A Trustworthy Partner

  • Published
  • By By Jaclyn Urmey, LCSW
  • 514 Air Moblility Wing director of psychological health
Bonds in romantic relationships are very important for a variety of reasons, but two of the most important are trust and reliance. Without them, bonds can be weak or worse: the relationship can be unequally balanced, with expectations of one partner not being met by the other partner. This can lead to disappointment, and, if unresolved, eventually the dissolution of the relationship.

So let’s break down trust and reliance. Trust is the belief you have in someone based on your mental picture of them. This picture is comprised of what you know about the person, how they act around you, how they act when they are not around you, etc. Also referred to as a trust-picture, your opinion of someone is enhanced by this knowledge. Reliance is trust in action or how someone meets your needs. The more you rely on someone you do not trust, the more at risk you are for disappointment. This is how expectations can lead to disappointments. Building trust and investing reliance over time are ways to strengthen bonds in relationships.

How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk (or Jerkette), by John Van Epp has created a list of characteristics of a trustworthy partner. Check it out to see how you and/or your partner are doing:

1. Maturity. This describes someone who is well-rounded. How would you define a mature person?
2. Adaptable. This means someone who has good coping skills. What are some important coping skills for a long-term relationship?
3. Relationship skills. What are some important relationship skills for marriage?
4. Responsible. This refers to a person’s work ethic. How would you detect an irresponsible person?
5. Inner confidence. This describes a person who has relatively good self-esteem. How can you tell if someone has inner confidence, or is insecure?
6. Anger management. Handling anger well is very important in a healthy marriage. What are some ways to tell if someone handles their anger in healthy ways?
7. Gracious. This refers to someone who is able to share, forgive, let others go first, and overlook shortcomings. What does this look like in your relationship?
8. Emotionally stable. This describes an overall measure of emotional healthiness, including being fairly balanced in regards to mood. Emotional problems can present challenges to a long-term relationship and should be addressed before committing to anything serious.

Relationships can always be strengthened if both individuals take the time to reflect on the relationship and are fair about their expectations of each other. A good way to figure out if you and your partner are seeing eye-to-eye is for each of you to make a list of the top 3 things you expect from yourself as a partner, and the top 3 things you expect from your partner. Then, sit down together and review your lists to see if you both know what is expected, and to decide together if those expectations are realistic. For instance, partner A expects partner B to listen every day while partner A complains about work, but partner B never does, resulting in partner A feeling disappointed; after reviewing this expectation, partner B didn’t know partner A expected this, so partner B now listens. Or partner B feels it’s unrealistic to listen to partner A complain about work every day, so a compromise will have to be made that is more realistic for both partners.

The only ones who can make or break a relationship are those in the relationship, so take care and time to assess for who is worth getting into a relationship with. If you’re already in one, take care and time to assess where improvements can be made, so you can both be the best partners for each other that you can be.