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There’s no question that committing to another person can be a terrifying prospect. It means putting all your eggs in one basket. There’s no one waiting in the wings if this relationship doesn’t work out. There isn’t a safety net.

If we’re truly committed, we give our person everything we have to offer. That’s a risky decision, but it’s essential. Without this level of commitment, love will not last.

Trust is another vital part of commitment, and it is also a challenge. None of us is without our idiosyncrasies and insecurities. But the more honest we are, the more we can discover that our partner really loves us as we are, not as the idealized version of us that showed up when we first began to date.

Vulnerability creates trust, and trust is the oxygen a relationship needs to breathe. Trust also builds over time, in lots of conversations, like the ones you can have on this date when you ask the questions at right.

Preparation: Define what trust and commitment mean to you. Think about what they looked like in your family of origin. Name the little ways you and your partner show commitment to each other.

Location: Find an elevated location with a great view. This could be a bridge, a hill, a rooftop. Ideally there will be a bench or other comfortable spot where you can sit while talking through open-ended questions.

If you can, make it a place that’s meaningful to you — at the top of the steps of a library where you met, or in a state park where you first hiked together. Wherever you are, be sure it’s quiet enough to have an honest conversation.

If you choose to have this date at home, you might take turns being blindfolded while your partner leads you around the house. It’s a great opportunity to practice clear communication (“you’re about to go through a doorway”) as well as trust.

Open-ended questions to ask about trust in your relationship:

  1. How did your parents show their commitment — or lack of commitment — to each other? How do you think their example influences our relationship?
  2. What does trust mean to you?
  3. Think about a time when you didn’t feel you could trust me. What could I have done to fix the situation?
  4. What do you need from me in order to trust me even more?
  5. What do you need from me to show that I’m committed to this relationship?
  6. What areas do you think we need to work on to build trust?
  7. When it comes to trust and commitment, how are we similar and how are we different? How can we accept these differences?

(Also see “Compassionate Communication” for more insights on how the words we use can strengthen our most meaningful relationships.)

This article originally appeared in “5 Essential Conversations for Any Couple” in the December 2020 issue of Experience Life.

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