I think we can all agree that trust is an essential and foundational part of every relationship. There is no point in being with someone you don't trust. Sounds simple enough, right? But here's where it gets complicated. While you don’t want to be with someone who has shown themselves to be untrustworthy, there is going to be some time when you're with someone new where you don’t trust them yet, simply because they haven’t earned it. But how long does it take to trust someone new? How long should you be willing to stay in this grey area? A week? A month? Six months? Are there any rules about this timeline?
To get a better idea of how trust in a relationship is formed, and how long you can expect building it should take, I reached out to intimacy and sexuality coach Irene Fehr, who explained that first and foremost, every person and every relationship is different, so there isn't an exact timing. Instead of focusing on days and months when it comes to earning trust, you need to be thinking in terms of relationship milestones, because time alone is not enough to properly earn trust for new partners. Here's what Fehr says really matters.
1. When Things Get Hard
When you think about building trust with someone, you typically see it through a positive lens, like someone having your back or being there when you need them. This does help to build trust, but, according to Fehr, it’s actually in the harder and more challenging moments that trust is really formed.
“In a new relationship, you're usually doing fun things together like travel — all of which makes for great connection and getting to know each other,” Fehr tells Elite Daily. “But you don't really know if you can trust someone until things get hard: plans change, feelings get hurt, regrettable actions happen, you ask for what you really want.” In order to truly trust someone, you have to know who they become when things aren’t perfectly rosy and what you can expect from them.
“Only when you see them at their worst — and you see how they are with you at your worst — can you really begin to trust someone,” Fehr says. So, depending on how long it takes for you to also open up and be willing to be vulnerable with them, this will be a big factor in how long it takes to form the trust bond.
2. When They’ve Put In The Work To Earn Your Trust
It really is true that trust has to be earned. Even if you are someone who with an open heart and you consider yourself to be a trusting person, there will be some part of you that you won’t be able to open up fully until the other person has put in the time and has done the work. What that means, explains Fehr, is being reliable. They will earn your trust when “your partner delivers on what they say they will do or who they say they are," she says. "That they show up when they say they do both in action (literally showing up on time when they said they would) and emotionally. For example: They are kind, they listen well, they support you as they said they would.”
It’s also about feeling safe to be open with them because you’ve come to know how they will respond to your vulnerability. “When your partner is able to receive you without guilt-tripping, shaming, dismissing, contempt, blaming or stone-walling," Fehr explains, is when they have earned your trust.
3. When You’re Ready
Ultimately, it really all comes down to when you are ready and feel safe to put your trust in them. If that takes a while, that’s OK. As Fehr explains, it’s essential to trust at your own speed and for the right reasons.
“Don't trust someone just because you want to have a relationship with them," she cautions. "We often trust people because we want something from them, and in the process, we end up ignoring yellow or red flags that tell us something about their trustworthiness.”
So, when it comes to being the “right time” to trust, there is no need to rush. Take things at their own pace, trust your heart, keep your eye on how they treat you, and then just let it happen naturally, says Fehr.
“Quite simply, trust takes time. A lot of time. Especially in situations where your new [or] potential partner feels like a dream come true, it's easy to give them credit and think the best of them," she says. "However, it takes conflicts and disagreements to see how people really show up. Don't trust until they've earned your trust.” It takes as long as it takes.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!