Vulnerability in Relationships: How It Benefits for Couples

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If you are trying to save face in any situation and cannot relax even with a loved one, you will most likely put an equal sign between vulnerability and weakness. Psychologists think differently: vulnerability is a manifestation of courage and the key to successful communication. We tell you why showing vulnerability in a relationship is essential, accepting your feelings and desires, and not being afraid to share them with other people.

showing vulnerability in a relationship

What Is the Point of Vulnerability in Relationships?

We are used to associating emotional vulnerability in relationships with something terrible, dangerous, and harmful. If you turn to the dictionary, this word implies insecurity, the presence of weaknesses, inability to resist. We have been taught that it is easier to offend a vulnerable person, to lead them astray, or even stop communication altogether. And we are building up the armor, hiding our weaknesses under it, and diligently learning to keep the blows of life.

Vulnerability is an inherent quality of any person. In wildlife, it is generally impossible to find at least one secure system. Our physical and mental condition may suffer from external influences and our decisions. Still, if we take the body's fragility for granted, we seek to eradicate intangible psychological vulnerability or at least hide it. The latter is directly connected with feelings of fear and shame. We are afraid that our vulnerability will be noticed and ashamed if this happens. However, people who hide vulnerability are not honest with themselves and others, and it is one of the dating red flags.

Fear and shame make us hide a piece of ourselves — one that we don't like. It seems unattractive, stupid, ugly, ridiculous. Something that can make another person reject us, make fun of, or not even notice. For fear of being hurt, we do not take the initiative in life. We neither take the first steps nor dare to change nor do what we want. The development of an inferiority complex is connected with the vulnerability issues in relationships — when it seems to us that we are not good enough, including not suitable to be loved.

Why Do We Fear of Vulnerability in Relationships?

Men generally find it difficult to open up in a romantic relationship. They want to find women online, but they don't know how to show their feelings. All "real men" who do not cry and are always reliable should remember: you are not alone. Being vulnerable in relationships is today considered a key element in healthy, full-fledged communication. But in practice, everything is not so simple.

Many of us believe that vulnerability is a sign of weakness, not strength. It's a delusion. The well-known researcher of the phenomenon of vulnerability, Brene Brown, describes it as "emotional risk, insecurity, and uncertainty that fill the meaning of everyday life." In a romantic relationship, being vulnerable means first saying "I love you," admitting a mistake, suggesting pair therapy, or finally getting the courage and telling your partner what you need from them. In a romantic relationship, we are afraid to talk about our worries, needs, mistakes, and shortcomings — it seems that the partner will change their minds about us. We are afraid that we will be laughed at, condemned, ceased to be loved, or left alone.

Vulnerability in relationships allows us to reveal our hidden thoughts and feelings, but we can be rejected. Each of us has at least once faced the fact that people offensively reacted to our frankness. Fear of experiencing emotional discomfort makes us hide our true feelings.

Our ability to show vulnerability mainly depends on the parental model of behavior. Spencer Norty, a family therapist, believes that if you grew up in an atmosphere of free expression of feelings, it would be easier for you to communicate with others in the same way. But if in childhood, you were not explained what it means to be vulnerable in a relationship, it would be difficult for you to open up in adulthood.

Examples of Vulnerability in Relationships

examples of vulnerability in relationshipsIf we have a fear of vulnerability in relationships but recognize and demonstrate it, we do not need special protection from pain and disappointment. We are ready to experience different feelings. We know that they can hurt and offend us. But this only makes us more sensitive to the whole range of experiences offered by the universe. Now we can genuinely smile at the good that it brings to us. Here are healthy examples to show your true feelings.

Remaining yourself, gaining selfhood and individuality

We live in a world of well-conceived and acted out masks. Men and women are watching us from TV screens, striking with their minds, eloquence, unusual youthfulness, and beauty. Social networks show profiles of successful, highly effective, healthy, exceptional people. We want to match. We want to be unique, influential, exciting people without weaknesses and troubles. And we live like this, putting on a mask of a decent person, who is pretty in every way, or turning to the world with just one of our best, in our opinion, sides. And we cease to be real. Remaining the same always, even with minor fluctuations, means demonstrating vulnerability in relationships.

Recognizing the mistakes to change the patterns we use towards other people

Real intimacy always arises where there is feeling vulnerable in a relationship. Closeness, in itself, implies that we let the other person get so close to ourselves that we are not afraid to open and show them our most painful sides. Emotionally stripping naked is always scary, no less scary to do it in front of loved ones. Those are the closest people who inflict the most terrible and cruel wounds on us. But this does not negate the fact that, by creating close relationships, we take risks always. Recognizing and demonstrating your vulnerability is the only way to create intimacy, feel, hear, understand each other.

Understanding people through emotions, compassion, and empathy

Why is vulnerability important in a relationship? Non-accepting makes us demanding and not sensitive, not only to ourselves but also to other people. To empathize with the loss of another person, to mourn with their grief, to feel emptiness and pain, you should bare yourself first. If we are obsessed with retouching our wounds, it will be difficult for us to hear another person's cry. Finally, we cannot be tolerant enough and sensitive to other people if we lack the wisdom to discern our shortcomings and accept them.

Setting high and hard-to-reach goals being not afraid to fail

Fear of making a mistake and being publicly crucified for it has not made anyone stronger and braver in setting or achieving a goal. Analyzing perfectionism, the desire to always achieve perfection in everything, you will see that it never helps achieve high goals. It only makes us choose the most realistic and effortless goals, not to fail and cope with every task. When you are afraid of failing, everything that you prefer to do in life stays within your comfort zone.

Accepting your emotions and those of others

Trying to avoid vulnerability leads to numbness of the person's feelings and emotional sphere. Unfortunately, the human psyche does not know how to be selective — to block negative experiences and live bright and happy. Numbness of feelings means that we cease to live any emotions, both joyful and bitter, to feel the beauty of the universe, enjoy the coming day, smile at the playing children, feel life, happiness, and warmth. You just need to live and experience negative emotions — pain, disappointment, fear. Being open to them is one of the examples of vulnerability in relationships.

Advice on Showing Vulnerability in a Relationship

Here are some expert tips to help you become more open-minded and honest with your partner. Vulnerability in a relationship is always about accepting every darkest corner of your soul and not being afraid to ask for the help of loved ones.

Look at the people around you — which of them shows their vulnerability? Learn from them

Maybe this is your colleague who shared their failure on Facebook or a friend who dared to admit that they are struggling with drug addiction. When communicating with people who are not shy about showing their vulnerability, you can learn how to be vulnerable in a relationship from their experience. Gradually, your defense will begin to weaken. Spending time with emotionally open and vulnerable people, you not only increase the level of your mental comfort but also build an interpersonal security system that allows you to share feelings more openly.

Train a little bit

Often those who do not know how to be more vulnerable in relationships had a painful relationship experience in the past. Open up, starting with small things, and gradually move on to more important things. The more you practice, the higher your desire to take risks and be vulnerable in a love relationship will be.vulnerability issues in relationships

Understand your feelings and check your internal compass

If you are used to avoiding complex emotions and suppressing them, it's hard for you to understand how you feel. Keeping a diary, meditation, working with a therapist will help understand your emotional life. Getting to know their own strong emotions, people learn to share their feelings and strengthen their relationship with loved ones. Therapy can become a comfortable environment in which it's not scary to learn to show healthy vulnerability.

Recognize the feelings of your partner

As family coach Jonathan Robert notes, conflicts in relationships arise when one of the partners dares to reveal their feelings. The second demonstrates a defensive reaction or immediately begins to propose solutions instead of listening to them. Often we rush things and don't pay attention to the fact that our partner is offended or scared. First, you need to recognize their feelings, and only then begin to solve the problem. It is difficult because we usually think that we are helping a person, but in fact, we only offend them even more.

To recognize a partner's feelings, you must recognize the value of their experience, even if you don't fully share it. For example, you can say, "Yes, I understand why you took it that way" or "You must have been very upset/unpleasant/painful to go through this."

Learn to communicate more emotionally

After you have recognized the feelings of a partner, you can gently state your view of the problem and start a conversation about how to deal with it. For example, "I didn't want you to experience this, but now I understand how you felt" or "I want to understand how you feel so that we can find a solution together." For example, it's better to say, "When you are away from home for a long time, we all feel bad and lonely. It would be great if you tried to come home a bit earlier tomorrow. And if you are late, please warn about this by telephone."

Remember that people are positive about vulnerabilities

How did you feel when someone opened before you? Most likely, you were pleased that they shared their personal story with you. Or you admired the courage that was required for this. Remember that we feel close to those who share their experiences honestly and frankly with us — those who are not afraid to show vulnerability.

Take responsibility for your emotionality

The intensity of your emotions is disproportionate to the depth of the relationship, and it should be a bright billboard, making it clear that the problem is rooted in you, and not in the other person. You are not in love with a person. You are in love with the idea of falling in love. You are in love with the idea of not being alone and desperate. The other person, in this case, is interchangeable and meaningless. Most people, even with an average level of psychological adaptation, can feel it. Therefore, it is so unattractive. Analyze the emotions that cause vulnerability. Be responsible for these emotions.

As much as we would like, it is impossible to suppress emotions selectively. We cannot refuse sadness, anxiety, and fear, leaving only positive things for ourselves. By suppressing vulnerability, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to feel joy, inspiration, and happiness. But these tremendous emotions are mainly brought by close communication with loved ones, the achievement of important goals, the study of something new and other things that require us to be sincere, open, and ready for failure and error.

If you learn to show your real emotion, you will see that this is not scary at all. Just trust your partner, and they will be your compass in this new exciting journey. To show your weaknesses makes your million times more reliable. Only after understanding this, you will become genuinely unbreakable.

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