Building trust in friendship

Confiance et amitié

Most people would agree that trust is an important part of their friendships.

But what does the word “trust” mean? And why is it important in a friendship?

Trust can mean something slightly or radically different to each of us. Being clear with your friends about what trust means to you can be the first step to building trust in those friendships. Think about the words you associate with trust:

  • Trustworthiness,
  • responsibility,
  • integrity,
  • honesty,
  • commitment

These are words that can help understand and clarify the meaning of trust for each of us.

Confiance et amitié

In friendships, as in all relationships, trust is one of the foundations of building. We need trust to build and deepen our friendships. Trust allows us to feel comfortable with our friends: comfortable making plans and comfortable sharing our lives. Trust requires that we keep our promises and show reliability, respect and honour.

In friendships, as in all relationships, failing to trust can be devastating. Betraying a friend’s trust, that is, sharing something they have entrusted to us, can undermine the trust of a friendship. This is just one example of how trust can be betrayed in a friendship, and we will explore this topic further in a future blog, including how to recover from a betrayal of trust in a friendship.

So how do you build a trustworthy friendship?

It is important to examine and understand what trust means to us and what it means to our friends. It is also important to show that we trust each other. We need to show each other that we can trust each other. For example, by matching our actions to our words.

Trust can be built and maintained in many different ways in a friendship.

In the beginning, when creating a friendship, here are a few ways to demonstrate trust:

  • Be trustworthy: answer calls and messages, be present, show up (more or less on time).
  • Be friendly: if someone changes or cancels their plans, we’ll contact each other to see if everything is okay.
  • Be fully present: Trust that you will listen with your full attention, put down your devices, avoid giving advice, and offer your presence. Today, this can be even more difficult with the technology that accompanies us when we spend time with friends. It can be helpful to “design” the environment so that we can listen to each other. This might include, for example, determining how you will use your devices, or whether you want to be listened to or receive advice.
  • Be considerate: communicate and respond with respect, empathy and kindness. Sharing too much intimate information about yourself in the beginning stages of a friendship can be overwhelming for both of you. This may be a good opportunity to talk about what we can do to build trust in the relationship.
  • Be reciprocal: give and take, mutually and reciprocally. For example, invite your friend to do something and trust them to invite us.
  • Confiance et amitié

    As we move forward in a friendship, here are some ways to show trust to maintain or deepen the friendship:

    • Show integrity: Show that we can trust the intimate and private information our friend shares with us. We show that we can trust the intimate and private information that our friend shares with us, and hope that our friend will not tell others. Discussing and being clear about our boundaries about what to share and what not to share is a way to take care of ourselves, but also to take care of the friendship and strengthen it.
    • Demonstrating interdependence: show that we will ask for help from each other. Trust each other and trust that you can ask for help when you feel scared, panicky or desperate. Asking for help and the help we can offer a friend are good topics to talk about with friends and can also strengthen friendships.

    Show commitment: connect and keep in touch with each other despite distance, space and gaps.

    “I don’t feel like Winnie today,” Winnie says.
    “There, there,” says Piggy. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you feel better.”
    ~ A.A. Milne, “Winnie the Pooh

    It takes effort, patience, and time to build trust in a friendship. Talking about what we can do to build or deepen trust in a friendship is a great way to strengthen the foundation of trust.

    Questions to ponder

    How can you build trust in your friendships?

    What does trust mean to you?

    What does it mean to your friends?

    When do you talk about what a friend has shared with you?

    When does it become gossip?

    When is it detrimental to a friendship?

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