How to build lasting trust in friendship

Published February 25, 2023
Illustration by Sumbul
Illustration by Sumbul

Friendship has the power to make us feel connected, secure and supported. Whether it’s a childhood friend, or a school/college friend, a work colleague, or a new acquaintance, forming friendships is a key part of our lives. But how do we create strong, lasting friendships?

In my opinion, it all starts with building trust. Trust is the foundation of any successful friendship, or relationship, and it requires both the persons to be willing to invest in the relationship. It is an attribute that is hard to gain, but easy to lose. Having trust in a relationship means that you and your friend are being honest, reliable and open to communication with each other.

It also requires being willing to forgive and accept mistakes, and to be understanding and supportive of each other in times of need. When trust is established in any relationship, it flourishes and provides a safe space to both persons to share freely and openly, without being judgemental. Through this openness and honesty, both friends can build a stronger understanding and appreciation of each other.

What is trust?

Trust is a fundamental element of any relationship, and it’s essential for building strong relationships. It is the belief that the other person will be honest and reliable, and that he/she will respect your interests at heart. When you trust someone, you feel safe and confident in their presence, and you know that you can rely on them in times of need. It’s important to note that trust is not something that can be taken for granted. It must be earned over time, through consistent and honest communication.

Trust is also an important component of self-esteem. When we trust ourselves and our decisions, we are more likely to take risks and pursue our dreams. Trusting ourselves also allows us to be more open and more confident with those around us and in return, we gain others’ confidence in us.

The benefits of building lasting trust

When you trust someone, you know that you will have their back in difficult times, and you can be sure that they are being honest and reliable. This level of support can be incredibly valuable in times of hardship and it can provide a sense of security and reassurance. But keep in mind that trust is built in the long term, it is not a one-day story.

Have you noticed your mum or your dad telling you that they are having a meet-up with their college or school friends? Well kids, it is the trust in friendship that made their bond/relationship stronger, which made it possible for their years’ old friendship to sail smoothly even to this day.

So, let’s follow some steps to build lasting friendships, based on trust.

Be honest and reliable

Honesty is the foundation of trust. It’s important to be truthful and consistent in your words and actions, and to be open and willing to communicate about difficult topics. No matter what happens or how much it costs you, you must maintain honesty.

If you or your friend does something wrong to one another, or some bad feelings have developed between you two, try to clear things up immediately. Make sure that you do not hate the person for their deed, you actually dislike the deed. So be honest in giving your opinion. Let your friend know that you are a trustworthy person and you want to clear things up and not create a drama.

However, if you are at fault, it will be embarrassing for you to express your fault. But remember, true friendship needs honesty. Therefore, express and explain yourself if he/she wants you to, otherwise a simple apology may work.

Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

Forgive and move on after a mistake

Mistakes are inevitable in any relationship, and it’s important to be willing to forgive and accept them. This requires letting go of anger and resentment, and being willing to move forward in the relationship. Either you may be at fault or your friend, just let it go.

But if you can’t, then explain and resolve the matter. However, keep in mind that while you may immediately be ready to accept your fault, your friend will likely have bad feelings towards you, and will need time to get over it and return to normal. Everyone needs space and time to think and process things. Give a little time for emotions to cool down, for the feeling of hurt or anger to subside, then better sense will prevail.

However, it’s important to remember that mistakes can be learning opportunities. You can avoid them next time and be more careful in maintaining a healthy relationship. Once the mistake has been discussed, it’s important to talk about how to move forward. This could involve making a commitment to be more honest and reliable, or to be more understanding and supportive. It could also involve setting boundaries, or taking steps to make up for the mistake.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say!

Don’t say things that you are not sure about. It will only detach your friend and weaken your image; you will be considered someone with no dignity of keeping their words or someone who doesn’t mean what they say.

Listen and be supportive

Listening is an important part of communication. Active listening involves paying attention to the other person, understanding their point of view, and providing feedback that shows you’ve heard and understood them. And if you think your friend needs your support or help, don’t hesitate.

For instance, your friend needs some notes or stationary item, but feels embarrassed asking for help, thinking that he/she might be expecting a lot, or it might bother you. In such a situation, always consider the nature of your friend, help and support them before they feel the need to ask you. Let your friend know that they are more important in your life than material things.

However, sometimes, there are things that are not in your capacity to help out. At that time, moral support is the key to building a strong relationship and gaining trust. Let your friend know that you are always there to help them out, even when it’s not in your capacity.

Be appreciative

Appreciation is a key part of any friendship. It can involve something as simple as saying thank you, or taking the time to appreciate the little things your friend does for you. Or when they are doing well in studies, or whatever achievements they tell you about, just appreciate their actions and encourage them.

One of the ways to show appreciation to your friend is supporting their goals and ideas, and encouraging them. Your friend will notice your positive feedback and gradually build a strong trust in you.

Avoid criticism

Criticism is good as long as it is constructive, positive and boosts one’s confidence to move forward, not something which discourages and pulls one down. A healthy friendship should involve supportive feedback and constructive criticism. Unhealthy friendships often involve constant criticism, which ruin any relationship in no time. Remember no one wants a friend who is always criticising, always picking out things to demotivate and discourage them.

Be open

Open communication is important for building strong trust in friendship. It helps prevent misunderstandings and conflicts; it also makes it easier to resolve any complex issues that arise.

Being open to your friend means being honest about your thoughts and feelings, and being willing to confront difficult and sensitive topics. It also involves being willing to listen to the other person’s perspective, and all this while being more understanding and supportive.

Keep a secret, secret

Many people don’t keep their friends’ personal stuff to themselves. Instead, they tell everyone. Remember, your friend has trusted you while telling you something. How would you feel if you heard others discussing your matters which you had only told your friend? Won’t you feel deceived and betrayed? Right, so learn to keep things to yourself. This is also the basis of maintaining trust and keeping the friendship stronger.

Remember kids, trust is the foundation of any strong friendship. Without trust, a friendship can easily crumble and fall apart. Building trust in friendship is a process that takes time and effort. It not only requires both persons to be open and honest with each other, but also to be supportive and dependable. This means being there for each other when times are tough, and being able to rely on one another when needed. It also means being supportive and encouraging of each other’s goals and ambitions.

Building trust takes time, sometime longer than you may have expected, but it is worth it in the end.

Published in Dawn, Young World, February 25th, 2023

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