In today’s video Q & A I respond to Jose, who wants to know how to build trust in a relationship. Jose writes:
How do I build trust in a relationship and feel more secure in the relationship and trust my partner, as I work through and battle retroactive jealousy? I am less anxious about what her past relationships and experiences meant to her, but rather, what the possibility of similar experiences could mean to her, today.
Zachary Stockill: If you’re genuinely concerned about your partner straying or fooling around on you, or you think there might be something going on, the first thing I’d say is a bit of outside perspective, a bit of rational, grounded, objective outside perspective can be extremely helpful.
You can talk to a therapist or coach on your own. You can talk to one of your friends who hopefully knows both you and your partner and your relationship relatively well. This can be a very good reality check sometimes. So it’s important to start there. That not all jealousy obviously is irrational.
Sometimes there are people who might betray our trust, who might be fooling around behind our backs. I don’t mean to suggest that jealousy is always irrational. It’s not.
The majority of people who write to me are struggling with irrational jealousy.
But every so often, jealousy is relatively rational, so to speak. So a bit of outside perspective can really help.
The second thing I’d say is a big part of feeling secure in a relationship is first feeling secure within yourself.
Building a sense of self-reliance, a sense of anti-fragility, a sense of resilience, a sense of confidence in yourself, I really believe any positive relationship has to start from that point.
You’re going to have a very difficult time feeling secure in a relationship if you don’t feel secure within yourself, if you’re not confident, if you don’t have clarity about where you’re going in life and how you want to get there, if you don’t have clarity about the value that you’re bringing to the relationship, if you don’t have clarity about all the reasons why you are a fantastic match for your partner.
So above all, if I can give anyone watching this any tip in terms of building trust in a relationship, focus on building trust within yourself first.
You need to cultivate a sense of resilience, a sense of confidence, a sense of groundedness, which will allow you to make better decisions in your relationship because you’re not acting from a mindset of scarcity or insecurity or fear.
You’ll be making decisions in your relationship and in your life more generally, which are grounded in a sense of real confidence, in a sense of self-reliance.
You want to build a life so that any potential partner adds to your life and is a great compliment to your life, but doesn’t represent the source of meaning in your life. It doesn’t represent the source of all of your happiness, all of your joy.
This is a big reason why in my online course for breakup recovery, The Breakup Recovery Blueprint, I emphasize building an incredible single life for yourself because that’s what will allow you to attract an incredible partner into your life whenever you’re ready for it.
I really believe you can only build trust in a relationship if you’ve built an incredible single life yourself first.
So, this is the most important point I think that I can share is focus on building yourself up first, as you work to build trust within the relationship. At the same time, keep in mind all of the reasons why you’re a great match for your partner, what you bring to her table, so to speak, what she would be giving up if the relationship were not to work out for whatever reason.
Always remember that human beings are selfish, and this is not a cynical thing to say. It’s simply realistic. Human beings are selfish.
Of course, we can be compassionate and empathetic and loving and all that stuff. But especially in relationships, you’re not going to find many people who are with someone out of a sense of pity, at least not for very long.
Your girlfriend is with you because you add value to her life.
You bring an enormous amount to her life. Focusing on that and always remembering that will hopefully help you build trust within the relationship, will help you trust her love for you, will help you trust that her desire for you is real, her valuing you is real. And she’d be giving up an enormous amount if she were to leave you, or if she was actually fooling around with some other guy, whatever.
Also, focus on all the evidence in your relationship that you can trust her. Focus on all the times when perhaps she had opportunities to betray your trust, but she didn’t. Focus on all the things she said that demonstrate the fact that she’s loyal to you, that she’s committed.
If it helps, you can also just write all this stuff down. You can almost be like a lawyer, building the best possible argument that your girlfriend isn’t fooling around. She’s really in with you. She’s totally committed. Write all this stuff down.
You can do it in bullet point forms and keep it handy as a bit of a reality check for moments when you start losing yourself to obsessive, jealous thoughts.
When you start big getting paranoid, or you feel the urge to snoop or all these things, keep this list handy as almost like a reality check to keep you grounded, to keep you sane, to keep you calm during these moments when you might feel insecure or otherwise suspicious of her level of commitment to you.
But above all else, I have to come back to this idea of building trust within yourself first, building your own confidence, your own self-reliance, working on your mission, pursuing your goals, building an incredible life for yourself that has nothing to do with your woman life, I think, will automatically engender more trust in your relationship.
And remember that so much of our success in relationships comes down to two things. Number one, choosing a good partner. I mean, that’s half the battle right there.
And number two, not getting lazy in our relationships, not letting things slide, not letting our insecurity or suspicions or self-doubt run the show, working on ourselves to be the best possible partner that we can be, and trusting our partner until they give us a reason not to trust them.