trust issues

Seven Elements of Trust

Y'all know I'm a HUGE Brene' Brown fan.  Here's a helpful graphic for you all about identifying the elements of trust in your partnership.  If you want help building (or rebuilding) trust give me a call, I'm here for you!

Elements of Trust PDF Brene Brown Worksheet - Uncommon Love - 

Relationship Advice: How do I Regain Her Trust?

polyamory advice | open relationship advice | open marriage advice

Ask me anything is a relationship advice column written by Gina Senarighi, a couples therapist turned retreat leader who offers online support for non-traditional relationships of all flavors.  

Submit your Ask Me Anything question right here or read more Ask Me Anything here.


This week's question: 

"I've been in a relationship for nearly two years. Recently we had some misunderstanding issues, regarding privacy, boldness, and respecting each other's feelings. How can I solve the problem, and regain trust?"

I'm so glad you're asking.  Rebuilding trust is so critical to staying together- and most of us are clueless when it comes to relationship repair work.  Thanks for bringing this up!

Trust is touchy because it's so difficult to build up and so easy to lose.  It gets built up in the tiniest of everyday actions - so small it can seem invisible.  And so tiny building it back can seem like it takes forever. 

And building trust back after it's been broken is a struggle because we rarely can see the full impact our actions have on a partner.  Just as it's built in tiny increments, it can be broken in tiny increments- so tiny we can miss them if we're not invested in paying attention.

I offer that information only to help give you a little perspective. Lots f folks get impatient when trying to earn trust from a loved one after we've broken it. But it takes time- sometimes, lots of time to get back to a similar trusting place. And getting impatient isn't going to help.

You can do it though. If you stick with it.  

The keys to building trust after a break are twofold: you have to both repair the specific break, and you have to keep momentum building on the tiny incremental trust-installments you've already made. 

Repairing the Trust Break

When trust has been broken you have to apologize.  But that doesn't mean just saying you're sorry.  Apologies have four essential parts if they're going to work. 

  1. Acknowledge the specific behaviors you did that broke trust
  2. Acknowledge the emotional impact on your partner
  3. Suggest an alternative behavior you'll do if a similar situation comes up in the future
  4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: Follow through on what you said in #3

The more specific you can be when taking ownership of your actions and the more clearly you can connect to the impact it had on your sweetie the better.  But above all, be sure when you suggest alternatives for the future, you offer something you KNOW you can commit to following through.  Follow through is where trust is built.

Keeping Trust-Momentum Building

The other part of regaining trust is to keep the day-to-day trust nourishing behaviors you already have in place moving in the right direction.  We build trust when what we do and what we say are in alignment. 

So start paying extra close attention to the agreements, promises, and commitments you make with your partner and be especially careful not to over-promise. And start looking for ways to make more promises you KNOW you can follow through on.  As you create verbal agreements and follow through on them- even tiny ones- trust between you will slowly return.

I'm sorry you and your sweetie are in the difficult place of repairing trust.  But with care and intention, you can get back to a sweetly connected place again. Let me know if you'd like help along the way.


    polyamory advice | open relationship advice | open marriage advice

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a retired couples therapist, sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and keeping non-traditional relationships healthy and vibrant.  

    She can help you:

    • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependecy
    • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnection
    • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns 

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

     

    If You're Facing Relationship Betrayal Stop What You're Doing and LIsten to This

    cheating | infidelity | affairs | trust issues | cheat on me

    Ugh, you guys betrayal in intimate relationships is just the worst.  It so often leaves both partners in a spiral of shame, under a heap of hurt, so far from the connection they so deeply long for to comfort them.  

    It is simply one of the most painful experiences I see people through.  It's incredibly painful- and so deeply isolating.  What a terrible combination.

    And because it's so isolating whenever I read or hear something really good about it I want to share it with you.  So when I listened to the most recent Where Should I Begin? podcast from Esther Perel, I had to share it with you.

    The episode itself focuses on someone who believes he has a sex addiction and his wife.  He's been exploring his sexuality behind her back for decades and she's only recently found out and come to some clarity about it.  They're both hurting, and the therapist, Esther Perel, does an incredible job helping them through this painful time.

    Even if sex addiction isn't part of the puzzle for you, the experience of betrayal is relatively universal.  If you've been on either side of betrayal I think a lot of the experiences shared here will resonate with you.

    If you're dealing with the pain of betrayal in a relationship (whether you're the betrayer or the betrayed) find time to listen to this so you might feel a little less alone.

    (Click the pink text above to listen on itunes)

    And if you want to talk more about the betrayal you've been through I'm happy to help support you in working through it (whether you stay together or not).


    betrayal in relationships | trust in relationship | trust issues | cheating

    Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

    • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
    • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
    • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
    • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

    I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

    Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

     

    You Asked, I Answered: Questions About Polyamory

    open marriage poly questions | polyamory advice | nonmonogamy | open relationships

    I get asked a lot of great questions about my work- especially my work with polyamory and non-monogamy.  Here's a short list of the most commonly asked questions about open relationships.  

    Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

    poly questions | polyamory advice | nonmonogamy | open relationships

    Do you believe polyamory or monogamy is healthier?

    I don't think relationship health is determined by the number of partners involved- but I do believe it can be measured by the level of communication, empathy, trust, and connection experienced by partners.  

    For some people open relationship structures are overwhelming.  And for others monogamy is stifling.  I don't think you always have to choose one or the other, but I want all my couples to be able to openly discuss these with kindness and ease.

    How did you learn about open relationships?

    I became interested in couples work when I was in graduate school studying couples counseling.  I was fortunate to study in a holistic program that emphasized non-traditional therapeutic styles.  I was also really lucky to intern at the Gottman Relationship Research Institute when I finished school and really learn about strengthening trust in relationships.  

    I wrote my final research on non-monogamy in couples therapy and have only expanded my research and education since then.  I left the profession of mental health therapy in 2016 to focus on coaching this population.

    Does non-monogamy really work?

    Absolutely.  If you define "working" as being together a long time, I will tell you I've supported couples who are married or who have been together for 14, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.  

    If you define "working" by being generally satisfied with your relationship, supporting one another's growth, feeling empathy and desire for your partner I will tell you I've supported couples who are married and/or who have been together for 4, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.

    But to make non-monogamy work, you need to be willing to do some work.  That's where I can help you.

    Do you work with monogamous couples?

    Even for clients who choose monogamy, it can be important to know this is a specialty of mine. These clients love working with me because I apply the same open non-judgmental approach to my work with all couples.  

    I love all kinds of love - monogamous love too!

    What about affairs in polyamorous relationships?

    Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships.  I work with couples to rebuild trust and overcome jealousy every week in session.  I have helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair.  (Read more about my work with infidelity here)

    I can to help you build and repair trust no matter your relationship structure. Schedule a consultation to get started with me here. 

    Are you poly/open/non-monogamous?

    Yup.  But I won't give you a lot of information about my relationship structure beyond that because if we're going to work together I want to keep the focus on you.  


    sex counselor in portland sex therapist | couples therapist portland sexuality counselor

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

    She can help you:

    • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
    • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

    You Asked, I Answered: How to Get Over an Affair?

    affair help | how to trust again | trust issues | cheated | infidelity

    Lots of folks find me right after discovering their partner is having an affair. Here are some of the questions they ask.  

    Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

    husband cheating | wife cheated | get over an affair | trust issues

    Can we get through this affair?

    Even couple takes a different route through infidelity.  Some of my couples choose to split up- and in those cases I help them do so with respect and kindness.  

    Most of my couples choose to stay together and though it isn't easy many of them make it through.  We work to repair broken trust and create communication that works for both of you moving forward.

    Is infidelity normal?

    Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships.  Estimates range between 60% and 80% of all ("monogamous")couples experience infidelity.  So yeah, infidelity is pretty common. 

    If you're asking is it normal to feel this way, please know it is completely "normal" to feel a lot of intense and conflicting feelings whether you are the partner who has an affair or the one who didn't.  Your feelings are valid.  Let me help you work through them with integrity.

    I've helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair.  I can help you repair trust no matter what you've been through. Set up a free consultation to see if we're a good match to work together.

    I get asked a lot of great questions about my work.  Here's a short list of the most commonly asked questions from people who are recovering after an affair.  Read on to learn more.

    Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

    I feel crazy/overwhelmed after finding out my sweetheart/partner/spouse cheated.  Will this emotional roller coaster ever go away?

    Finding out you've been betrayed brings up a surprising amount of intense emotions. Often they arise when we least expect and even more often they feel out of control. I offer this information to tell you you are not alone. Not at all.  

    I've helped hundreds of folks get through all this intensity and I'm happy to help you stay grounded and clear so you can make decisions from a place of wisdom and connection- instead of unpredictable reactivity.

    How do we rebuild trust?

    I know the feelings that come up when trust is broken are intense and hard to sit with- but rebuilding trust takes time.  I recommend working with a professional to help you get a solid foundation laid or to patch cracks in that foundation with care.  I'm happy to talk more specifically about what you might need to build trust in a free consultation.


    portland polyamory counselor open relationships sex therapy portland sex counselor

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

    She can help you:

    • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
    • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

    Invest in Your Relationship's Emotional Bank Account

    Emotional Bank Account | Uncommon Love Polyamory Couples Counseling

    One of the most important things to assess in within couples relationship is the state of the emotional bank account. 

     John Gottman's research shows every time you turn towards your partner with warmth, follow through on your agreements, share affection, appreciation, and gratitude, and create positive future plans you are making a small investment in this account.  You can also make withdrawals and overdraft the account by doing the opposite.

    Having a positive balance in the account can provide sustenance during crisis and help couples through times of repair.  It creates the possibility of long-term sustainability.

    Couples who are successful make tiny investments in their relationships frequently.  Satisfied long-term partners will turn toward one another with affection, gratitude, and appreciation in both verbal and nonverbal ways up to hundreds of times per hour.

    This is even true of non-romantic partnerships.  Family members, and friends who who attend to relationships regularly in thoughtful ways are better equipped to build long lasting relationships.  Even business partners who tune in to the importance of relationships will have greater success in negotiating contracts and meetings.  These folks stick together with greater loyalty and trust.

    So how can you invest in your relationships?  

    Five simple tips to invest in your emotional bank account

    1.  Have daily positive/warm contact.

    It's amazing how little time we actually spend with our partner each week.  Think about it, you're at work over forty hours, plus commute time, you work out, or watch TV and then it's time for bed.  Carve out 30 quality minutes to spend with your sweetheart each day (away from electronic devices) and I promise you will notice a difference.

    2.  Share appreciation and gratitude often.

    Over time we forget to say those sweet things to our loved ones.  This is a problem because we stop noticing all those wonderful things, and our partner stops hearing about them. 

    Make sure that once a day you are making an investment in your relationship bank account by sharing something you appreciate about your partner.  Think about it as a vitamin for your relationship's health.

    3.  Notice the attempts your partner makes for your attention and clearly state your attempts for theirs.

    John Gottman (the most respected relationship researcher out there) talks A LOT about the importance of bids in relationships.  Bids are the times we ask for attention from our partner.  Successful couples notice bids, and more often than not, they respond warmly to their partner.  Missing bids can quickly get you into shaky territory.  

    You don't have to go along with everything your partner says, but it helps to notice all the ways they reach out to you (eye contact, affection, requests for help, invitations etc) and respond with care.

    4.  Give the benefit of the doubt.

    Sometimes when we are together for a while we start building resentments in relationships.  These can snowball if you don't stop them quickly.  Trust your partner's best intentions. 

    When in question, ask for clarification, "Honey, you're just asking if I am wearing this so we don't accidentally dress as twins- not because you think it looks bad, right?"

    5.  State your shared mission/meaning/values regularly. 

    It's important to have a shared goal on the horizon and values guiding your decisions.  This doesn't mean you always agree, but that you have a shared sense of meaning to help guide your collaborative process.  Set some dates for the future and talk openly about how much you look forward to them (not just a wedding, think about travel or shared celebrations).  

    Talk with your sweetheart about the things that add meaning to your life and shared time.

    If you want help strengthening your relationship I am taking new clients starting next week.  Give me a call for a free consultation to see if we're a good fit to work together.

     


    couples counseling in portland | sex counselor portland

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

    She can help you:

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

    How to Build Trust in Relationships

    Building Trust in Relationships | Uncommon Love Couples Counseling in Portland

    In my time working with couples I have learned a lot about building and rebuilding trust.  So many partners come in times of trouble, after affairs and lies, hoping to make things better.  

    I'm proud of the work I have done with them reconnecting in hard times.

    But nothing has taught me more about trust that my own challenges this month.  After sharing my partner's cancer diagnosis with friends and family (and all of you) I have been touched by who and how my community has shown support for us.  And nothing grows trust like showing up authentically and reliably for another in difficult times.  

    I am ever grateful for the support of my community during this difficult time.  And for the constant opportunity in my work to share my learning about trust and relationships.  

    Based in both my formal learning and my personal experience, here's are the basics of building trust:

    1.  Be Impeccable With Your Word

    The first key to building trust is to be honest in the first place.  The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz asks us to "be impeccable with your word."  Be careful to speak only in truth to build trust with people you love.

    2.  Show Up and Follow Through

    Building trust takes tiny investments over time- like deposits in a bank.  When we faced challenges the most impactful support came from folks who just remembered something tough was going on and showed up.  They texted, send cute animal video links, and offered cooking.  They sent cards and hugs.  Tiny, quick actions meant huge investments in relationship trust accounts.

    Walking your talk or following through on commitments is one of the simplest ways to build back trust.  When you make a commitment or promise be sure to see it through.  Every time you see things through you build credibility.

    3.  Have Boundaries

    Clear and consistent boundaries help us know what to expect in relationships.  The more honest we can be about our boundaries and expectations the greater trust will grow in relationships.

    4.  Show Empathy

    One of the most difficult steps in rebuilding trust is demonstrating empathy.  All too often we jump to defensiveness when we've hurt someone else- instead of connecting with their hurt feelings.  Showing true care for the emotions of the person we've wronged can be a critical salve to the trust wound.  Don't rush past this part of the process.

    5.  Apologize

    Similarly, we often forget to apologize directly and openly to the person we've hurt.  Most often we've been feeling so bad about hurting someone we've said it 100 times in our heads- but never out loud to our friend.  Don't overlook the importance of a genuine apology.  

    Ask yourself where you can focus on building trust in your relationships this week.  Notice how bringing these five paths to trust into focus you strengthen the relationships around you.  

     


    online couples counseling | relationship coach | portland relationship coach

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

    She can help you:

    Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

    Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).