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When it comes to romantic relationships, trust is one of the foundational aspects that keeps couples together – happily and healthily. It’s the glue of relationships.
When you start dating your partner, you need to build trust from scratch. And things happen in life that break trust, so you need to work hard to rebuild it.
But even when you’ve built and rebuilt trust, it isn’t a once and done thing. You need to keep working on trust building so your relationship can thrive.
So how? What’s the secret? Well, implementing trust building exercises for couples is a great place to start so you and your partner can face life together.
What Are Trust Building Exercises?
Trust building exercises are activities and games that people do to help them learn more about their partners, teammates, or colleagues. With these activities, you know your partner better, understand them better, and have more empathy with them. Knowledge and empathy give you greater insight into the decisions people make.
When you know your partner this well, you will trust them implicitly.
Trust building activities are often associated with team building and corporate workshops. Students and colleagues benefit from greater trust development, and so too can romantic couples.
Benefits of Trust Building Exercises for Couples
Studies into trust building found that the better you know your partner, the better you will trust them.
Benefits of building trust for couples include:
A lack of trust increases anxiety, depression, loneliness, negativity, and fear as you don’t know where you stand with your partner and face the world alone.
15 Best Trust Building Exercises for Couples
Trust is fragile, and you can easily destroy the trust someone has placed in you with a misjudged action, thoughtless behavior, and a careless word. Lasting trust can only be sustained when both you and your partner consistently work to build trust.
You need time, constant effort, and patience to continuously build trust.
1. Soul Gaze
A great way to incorporate trust building exercises for couples is to soul gaze. It’s a practice where you and your partner gaze into each other’s eyes to deeply connect.
By looking into the “windows of the souls” – aka eyes – you can see your partner’s soul as you open your energy and connect in an intimate way.
When you make eye contact or soul gaze, it triggers the limbic mirror system in your brain, which gives you greater understanding of your loved one’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings. As a result, trust is built as you see your partner and via understanding and empathy.
As an essential aspect for verbal and non-verbal communication, soul gazing fosters intimacy, connection, and engagement, which are critical trust elements.
Steps to Soul Gazing:
- Find a space in your home that’s comfortable and distraction free. So, turn off your phones or mute notifications.
- Sit opposite your partner but remain close. It’s best if your knees touch or are close together.
- Decide on how long you want to soul gaze for. You may want to start with a short period such as a minute or two; maintaining eye contact may make you feel uncomfortable as it breaks down barriers and shows your vulnerable side. As you get more comfortable with letting your partner really see you, increase how long you soul gaze for.
- Set the timer.
- Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths.
- When you are ready (don’t take too long), open your eyes and maintain eye contact with your partner. Don’t talk. Just look into their eyes.
- You can sit quietly for a minute or so and just look and see, and thereafter, you can complement your partner and chat softly to build emotional intimacy. Or you can remain silent, and just gaze while soft music plays in the background.
- Soul gaze until the timer goes off.
- Chat about how you feel and consider whether you feel a deeper connection with each other.
2. Cuddle for 15-20 Minutes
Feeling safe and comfortable with your person boosts trust. When you hug and cuddle, your body releases oxytocin, also known as the feel-good hormone or cuddle hormone. The warm fuzzy feeling improves bonding, connection, and trust, as well as your sense of being wanted and loved.
Steps to Cuddle:
- Find a quiet and safe space where you can cuddle with your partner. It should be uninterrupted time, so again, make sure there are no distractions.
- For 15-20 minutes, get physical with your loved one. But remember, this cuddling trust building exercise shouldn’t lead to sex. It’s mostly hugging, gently massaging and touching, kissing, snuggling, and enjoying physical touch in a non-erotic way.
- When you are snuggling with your partner, think about how you feel and the feelings of connection, bonding, safety, and trust that the cuddling session produces.
- When the 15-20 minutes are up, thank your partner for cuddling with you.
3. Talk about Trust
Open and clear communication is an important foundation for a lasting, happy, and healthy relationship. So, to build or rebuild trust, you’ve got to talk about it.
Ask your loved one questions about trust – what it means to them, what their expectations are, and more – to see where you and their values and expectations regarding trust align. Discover where it diverges and where you can compromise so you’re on the same page.
Steps to Take When Talking about Trust:
- Find a time when you and your partner are alone and can spend some quality time together.
- Talk about what trust means to you both. You don’t need to have a big, lengthy trust conversation all at once; break it up into bite-sized chunks for when the time arises to chat. Start by asking and elaborating on the following questions, and then see where the convo leads:
- Share your views, thoughts, and expectations with your partner.
- After the conversation about trust, take a few days to reflect, and reserve the option to revisit the chat to clarify or discuss further.
4. Ask Your Partner to Help You with Something Small
In a relationship, your partner needs to be trustworthy. You need to feel safe and know that if you ask them to do something small or big for you, they will deliver and be there for you.
So, when you are just starting to trust your loved one or if your partner needs to re-earn your trust, start by asking them to help you with something small. With each little “test” of trust, all the little stones of trust have an opportunity to become a mountain of trust.
This trust building activity for couples works because actions speak louder than words. A 2013 study found that you are more likely to trust your partner when they prioritize you and your relationship over their self-interests.
Steps to Asking Your Partner to Help You:
- Choose a small request you can ask your partner. It can be asking them to get you something like milk or cookies or pickles from the grocery store. Or it could be getting pizza for dinner or choosing an anniversary card for your parents.
- Ask your partner to help with the chosen task.
- If they deliver, slowly start trusting them, and when they don’t, chat about your relationship, trust, and expectations.
- Rinse and repeat to continue building trust.
5. Share a Secret
You don’t share secrets and personal information with strangers and people you don’t trust. And that is why this is a good trust building exercise. You and your partner both need to share so you can jointly earn trust, connect, foster emotional intimacy, and strengthen your relationship.
It’s your honesty and vulnerability when you share a scary secret that bonds you with your loved one.
Steps to Sharing a Secret:
- Think of a scary secret you can share with your partner. It should be something they don’t know about you, and it can also be something you haven’t shared with another person.
- When it’s just you and your partner and they are focused on you, chat about a related topic and share your secret.
- When your partner mindfully listens (more on this in a bit) and reacts with empathy, you’ll feel close to them and will start trusting them more.
- It’s great if your partner shares a secret too, and this furthers trust between you two.
- Ask emotional intimate questions while creating a safe space so your partner can open up and be vulnerable. Ask questions you haven’t asked before. It can be about your partner’s childhood, general past, or anything.
- As your partner shares and returns the questions and you share, trust will grow as you share “secrets” in a safe and more subtle manner than just blurting out a secret.
6. Make a Vision Board Together
Working on a fun project like making a vision board lets you envision your future while you think about the present. You can talk about what you want more of in your relationship while you visualize it with your loved one, and you can also discuss what you want less of.
Openly sharing your feelings and thoughts helps you build trust, as your partner will also share. The vision board acts as an intermediary, so you are just sharing and talking as you work on a fun project instead of sitting and facing each other and more directly talking about successes and challenges.
Steps to Creating a Vision Board Together:
- You and your partner should get the supplies needed to create your vision board. Make this a tangible project rather than creating a digital vision board using Canva or a similar platform.
General supplies you need are:
- Talk about a theme for your vision board and start finding images, words, etc. you can use to decorate the board with.
- As you start putting your vision board together, talk about what a word, phrase, quote, or image means and represents to you.
- Your partner should also share. Remember to giggle and have fun.
- Once the vision board is complete, place it somewhere in your home where you can both see it.
- Every now and again, reflect on the board and what you shared with your loved one.
7. Connect with Each Other and Build Intimacy
Building intimacy is a great way to earn and build trust for couples. Remember, intimacy doesn’t just refer to what you do between the sheets; it’s also fostering emotional, intellectual, experiential, creative, and spiritual connections with each other.
When you are authentically you, you are honest, open, and vulnerable, and when your loved one is more accepting of everything that makes you imperfectly you, you strengthen your bond.
Steps to Building Intimacy and Connecting with Each Other:
(Option 1: Building Emotional Intimacy)
- Choose a time and space when it’s just you and your partner.
- Prepare or find some emotional intimacy questions online to ask them. These should be open-ended questions, so you can have a discussion about the answer when the opportunity presents itself.
- Choose three to five questions.
- Ask and discuss so you can feel more connected and closer to each other.
(Option 2: Building Spiritual Intimacy)
- You should know the basics of what your partner believes in, and if you don’t know or don’t quite understand, use this opportunity to learn more about them in an open, accepting, and non-judgmental way.
- Using discussion topics such as family, death, life, love, and trust, you can both share how you view these topics based on your own spirituality. Remember to listen with open minds and hearts and not form judgment – it’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about sharing, respecting, and trusting.
- Foster your spiritual connection with each other by practicing kindness, love, mindfulness, and good communication.
8. Do Blindfolded Challenges
When you are blindfolded, you need to use your other senses to find your way. If you are lucky, you have someone to help you navigate. So, when blindfolded, you are emotionally and physically vulnerable. And you need to rely on and trust yourself, but you also need to trust your partner to help you “see.”
To help build trust, blindfold your partner and help them complete the activity or challenge. Then trade places, so you can experience what your partner did, which helps earn trust.
Steps to Doing Blindfold Challenges:
There are various blindfolded challenges like the taste test, trust fall, and obstacle course you can do with your partner. So, choose one, set up, and do. You can choose another of these activities for next time, and technically, the more you trust each other, the better you should fare.
- Blindfold your partner.
- Stand between 5 and 7 feet behind your partner with their back facing you.
- Your partner needs to cross their arms over their chest.
- You extend your arms, ready to catch them.
- Your partner falls backwards, without bending their knees, trusting you won’t let them hit the ground.
- You catch them.
- It’s your turn to put the blindfold on and fall, trusting your partner to catch you.
- Prepare some food. You can have a slice of apple, cucumber, mango, a julienned carrot, a block of chocolate, and whatever else you can think of.
- Put the food on a plate with a cloche or tea towel.
- Blindfold your partner.
- Take off the cloche and let your partner taste the food. They trust that you aren’t putting anything that’s harmful or yucky on the plate for them to eat.
9. Schedule a Date Night (or two) and Take Turns Planning It
Another trust activity you can do with your partner is to plan a date night, and then switch with your loved one being in the driver seat and planning the date night. Scheduling date nights helps build trust since you are both actively invested to spend time together.
Plus, if your partner is planning, you trust that they’ll choose something that you’ll both love.
Steps to Planning a Date Night:
- If it’s your turn to plan, chat with your partner so you can figure out what day is best. Hire a dog or babysitter so it’s just the two of you and to minimize distractions.
- Commit to the day and time of the date night.
- Think of an idea for the date. What will you both enjoy?
- Plan and get everything ready. Buy the tickets. Make sure there’s gas in the car. Consider your outfit.
- Go on the date and have loads of extra fun as you spend quality time together, just you and your loved one.
10. Do Acroyoga
Acroyoga is a combo of acrobatics and yoga. You need a partner for this type of exercise as you are moving with another person. Acroyoga helps raise body awareness since you need to be fine-tuned to your loved one’s movements as you build strength, balance, flexibility, and trust.
Plus, this exercise relies on good communication, connection, and attention on your partner. So, if you are starting to build trust, start out slow with beginner acroyoga moves.
Steps to Doing Acroyoga:
- Find an acroyoga class near you, or if you strike out, sign up for an online or virtual class.
- You can take turns being the base (the person who's in contact with the ground) and the flyer (the person who is lifted). In a class, there will be a third person who will be your spotter.
- Follow the instructor as you acroyoga with your partner and remember to have fun during this intimacy and trust building exercise.
11. Try a New Hobby
New experiences push you out of your comfort zone and foster experiential intimacy, which furthers trust between a couple. The hobby should be new to both of you. Both of you should be interested in doing it for the best trust building results.
Steps to Trying a New Hobby – Together:
- Find something you and your loved one have not yet done but always wanted to do. Or you can take turns deciding on new activities for you to try. Some hobby ideas:
- Rock climbing
- Forest bathing
- Mixology classes
- Laser tag
- Find a time that suits you both and pursue the activity. If you enjoy it, make it a regular habit so you can spend quality time together.
12. Relinquish Control
Relinquishing control helps you build trust because you are putting the other person in the driver’s seat and relying on them. If you are reliable and consistent when you are in the power seat, you show your partner that they can trust you.
Steps to Relinquishing Control:
- Choose an activity where you can relinquish control. This is similar to the blindfolded activity, but here, you relinquish control over other aspects of your life. Let your partner be in charge of the week’s finances, engage in some submissive sexual activities, or let them plan the family vacation down to the finest of details.
- Do the chosen activity where you give power to your loved one.
- Reflect on what went well and what didn’t (and remember, your partner is just human).
- Take turns, so now you can have control while your partner relinquishes it.
13. Schedule Sexual Intimacy
Sex and physical intimacy is an essential component to a healthy relationship – provided both partners are interested and able to have sex. Career-driven couples tend to have less sex, especially when kids enter the picture, and life gets busy.
Foster sexual connection with your partner so you can remember the love and trust that comes with sexual intimacy.
Steps to Scheduling and Succeeding at Sexual Intimacy:
- Choose a day to commit to making time for physical intimacy with each other.
- Start your morning with a hug and a slow kiss, and slowly build up sexual energy like you would if you engage in tantric sex.
- Send your partner sexy comments and compliments during the day, and suggestively look at and touch them.
- After dinner (and when the kids are in bed), continue the foreplay while you watch a movie or get ready for bed. Whether you have sex or not isn’t the purpose – build trust and physical intimacy. Focus less on physical gratification but rather on a soul connection as you explore and learn to feel safe with each other’s vulnerability.
14. Practice Active or Mindful Listening
Have you ever chatted to your partner and felt like they weren’t listening to you? Thinking of a reply or responding on autopilot breaks trust as you don’t feel heard or seen.
Practice mindful and attentive listening to build and rebuild trust in active ways. When you engage in self-aware communications, you hear the words the person speaks and you also try to understand the meaning and intent, making you an active participant in the conversation.
With listening comes empathy from your partner as they understand where you are coming from.
Steps to Practicing Mindful or Active Listening:
- There are various techniques you and your partner can practice for mindful and active listening. Try:
- To be fully present in the conversation, with your attention focused on your partner.
- Making eye contact (in a non-creepy way) to show interest.
- Using and noticing body language and non-verbal cues to help you understand the intent and meaning behind what your partner is saying.
- Asking questions that are open-ended to show interest and encourage more conversation.
- To not judge or give unsolicited advice.
- Master these techniques while your partner talks, and expand, including more mindful listening techniques.
- Check with your partner if they feel heard and seen and what else you can do to make them feel valued and further gain their trust.
- Take turns evaluating feelings so you can increase trust on both sides.
15. Take a Survival Course Together
To understand the amount of trust you have in your partner, take a survival course together. Survival courses are “crash courses” in how to survive outdoors without a lot of tools. You learn life-saving skills but require the help of your partner to survive without getting hurt.
Steps to Survive Together:
- Find a survival course you like, such as U.S. school of survival’s courses.
- Prepare for the requirements of the course, planning what you want from the course, and the goals of trust you want while being a survivalist.
Final Thoughts on Trust Building Exercises for Couples
Since trust is an essential aspect of healthy and long-lasting relationships, it is something you and your loved one should continuously work on. You are both human and it’s easy to break someone’s trust in you… but persevere, show up, and continue rebuilding trust.
During challenging times, it’s not easy to trust others or yourself. You can use these trust affirmations to get you through and clear your head. Trust is the cornerstone of every relationship – whether romantic, plutonic, or professional. Without it, everything else crumbles and rebuilding can be a long and draining process.