Vulnerability in Relationships: Why and How
“True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are, it requires you to be who you are. And that’s vulnerable.”
– Brené Brown
“True belonging” is that what we are looking for? In relationships, I think yes. We truly want that feeling that I can be me and my partner will still love me. I can show my ugly truths and they will not judge me. They will accept me and we can figure this out together.
That sounds good right? So how do we achieve that you ask…..well, I wouldn’t say it’s easy. Let’s start with the word vulnerability. When we hear the word vulnerable or vulnerability we often think of a weak spot. Let’s change that. When we change the perspective and put it in relational context we can see it as a strength. When we focus on the courage it takes to share the places we hide everyday, we see the difficulty in being true to ourselves in front of our partner. And that takes courage.
A big part of what keeps us from being vulnerable is fear of shame. Shame is what tells me I am a bad person. If that is my belief or what I was taught as a child, that is hard to overcome. The other side of that is guilt. If I feel guilt that’s based on my actions or behaviors and is easier to change and accept. Next time you go to a place questioning your thoughts and actions ask yourself, “what am I afraid others will believe about me …..(fill in the blank)”. You might find shame or guilt around that.
Continuing our vulnerability quest. If, in the past, I was vulnerable and it was met with shame I will be very cautious about being vulnerable again. Since we want to make our relationship a safe place to be vulnerable we need to meet the vulnerability with understanding, empathy and acceptance. In this space we can grow together and become more connected as a couple. In this space we feel supported and more willing to take the emotional risks that grow our love for each other.
Here are some tips and ways you can start your vulnerability journey with your partner:
-Wants and needs
-Past conversations that were good for you
Show vulnerability physically:
-All kinds of touch
-Put your hand on their back
-Smack the booty
-Touch their shoulder
-Sit close enough to touch on the couch
Vulnerability is how we open-up emotionally. It’s how we show our feelings, weaknesses, successes and our true self to our partner. It is being honest and transparent about our thoughts, fears and insecurities. It is an essential aspect of building a strong and meaningful connection with others.
It also comes with risks. By being vulnerable we open ourselves up to potential hurt or shame. It requires a great deal of trust and the willingness to accept potential hurt or rejection. I know, why do we want to do this then? The alternative, of never knowing true connection and acceptance is a far greater risk in this game we call life.
I hope you take from this the importance of seeing vulnerability as a sign of strength and courage as opposed to a weakness. This acceptance and understanding will foster deeper connections leading to a more fulfilling, supportive and intimate relationship. This does come with some cautions around building that trust first. Building trust gradually and ensuring that both individuals in the relationship are willing to be vulnerable can lead to a healthier and more rewarding connection.
I wish you all the best as you work on strengthening that vulnerability muscle and reach more often for each other to build that safe space together.
Carry on friends!!
Photo by Heidi Drexler Photography