is about connecting how you’re feeling to reality: how much does how you’re feeling relate to what’s actually going on in the relationship?

It might sound strange, but couples counselling can be really good for new relationships too. It can help you get past any issues that are stopping you from developing trust so you can go forward together with more confidence. If you think you’re going to need a little help, why not give it a go? It may only take a few sessions before you’re feeling much more confident.

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