Sooner or later, the man in your life is bound to mess up. (HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only human!) But if you trust your partner, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re more likely to forgive and forget his mistakes than if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trust him, according a new study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Researchers from Northwestern University and Redeemer University College used a questionnaire to assess trust levels in 69 undergraduatesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ relationships. Then, the students filled out surveys about their partnersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ recent mishaps every two weeks for the next six months. They also rated the severity of the issue, how well their partner tried to make amends, and their own degree of forgiveness. At the end of the six-month period, participants in the most trusting relationships remembered their partnersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ past transgressions as less serious and were ultimately more forgiving.
While the study didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t examine exactly what caused these results, lead study author Laura Luchies, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Redeemer University College, says that trust appears to distort peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s memory of the past. One explanation: when you trust your partner to act in your best interest, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re more likely to let his mistakes slide because you see them as one-time events. But when you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trust him, you might play and replay the situation in your head, or assume itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s part of a pattern of bad behaviorÃ¢â‚¬”making it a lot more difficult to forget (or forgive).
The thing is, trust plays a more integral role in relationships than in simply keeping the peace. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Trust helps people think less about the risks of getting close to someone, depend on them, and see them in a positive light,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Luchies. The result: a more secure, fulfilling relationship for both of you.
To boost your bond at any stage in the game, follow these trust-amplifying tips:
Let him plan date night Trust is learned and earnedÃ¢â‚¬”youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll grant it, over time, to those who act supportive, dependable, and trustworthy, says Luchies. To give your partner opportunities to strut his stuff, ask him to make decisions that affect you. Start small: let him choose a restaurant. When he picks a place that suits your palateÃ¢â‚¬”not the burger joint he frequents with his friendsÃ¢â‚¬”youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll feel more comfortable relying on him for bigger decisions.
Show him your flaws Not everyone can tally a dinner tab tip in her head, or wake up in the morning with her hair as well-coiffed as it was the night before. But when you let him see your true colors, you give him the opportunity to accept the real youÃ¢â‚¬”even it reflects your insecurities. Once you realize that he wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t berate you for your math skills, or reject you for your bed head, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll feel more comfortable revealing bigger thingsÃ¢â‚¬”like life goals and family issuesÃ¢â‚¬”and trust that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be totally supportive.
Confide in him If you leave your office fuming, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t keep it all in when you meet him for after-work drinks. Ã¢â‚¬Å“By and large, you get what you give,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Joel Block, Ph.D., a certified couples therapist and author of more than 20 books on love and sex, including Broken Promises, Mended Hearts: Maintaining Trust In Love Relationships. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re open and self-revealing, your partner is more likely to be more open with you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t judge Every time your partner tells you something personalÃ¢â‚¬”like the major mistake he made at workÃ¢â‚¬”itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a critical moment that can either strengthen your intimacy or deteriorate it, says Block. If you criticize his behavior or dismiss his feelings, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll think twice about confiding in you next time. To make him feel accepted and promote more self-disclosure, express empathy and suggest solutions. And if he judges you? Say this: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I need to feel safe confiding in you and right now I feel attacked.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Keep your promises Ã¢â‚¬Å“Trust goes both ways,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Luchies. Meaning? If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not dependable, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect your partner to be. To show him youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trustworthy, be accountable: If he asks you to watch his intramural basketball game, show up before the first buzzer to secure a bleacher seat where he can see you from the court. And if you say youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll call him before bed, actually pick up the phone before you tuck in.
Be yourself in front of others If you tell him you got a measly raise, and tell his parents about your absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G promotion, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll wonder what else youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re capable of hiding. Present yourself accurately no matter what crowd youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in, and youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll show him youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a person whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worthy of his trust.
Tell him the truth Ã¢â‚¬Å“Even small lies are like psychological termites,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Block. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They take unnoticeable bites over time and eventually weaken the foundation of your relationship.Ã¢â‚¬Â So if your new statement bag cost more than what your guy earns in a month, be honest when he asks what you paid.
Arrive on time If you say youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be over at 7, but miss your train, call him to say youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be closer to 8:10. Being on time isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just considerate: itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s part of being able to count on someone, says Block. And if he knows he can count on you, then heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll make more of an effort to show that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s equally dependable.
Take his sideÃ¢â‚¬Â¦or at least be diplomatic Sometimes itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more important to be supportive than it is to be right. When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re brought into an argument between him and his buddy, stand up for your guy. And when heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wrong? Say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You both have good points, and I can see where youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re both coming from.Ã¢â‚¬Â Then, discuss it later in private.
Avoid unnecessary secrecy Especially if your partner has been betrayed beforeÃ¢â‚¬”or worse: youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve cheated on himÃ¢â‚¬”itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important to be as open as possible. So tell him who youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re texting. And leave your phone unlocked. Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of it as supervision. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s making a choice to help the other person heal,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Block.
photo: Tom Wang/Shutterstock More from WH:
The Mind Trick That Boosts Your Mood
How to Avoid a Missed Connection
The Relationship Lies You're Probably Telling
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