The science of trust: 12 important factors that build strong, lasting relationships

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Unfortunately, we often don’t appreciate important people in our life until we lose them. 

Then we regret being stubborn or egoistic, realizing that we fought over petty things and could’ve done so much better to keep the relationship going.

Love is amazing—but it can also be tough. 

In this article, we’re breaking down the science of trust: 12 important factors that build strong, lasting relationships you’ve always wanted.

1) You respect each other

Do you know what the foundation of relationships is? In my opinion, it’s not love.

It’s respect

Love, trust, security, healthy communication—none of these can exist if you don’t actually respect your partner!

You need to show appreciation and respect for your own and your partner’s needs for a functional relationship.

If there’s no consideration of each other’s boundaries, you are doomed. The relationship will inevitably become toxic and unhealthy. 

2) You can be your true self in the relationship 

You can’t foster true intimacy if you’re constantly pretending to be someone you’re not. If you want to have a strong, lasting relationship, you both need to reveal the depth of your personality to each other.

A loving, healthy relationship is where people feel close and comfortable with one another. 

They create—and maintain!—a safe space that allows them to be vulnerable and imperfect. 

After all, if you can’t be yourself with your partner, can you really call them your other half?

3) You make honesty a priority

If you don’t need to pretend in the relationship, you also don’t need to lie.

We all know honesty is a requirement in any good relationship

But let’s take it a step further: a truly great relationship is one where you don’t hesitate to be honest with one another.

By that, I mean that even if the truth is harsh, you know you will tell it to your partner, and you’re not afraid of their reaction. 

Yes, you might need to tell them something unpleasant, but telling the truth is something you cultivate in your relationship, no matter what.

This is how you can say you truly feel safe in the relationship!

Think about it: if you fear or are unable to talk with your partner about difficult stuff, it might be a sign of other underlying problems.

4) You’re gentle to each other

Now, don’t get me wrong. Being honest and being harsh are two different things.

Telling the truth to your partner or discussing difficult topics does not mean you should not be kind and loving about it.

If anything, these are actually the times when you need to be especially gentle.

You cannot claim to love someone if you’re not kind to them. Only through kindness can you foster a warm, loving soulfulness to the relationship.

Start here: never raise your voice at your partner. Even if you’re arguing, even in the heat of the moment, speak to your partner softly and lovingly.

Remember that it’s never a you vs. them thing. It’s the both of you vs. the problem.

5) They’re a hundred percent loyal and so are you

Speaking of honesty…

Honesty begets loyalty.

Staying loyal isn’t just about the physical side of things.

It’s also about:

  • Resisting fantasies about a friend you find attractive;

  • Not texting back your ex who’s trying to flirt with you again;

  • Not seeking out hot pictures of other people on the internet.

Love and loyalty are a choice—physical, mental, and emotional. And it’s a choice you need to make every single day.

6) You’re equals

Of course, different individuals will have different strengths and affinities. Therefore, you may have different roles in the relationship.

Some couples prefer traditional roles, and others create their roles depending on their personalities, likes, and needs.

But there should never be a power imbalance! 

If one person holds more decision-making power and influence in the relationship, it will always be lopsided, fostering resentment and entitlement.

A strong relationship is a balanced one—because a lack of balance always leads to things falling, no?

7) You work together as a team

And because you see each other as equals, you strive to work together as a team.

After all, love is not just an emotion. It’s also an action—an action that you need to keep performing.

This is actually one of the best ways to form deep connections. When you work together and support each other to reach your goals, you will inevitably feel closer to your partner.

This includes being able and willing to take on different roles as the situation calls.

Sometimes, you need to be a silent shoulder to cry on. Other times, you can offer to be your partner’s chaperone during crucial yet stressful moments of their career.

Remember: the strongest couples aren’t just lovers. They’re partners.

8) You love with intention and initiative

Love is an action. 

Read that again.

And it is performed with intention and initiative.

Active love is the best kind of love. It does not simply sit back and revel in the affection. 

Why? Because it knows that it must be maintained or else it will fade as all things do.

So go on and put in the effort! Never, ever take your partner for granted.

Always be on the lookout for what you can do to make them happy and show how much you value them.

9) You prioritize thoughtfulness

And how exactly do you love actively? Simple, you’re mindful—thoughtful.

You always keep in mind what your partner needs and wants in any given situation. Then, you strive to meet them as best as you can. And they do the same for you.

“But I can’t read my partner’s mind!”

That’s true. 

But if you’ve been together long enough, you should’ve been attentive and got to know them already. It’s part of being mindful.

And if you haven’t? Ask them and start prioritizing thoughtfulness now!

10) You foster happiness

Why are you even in a relationship if your goal isn’t to be happy with one another?

A strong, healthy couple always finds ways to make each other happy, both in big and small ways.

At the same time, you cannot be completely dependent on your partner for your own happiness.

You need to be able to maintain your individuality and a healthy sense of self. Pursue happiness in other things in your life too.

Then you’ll actually be in a better position to love each other more completely.

11) You’re best friends

I mean, there’s a reason why it’s called boyfriend and girlfriend, right?

If you’re not your partner’s best friend, then you’re likely doing something wrong. 

Romance without friendship is shallow, fleeing, and frail.

Just like respect, friendship is the bedrock of everything else in the relationship.

Without it, there is no intimacy, affection, and joy.

12) You validate each other

When you validate each other, you foster a nourishing space for the relationship. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should agree with every single thing they say. As said, sometimes, we need to tell each other the truth, even if it’s a harsh one.

But you do need to understand how their mind and emotions work. You need to make them feel completely seen and heard—this is what validation means.

You must make it clear to your partner that you understand where they’re coming from and that you’re on their side. Only then can they feel that you have their back.

How to keep the flame burning

Love is easy in the beginning. 

After the honeymoon period lies the true test of love—but also its true reward.

Here’s how to keep the flame burning bright:

  • Try new things: new bedroom experiences, travel to different places, do various activities;

  • Ask each other about their day—and listen!

  • Constantly ask how you can both love each other better;

  • Have regular sex;

  • Cultivate individual hobbies and spend some time apart: distance makes the heart grow fonder!

  • Always listen attentively and wholeheartedly;

  • Never stop expressing affection (kissing, cuddling);

  • Don’t neglect the relationship and overprioritize other aspects of your life (like your career).

The pillars of a strong, healthy, loving relationship

Love is not something that just exists on its own. It’s held up by values and active efforts to uphold those values.

  • Respect: You can’t love someone without respecting them. Respect each other’s needs, boundaries, and desires in the relationship.

  • Communication: Are you tired of hearing “communication is key!” yet? Well, here’s one last reminder: (Honest, open, heartful) COMMUNICATION IS KEY!

  • Trust: Why would you be in a relationship with someone you don’t trust? Show them that you trust them and also show them that you’re trustworthy. Only then can real intimacy and vulnerability be established.

  • Kindness: “Love is patient, love is kind.” I’m not exactly religious, but that line from the Bible says it all succinctly and powerfully.

Loving with respect, communication, trust, and kindness is the only true way to love.

In conclusion

Love is amazing. Sometimes, it’s so amazing that relationship issues blindside us.

If you really love your partner and value the relationship, I highly suggest taking a step back and evaluating it, taking note of what you can do better, and acting on it with passion and intent.

In short, the message of this article is simple: love that is hands-on is the best kind of love!

Anna Dovbysh

With 8 years of writing experience and a deep interest in psychology, relationship advice, and spirituality, Anna’s here to shine a light on the most interesting self-development topics and share some life advice. She's got a Master's Degree in International Information and is a life-long learner of writing and storytelling. In the past, she worked on a radio station and a TV channel as a journalist and even tought English in Cambodia to local kids. Currently, she's freelancing and traveling around the globe, exploring new places, and getting inspired by the people she meets and the stories they tell. Subscribe to her posts and get in touch with her on her social media:
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