We all know that trust is a critical ingredient for a successful relationship - but what do we actually know about trust and how is it built.
In his research, Dr John Gottman found that the basis of conflict for new couples - concerned trust: ‘Will you be there for me when I need you?’.
The building of trust is not instantaneous in relationships. It is created slowly over time through small acts of turning towards each other, being there for your partner and expressing compassion and empathy for one another’s feelings.
Interestingly in relationships, many conflicts concern the defining and building of trust. ‘Are you there for me when I call, when I am worried, upset, hurt or angry?’.
When couples can lean into each other with understanding and gentleness, even when negative emotions are expressed, trust is built. Whilst new relationships may believe trust is strong from the start - it can quickly evaporate when couples turn away from each other and negative conflict can escalate. Trust is grown by small moments of being there for your partner in good times - but most importantly when that partner is experiencing negative emotions. ‘When you are in pain, feeling sad or angry - my world stops - and I try to understand what is happening for you’.
The success or failure of building trust in a relationship is based on how conflict occurs. If the ratio of positivity to negativity exceeds 5:1 during conflict discussions… trust is built. That is, 5 positive interactions, gestures or connections occur for every 1 negative interaction during that conflict conversation. More positives to negatives will communicate that you are important, and your issues or concerns, and all of your emotions … are important to me.
Here is a great communication model that helps couples create a safe, positive, and trust-filled connection.
The word “ATTUNE” is actually an acronym that stands for six processes:
So, trust is built intentionally. Trust is built in small moments. Trust is built in attuning to all of the emotions your partner expresses.
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