Embracing vulnerability: 14 ways to build deeper connections and trust in relationships

Trust is paramount when it comes to your relationships.

What is the key to building trust?

The answer is by building deeper connections.

Doing so means you can establish healthy relationships, whether that’s with your partner, friend, family or colleague.

These are 14 ways to build deeper connections and trust in relationships.

1) Openly communicate your feelings

Open communication is one of the best ways to build deeper connections and trust in your relationships.

A lack of communication can cause misunderstandings and confusion, as you’re left unsure of someone’s intentions and vice versa.

What may end up happening is that you or your connections make assumptions to fill in that gap of communication.

To avoid this, try to be more open with your feelings. If you have any concerns or feel disrespected, it’s best to be honest rather than hide your feelings.

Open communication is not just about expressing how you feel.

Effective communication also means to …

2) Practice active listening

Active listening can help you understand someone else’s perspective. So, rather than listening for the sake of responding, you’re listening to understand.

Actively listening to your loved one shows that you care about their opinion. You want to understand why they feel the way they do, even if you disagree.

How do you practice active listening?

Be patient with your partner, friend, family, colleague, or whoever is talking. Try to resist butting in when they’re speaking and listen to them fully.

Also, try to remain neutral and avoid criticizing, judging or belittling them for their thoughts.

Another effective way to communicate is to ….

3) Be open and honest

Being open and honest means making yourself vulnerable to your connections. Doing this is crucial to deepen your relationships and build trust. Why?

It’s easier to feel closer to someone who is open and honest with you.

Think of people we don’t know, like celebrities, who share every bit of their lives. It can feel like we know them, even when we don’t.

Well, the same goes for our connections.

Open and honest people feel authentic, and you’re more inclined to trust someone who consistently practices these two things.

Openness and honesty are especially paramount in relationships.

Research shows that a lack of openness can lead to behaviours like ‘snooping’. This is when someone checks their partner’s phone and snoops through their belongings.

4) Allow yourself to be vulnerable

Following on from my previous point. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can help deepen your connections and build trust.

Opening yourself up to vulnerability shows your connections that you trust them enough to open up. Most people don’t open up to just anyone, so being vulnerable shows them that you value them.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable by sharing personal stories and opening up about your insecurities, struggles and past pain.

Doing so can encourage your connections to open up to you and further build your trust.

5) Show empathy and understanding

Opening up and being vulnerable is no easy task. But showing empathy and understanding when someone is willing to be vulnerable with you helps tremendously.

Showing empathy and understanding is also a part of active listening.

When you can empathize and understand, you demonstrate that you genuinely care about that person’s opinion. This makes them feel heard, closing the distance between you and deepening your bond.

To show empathy and understanding, try to see things from that person’s perspective and relate to their experiences.

6) Provide emotional support

It also helps to provide emotional support to the other party so they know you’re there for them.

Unfortunately, life can’t be a ray of sunshine all the time. Wouldn’t that be great?

But since life doesn’t work that way, there will be times when your partner, friend, or colleague, for instance, is hurt or upset. It’s in those moments that they’ll need someone to lean on.

If you’re someone they can lean on, they will know they can trust and depend on you.

A few things you can do to provide emotional support are:

  • Listening to them without judgement
  • Checking in to see how they’re doing
  • Offering any further support and help

Even if you cannot do much, your connections will appreciate the support and listening ear.

7) Improve your bond by sharing experiences

There’s no better way to deepen your connections and trust in relationships than by sharing experiences.

Sharing experiences helps you intensify your bond and expand your conversations, as you’ll have more things to discuss.

To strengthen your relationships, you can:

  • Spend the weekend away,
  • Attend events (festivals, concerts etc.)
  • Go for lunch
  • Take on a mutual hobby or interest
  • Go on holiday

These are just some ideas you can use to help deepen your connections and cement your trust.

8) Be present and attentive

Spending quality time with someone is a great way to build deeper connections and trust. But make sure to be present and attentive when you’re with that person!

If you spend most of your time together looking down at your phone or talking to other people, how do you think that would make them feel?

They may wonder what the point of meeting was in the first place!

Being present and attentive shows that you value the time you’re spending together and are happy to be there.

Be present and attentive by giving eye contact, being responsive, and using open body language (arms uncrossed, leaning forward in conversation, nodding, smiling etc.) These are clear signs to your connections that you want to be around them.

9) Prioritize your relationships

To build deeper connections and trust in your relationships, you must put time and effort into building them.

Did you know that according to studies, it can take roughly 40 to 60 hours to make a casual friend and more than 200 hours for a casual friend to become good friends?

So, to build trust and stronger connections, you need to prioritize the relationships you want to develop.

As I mentioned earlier, having shared experiences are one of the best ways to do this. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Even something as simple as having a chat over coffee helps.

10) Show each other mutual respect

Trust and respect go hand in hand. You are more likely to respect someone you can trust and trust someone you respect.

It’s easier to be yourself around someone you respect and therefore, help close the gap in your relationships.

You can show your connections respect by treating them with kindness, being considerate and sticking to any commitments you make to them.

Showing each other mutual respect also means to …

11) Respect each other’s boundaries

A large part of building trust is respecting each other’s boundaries. This especially goes for your intimate relationships.

If you trust your partner, you will allow them to do things independently without you needing to be there. Whether that’s to spend time with their friends or family, work, or engage in their hobbies and interests.

But if you don’t trust them, you may break that boundary and sneak up on them, invading their privacy.

When you respect each other’s boundaries in your relationships, it shows your connections that you trust them.

12) Learn to forgive

As humans, we’ll inevitably all mess up at one point or another. Whether small or massive, your relationships will have conflicts (unless you’re lucky!)

When this happens, being open, honest and forgiving can help seal the cracks in your relationships.

Holding onto anger and resentment doesn’t help, as these emotions can blow up at any time. You may end up being passive-aggressive or starting arguments which can tarnish relationships and trust rather than help build it.

So, again, it can help to practice empathy and understanding, so you’re better able to understand that person’s perspective and their actions.

13) Take responsibility for your mistakes

That said, if you mess up, take responsibility for your mistakes!

It would be difficult for someone to forgive you if you have a book of excuses and pass the blame onto them.

So, when you’re in the wrong, be open about why you made that mistake. At least they’ll be able to understand your actions, even if it hurt them.

You can then come up with a plan of action and solution to help you move past the blip in your relationship.

14) Be consistent in your actions and behaviour

Much like Rome, trust can’t be built in a day. It takes time to build trust.

If you want to build trust and deepen your connections, that means staying true to your words and actions. Plus, staying consistent in your behaviour.

When you continuously show someone that you mean what you say, and your actions align with that, this helps to concrete your relationships and trust.

Though it takes a while to build, trust can also break at the snap of a finger. So be consistent, and keep an open line of communication to prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Final thoughts

As I said, building trust takes time, but making deeper connections is the key to trust.

Try communicating openly, spend quality time together and a lending ear when they need support.

 Consistently keep to your words, actions and commitments; you’ll benefit from healthy, positive and mutually happy relationships in the process.

Natalya Edwards

Natalya Edwards is a content writer with experience writing content on diverse topics, from entertainment and music to personal development and short stories. When she’s not typing away at the keyboard, she enjoys gaming, reading and watching Korean dramas.

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