Earning Trust in a Relationship

Last week my boyfriend made the hour drive to keep me company while I was pet-sitting for a family out of town. I get spooked easily staying in their big house by myself, so he spent the night to protect me from the boogey man I was convinced was in the basement waiting for me.

The following morning he had to leave earlier than I had expected, which is not a big deal. But I could not stop crying about it. It had been a hard few days with my family, so this small disappointment was all it took to send me over the edge. The floodgates were open and I couldn’t stop the onslaught of tears.

People who know me well know that I absolutely hate crying in front of others. It’s a vulnerable state to be in, and one that I’ve had a hard time embracing over the years. To let someone see that side of me is a huge deal.

But for years now, my boyfriend has consistently showed me that he is worthy of seeing every side of me. Even though we have not consistently dated since we met, we’ve known each other since the sixth grade. In high school, when I was facing some of the most tumultuous days in my family and personal life, he was there for me. He let me sob on the phone as I dealt with my chaotic home. He made sure I got to school on particularly terrible mornings and was always waiting with a hug and genuine concern for how I was. He never betrayed my trust or took advantage of my vulnerability with him. He was always an emotional rock when I needed it.

If my boyfriend hadn’t already earned my total trust after all the years I’ve known him, I might have gone to the bathroom and tried to compose myself before letting him see me. Or if that wasn’t possible, maybe I would have spent the rest of the day self-consciously agonizing over what he must be thinking about my hyper-emotional self. I could have worried that he saw my blotchy and tear-stained face and fretted over the fact that I let my guard down in front of him.

But I didn’t. I went downstairs and let him see me in all my mess. I looked at him through tear-filled eyes and told him I loved him. Then later, once we both got some distance from the conversation, I video called him so that I could better explain why I was upset and so that we could end a conversation with a smile.

No frantic worrying in the meantime, no irrational fears that he was going to leave me because I had a rough morning. Just trust. Whatever mood I’m in, whether I’m fun to be around at a given moment or not,  I feel I can trust that he loves and accepts me right where I am. I know he isn’t afraid of facing whatever highs and lows come our way, so  my fear of being rejected after I’ve opened up is gone.

If my boyfriend hadn’t earned my trust, then I would always be shielding parts of myself for fear he would dislike or judge those sides of me—emotionally keeping him at a distance. But because we have both let each other in, we can be our true selves around each other. Whether it means me crying or him wanting to share something he is struggling with that week, we are open, honest, and vulnerable with each other.

Genuine trust means letting your significant other see all of you—the good, the bad, the put together, and the messy. And for us, we’ve found this level of trust and emotional intimacy is one of the most beautiful and worthwhile things about dating.

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1 Comment

  • For me, trust is the first thing to considering a relationship, without it no amount of love is enough. We are in Long Distance Relationship for 4 years and only thing that keep us going is our trust for each other.

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