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5 Trust Building Exercises for Couples That Enhance Relationships

Trust is one of the essential components of a relationship. There are five main exercises for couples to build better trust.

The Bachelor is one of the longest-running reality shows on television, first premiering on ABC in 2002. Unlike other long-running reality series, the formula of the Bachelor has stayed relatively constant since its inception…

It involves one eligible suitor and a group of women who “go on a journey to find love.” This journey is usually an extravagant expedition worldwide with stops in some of the most exotic and romantic locations.

Almost every season, at least one date usually involves an adventurous activity or an experience that instills fear. These activities ranged from bungee jumping, scaling bridges, and free falling from skyscrapers.

Usually, cute one-liners are associated with these dates, such as “how far would you fall in love?”. “Are you willing to leap for love?”

The likely rationale for these dates is that terrifying experiences usually bond those who partake in them. And on the Bachelor, the script is almost always the same.

One or both individuals tearfully express fears as they near the edge of whatever precipice they encounter. Then, as if on cue, one offers comfort and support to the other with the simple phrase, “trust me.” It is usually enough to convince them to participate.

The couple then completes the activity (of course, while holding hands) and, upon finishing, celebrates that they could conquer their fears together.

Science also plays a vital role in these adventurous dates,.as participation in daring activities can signal the release of adrenaline, oxytocin, and dopamine.

Adrenaline can imitate feelings of falling in love. Oxytocin is related to attachment and bonding, and dopamine is linked with pleasure. The whole experience usually leaves both parties feeling they can trust each other and do anything.

The Importance of Trust in Relationships

Trust is crucial to any relationship because it fails to exist without it.  Trust depicts vulnerability, constancy, and reliability.

As we all know, trust is fragile and needs to be developed and fostered over time. Lasting trust cannot be sustained from a single experience but needs to be consistent and proven across multiple occasions.

Paradoxically, trust can also erode from one single, solitary action in mere minutes.

Whether you are in a new relationship and are first building trust, in a long relationship, and solidifying belief in any relationship where trust has been broken, you may wonder how to form or rebuild trust…

Thankfully, there are several exercises that couples can do to help enhance the trust in their relationship!

Below are some examples of these trust-building exercises.

Exercise #1: Sustained Eye Contact  for Trust Building Exercises

Sustained Eye Contact Trust Building Exercise
Maintaining eye contact with your partner is a beautiful and easy way to build trust daily.

William Shakespeare once said, “the eyes are the window to the soul.” This expression suggests that people’s eyes can accurately portray their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Whereas a person can fake a smile or mislead with body language, Shakespeare believed that the eyes could not lie. The eyes fill with tears when sad, avert from dishonesty and light up with excitement and happiness.

Eye contact is essential to verbal and non-verbal communication, fostering engagement, connectedness, and intimacy, all important elements of trust.

How to Perform Exercise

In this activity, a couple sits across each other, gazing into each other’s eyes for five minutes. Individuals should avoid staring at each other or making faces and maintain comfortable eye contact.

Partners should NOT converse during this activity but can use soft music if background noise is desired.

This exercise is recommended to be repeated several times per day daily.

It is important to note that this activity can often feel uncomfortable initially, but it is essential to refrain from darting your eyes or averting eye contact despite this discomfort.

Why It Works

This activity aims to slow down the busy pace of life and allow a couple to make an open, honest, and deep emotional connection.

Continued eye contact allows partners to truly “see” and understand each other. Sometimes, eye contact can elicit dormant emotions, allowing a couple to discuss and process deep feelings. Eye contact also will enable individuals to showcase their vulnerabilities. allowing their partner to look right into “the windows of their soul.”

If sustained eye contact is complicated or cannot be maintained, it is suggestive that a person is uncomfortable with being intimate or vulnerable.

Exercise #2: Blindfolded Challenges for Trust Building Exercises

Blindfolded Couple Trust Building Exercises

When a person is blind or has temporarily lost sight, they must rely on their other senses and assistance from others to navigate through life. Depending on one’s senses necessitates trust in yourself while relying on others requires trust in those around you. 

The loss of sight makes a person physically AND emotionally vulnerable to outside sources, as they can be hurt or taken advantage of.

If a person does not trust another to keep them safe, or if they lack faith that this person will get them to their desired destination, it is unlikely that they will allow this person to assist them.

The purpose of this exercise is for one person to be blindfolded while their partner assists them in completing a challenge. Once a challenge is completed, partners must switch places, allowing both individuals to experience both roles.

How to Perform Exercises

Several challenges can be conducted, including an obstacle course, the trust fall, and the taste test.

Obstacle Course

In the obstacle course challenge, one person creates a simple obstacle course using household objects while their partner is blindfolded. Their partner must then remain blindfolded while allowing their partner to lead them through the series of obstacles.

Trust Fall

In the trust fall, one partner is blindfolded and stands several inches before their mate. Their partner stands behind them with their arms extended outwards.

The blindfolded partner must cross their arms over their chest while allowing themselves to fall backward, trusting that their mate will catch them. This exercise can be repeated multiple times as the couple moves further apart each time.

Taste Test

Finally, the taste test activity is when one partner is blindfolded while their mate sets several different foods in front of them. The blindfolded partner must taste each sample while trusting their mate will not subject them to something harmful or unfavorable.

Why It Works

The blindfold challenges allow individuals to be completely vulnerable with their loved ones while trusting that their partner will keep them safe and protect them from harm.

If a person does not have this type of confidence in their partner, they will be unable to complete the challenge or may not even allow themselves to be blindfolded in the first place.

The common theme in all the variations of the blindfold challenge is that mates must give up control and allow themselves to be verbally or physically guided by their partner.

To be successful at these challenges, individuals NEED to release their inhibitions and fears while putting their complete faith in their partner. Trust will continue to grow with each successful completion of a blindfold challenge. 

Exercise #3: Acroyoga for Trust Building Exercises

Acroyoga Trust Building Couple Exercises

Acroyoga is an exercise that incorporates yoga and acrobatics while focusing on a person’s overall health and well-being.

The acrobatic portion of acro yoga is playful and fun, while the yoga component focuses on the balance between mind, body, and spirit.

How to Perform Exercise

In acro yoga, there always needs to be at least two to three people participating.

One person is always lifted, commonly termed the “flyer,” while another individual maintains contact with the ground, known as the “base.” Another person usually maintains the role of “spotter” to ensure the flyer’s safety.

Acroyoga is built on communication, connection, and trust and implores that attention must always be focused on your partner. 

Why It Works

Couples can utilize acro yoga as a trust-enhancing activity and a way to have fun. Partners need to learn how to practice and work together to succeed.

The “flyer” must trust that their partner, the “base,” will hold them up without dropping them. Partners need to communicate (opens in new tab) and to be fully in tune with each other at all times, thus fostering intimacy and closeness.

Exercise #4: Disclosure for

Couple communicating

Children learn early that a particular type of exclusivity exists when secrets are shared.

Children understand that secrets separate them from others who are not privy to their secrets.

At a young age, the content of the secret is less important than the fact that the person chose to share it with.

Nothing delights a young child more than being told not to share a secret with anyone else.

Knowing another person deems you trustworthy at any age can be pretty powerful.

People do not share their fears, embarrassments, or soul-crushing moments with anyone for fear of being judged, ridiculed, or misunderstood. A secret will only be shared if a person has confidence that it will be received with kindness, understanding, and acceptance.

Secrets leave people vulnerable to attack, as a person’s most profound thoughts often encompass their worst fears about themselves.

Sharing secrets, disclosing past transgressions, and admitting mistakes will only occur when there is trust. Simply put, people who do not trust their mate will not open up.

Only when a person feels confident that their thoughts will be safe in the hands of their partner will they practice transparency.

The act of disclosure can be a potent trust-building activity for couples.

How to Perform Exercise

One partner can take turns disclosing while the other partner practices listening without interruption. 

Partners can then alternate so that each has a turn to disclose and to listen.

Several variations of this activity can be conducted freestyle or through structured prompts. 

In a freestyle version, individuals are free to discuss whatever they wish, whereas in a prompt version, the topics are provided.

A couple can strengthen their bond through this experience regardless of how the activity is conducted.

Why It Works

Disclosure can allow a person to apologize and take personal responsibility while allowing their partner to show understanding and empathy.

Equally important to disclosure is the way that a partner reacts to the information that is shared.

Accepting your partner’s ugly truths and past transgressions can be a powerfully intimate and healing experience.       

Exercise #5: Relinquishing Control for Trust Building Exercises

Relinquishing Control Over Finances

A dynamic exists in most relationships where one party is more dominant than the other.

They are the ones that take the initiative, plan vacations and outings, and handle the family’s finances.

Some individuals may be more dominant due to personality traits and characteristics, while others may take control simply because they lack faith in their partner.

This type of individual asserts dominance because they do not trust their partner will come through. 

Sometimes this notion is perceived, while at other times, it is accurate.

How to Perform Trust Building Exercises

In this trust-building exercise, the dominant person in the relationship relinquishes control to their partner in some area, thus allowing their partner to step up and follow through.

For example, a person might ask their mate to pay an important bill by the due date.

This person has verbalized and outlined their expectations while allowing their partner to follow through.

If the partner completes the task, it affirms that the partner can also be trusted.

This trust will continue to grow with each successful task completion.

By relinquishing control, a person becomes vulnerable to the possibility of disappointment.

Why It Works

Reliability and consistency are the essential parts of this exercise.

The more a person can prove themselves reliable and trustworthy, the more they will be trusted.

It is important to note that this exercise cannot occur in just one sitting and has to be run several times to be effective. 

Additionally, this exercise will only work if the less dominant partner wants to prove trustworthiness. If they are not invested in this activity or their relationship, they will continue disappointing their partner, thus further eroding trust.

Wrapping Up Trust Building Exercises

Most of these exercises are far less exciting than the ones shown on The Bachelor. However, these exercises are easy to employ and can be conducted anytime, anywhere, and consistently. And, with any luck, the trust in your relationship will far surpass the length of any relationship that results from The Bachelor.

Photo of author

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS is a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey, a Nationally Certified Counselor, an Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a mental health freelance writer. Tracy has fourteen years of clinical and supervisory experience in a variety of mental health settings and levels of care.

2 thoughts on “5 Trust Building Exercises for Couples That Enhance Relationships”

  1. Fascinating, I am going to use your exercises at a party with my four kids and their twenty something partners. I’m having a new years party with my four children. I’m practicing so I can do retreats for engaged couples. Thank you.

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