The 4 Steps of Building Trust in a Relationship

advice: relationship john gray

If you find that building trust in a relationship is hard for you, you’re not alone.

Trust issues are the biggest challenge for women in relationships today — especially because men can seem so inconsistent with their love and attention!

But the number one thing that will make a man close his heart to love and stop his caring attention is to not trust him.

Herein lies a problem.

In this post, we have the solution. You’ll learn 4 powerful steps to help you build trust in a relationship so you can both grow in love on a solid foundation of trust.

Hi John,

I am unable to trust. It's constant and disturbing. 

It ruins good relationships and keeps me from feeling good about myself and my partner.

– Joana


The truth is that not trusting in a relationship can ruin the relationship.

Trust is so important because often when men feel like you don’t trust them, their hearts close and they stop caring.


Building Trust in a Relationship Is How He’ll Open His Heart


When a man feels that you don’t trust or appreciate him, that’s when he closes his heart.

He just says, "I don't care. I give up."

For him, it's kind of like going to a job where you don't get paid. You stop caring. You lose your motivation. You lose your energy.

And, as a woman, you’ve probably experienced that loss of motivation in men somewhere along the way in relationships.

Because that affected your ability to trust.

For women, when their heart is open, they're trusting and receptive.

But then, if a man disappoints you or doesn't give you back what you feel you deserve, you begin to close your heart. You may feel he doesn't love you.

Then you think, "I guess I just can't trust. It hurts too much. It hurts to connect and then have somebody pull away."

So what can you do to begin building trust in a relationship again?


How to Heal Trust Issues in a Relationship


One way to heal trust issues in a relationship is the therapeutic way.

But another is having new insights about relationships.

Because it is the meaning that you give to a man's behaviors that determines whether you can trust him or not. 


So much of the time, what's going to happen in your relationships with men is this:

  • A man is going to get close
  • His heart is going to open
  • You're going to feel safe to open up, and then...
  • He's going to pull away


He might pull away because…


When this happens, you may think, "Oh, I can't trust that love will be there all the time.” Because you need continuity and consistency. Otherwise, it's too shocking to you.

Well, the first thing is having the right insight to recognize this is normal.

The weather changes, but the sun's out there all the time. When the clouds come, they cover the sun, but it doesn't mean that the sun's not there.

His love is like the sun. It’s always there, even when it’s not shining directly on you.

And this is a very important lesson for you to learn if you want to find your ability to trust.

Building trust in a relationship requires learning these new lessons. You may not have learned them as a child, but you can learn them now with will and practice.

Remind yourself that when men pull away, it's not about you and it doesn't mean he doesn't love you.


Nothing You Do Can Prevent Him From Pulling Away Sometimes


Even if you said something that annoyed him and he pouted and pulled away, that's not about you. That's about his inability to feel secure within himself when he doesn't get all the love he wants.


So what happens is he has a natural reaction to... 

  • Pout
  • Blame you
  • Be critical
  • Just become quiet and ignore you for a while


That's what he needs to do to feel good again. Then, suddenly he'll go through a personality change and be more open to you.

Unfortunately, then you'll tend to close down because you think, "Oh, I can't trust this because it doesn't last."

Well, one of our biggest lessons in life is to accept change.

When you understand men better, you don't take his fluctuations so personally.

Accepting how he pulls away and comes back is an important step towards building trust in a relationship.


Is a Therapeutic Approach Necessary?


When you have trust issues in a relationship, it’s generally from something that happened in your childhood. Maybe things were safe for a while, and then some change took place unexpectedly. And it was a shock.

You could have had a perfect childhood and just one mishap created this feeling of distrust.

That can actually be more traumatic to a person than having a lot of mishaps, or not getting all the love and support that you needed.

Because more consistency is less traumatic than experiencing everything as wonderful and then boom, something happens and out of nowhere, danger comes.

It's like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. He was known for creating a sense of comfort and safety in his films, and then suddenly something bad would happen that you didn't expect as an audience member. That creates the biggest shock and trauma.

So then what happens later in life, when things are feeling good and you're starting to feel safe, then the fear comes up.

It’s the feeling “safe” that is threatening and dangerous, therefore you can't let yourself get to that place of safety and security. So there's a reaction where you simply don’t trust.

Now, let's look at how you can change this scenario…

You need to practice new relationship skills, and I suggest using what I call the four steps of getting what you want in your relationship.


Step 1:
Notice What You Do to Sabotage Your Relationship — and Stop


Notice when you start having thoughts like… 

  • "I can't trust that, I can't trust that, I can't trust that.”
  • “Does he really love me?”
  • “Is he there for me?”
  • “Can I open up?"


So you want to first notice that inner dialogue and then you want to stop.

The thing is you can't stop unless you have someplace to go, so that’s step two.

The reason your brain becomes overactive and starts looping in your mistrust at that time is because you don't know where to go. And why are you in that state? Because you started to feel safe.

Your brain goes “safety is danger,” and that causes an adrenaline or cortisol response.

These are stress hormones. 

And at that time, your male hormones start to increase and your female hormones go down. So you don't have a sense of wellbeing and comfort and ease. You're afraid of comfort and ease on a conditioned level. It helps to recognize that it’s basically all hormones here because the mind and the hormones are connected.


In the first step you notice the thoughts you're having and your sabotaging behaviors, which could be:

  • Asking questions like, "Do you love me?”
  • Making statements like, “You don't care about me."
  • Withholding
  • Punishing
  • Trying to teach lessons
  • Disapproving of him
  • Doubting him like “I’m not so sure.”


Those are some of the things people do that sabotage their relationships. So, to start building trust in your relationships, as soon as you notice yourself doing that, say to yourself, "Stop, stop, stop," and go to step two.


Step 2:
Engage in Activities to Experience Happiness That Don’t Depend on Him


You have to get out of the fear that you can't get what you need, which causes neediness.

Instead, you want to make an effort to recognize that there's other things you can do in your life that will actually raise your estrogen and lower your stress levels. And then all that fear, which gives rise to the mistrust, will go away.


You want to:

  • Interrupt the pattern and shift the thinking
  • Go and do something else that will raise estrogen and lower your stress levels.


You want to think:

"Okay, now I'm going in the wrong direction. Let me turn my attention over to something that will occupy my attention that stimulates estrogen."


And then shift gears to something you can trust, and create a situation where you're dependent on someone other than your partner to give you what you need.


This includes: 

  • Doing something on your own that you enjoy doing, like gardening
  • Talking to a coach or therapist
  • Praying to God
  • Listening to music
  • Going for a walk
  • Petting your animal and connecting with them
  • Spending time in nature
  • Getting love and support from a friend or family member


All of these activities would be a pattern interrupt.

So every time you notice your pattern of complaining or mistrusting or questioning or doubting, stop and go do one thing that makes you happy where you're dependent on something outside yourself.

Do things to make you feel good.




Step 3:
Go Back to Your Partner and Express Love or Do Some Nice Things for Him


What kind of love would you want to express that helps a man open up to you?

To know that, you simply have to understand a man’s primary need in a relationship:

He needs to feel seen and appreciated for successfully meeting his partner’s needs.

So, get him to do something to help you and appreciate him for it.


Now, I know if you have trust issues, you're going to have a hard time asking for help. All kinds of resistance may come up like:


Let go of all those old pattern thoughts and open up to the idea that asking for help in little things that he can do for you, and that you can appreciate, is good for both of you.

For example, you could ask him which dress to wear, listen to his suggestion, and say "Oh, that's so helpful. Thank you."

By asking for help, you're actually giving him the gift he needs, which is to feel he has significance in providing something for you.


Advanced Skill: When you ask for little things and overlook his mistakes, practicing the phrase: “Hey, no big deal,” you supercharge this gift.


When you do this, you're giving him the love he needs.

And what you'll find is he'll start responding to you more and reassure you that the love you need is available to you.

This will help with building trust in your relationship because as he receives the love he needs, he will give more and more to you, and your trust will grow.


Step 4:
Spin FEAR into Relationship Gold With This Writing Exercise


Here’s how you do it.

1. Sit down with a piece of paper when you’re feeling anxious or lacking trust. 

2. Ask yourself “What am I afraid of?” 

Put it into words and feel the answer to the question.

And keep asking: “What else am I afraid of? What else am I afraid of?”

As you look at your fears and keep writing them out, your mind is able to become a little bit more objective and ask, "Is that really true? Is that always true?"


3. Then, for every fear, you want to put it in terms of “I don't want.” 

So if you’re afraid he doesn't love you, then you don't want him to reject you.

If you’re afraid he's being critical of you, then you don't want anyone to be critical of you.

Whatever your fears are, turn them into, “I don't want” statements.

By looking at those, you’re becoming reflective and objective, which takes away fear.


4. From there, now focus on what you DO want.

And when you express what you do want, just start writing it without thinking about if it’s possible or not.

Just focus on what you do want and it could be about anything. Continue letting it flow, expressing in your writing what you want.


5. Then pause, and imagine having all that you want.

Use your imagination, not worrying about how you get it. Just imagine how it would feel.


6. Next, let yourself go through all those possible feelings and imagine it's in the future, you now have all of it, and you're grateful for what's happened.

Then write out, I'm grateful for... and write down everything on your “wish list.”

You'll feel so much better when you do that.


It's amazing how gratitude takes away fear because fear is the expectation of not enough.

The expectation of not enough is because we're looking into the past where we didn't have enough.

The only reason we anticipate not getting enough is because in the past there were times where we didn't get enough. But when you start focusing on gratitude, now you're shifting gears to another part of your brain that doesn't have worries, mistrust, or anxiety.

Here, I've given you a lot of opportunities to continue to grow in your ability to start building trust in a relationship again.

You could also go talk to a good coach or therapist to explore your past and do something which I call re-parenting. You can learn more about the re-parenting process in my books, like How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have, which will help you learn how to give yourself the support you need so that you can now have more love to give others.

But remember, the first step is to realize that F-E-A-R is simply False Evidence Appearing Real.

Or another one of my favorite acronyms for F-E-A-R is Forgetting Everything's All Right. That's what we have to do.


And before you can get to this stage where something clicks on in your brain that says, "Hey, it's okay. It's alright," you need to do all 4 steps:

  • Notice what you do to sabotage your relationship, and stop.
  • Go back to your partner and express love or do some nice things for him.
  • Spin FEAR into relationship gold with this writing exercise.


So these are some great suggestions and it takes a while, but stay at it to keep building trust in your relationship. You'll be able to find a part of you which is trusting and able to receive more love and this very empowering. You certainly deserve it.


Grow in love,


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