Embracing Vulnerabilities in Relationships
When we hear the word Vulnerability, we just start to feel uncomfortable almost instantly. Let me clarify what vulnerability is.
Vulnerability simply means choosing not to hide your true feelings from others.
Lot of us have deep, even unconscious fears of intimacy. It’s so difficult to open up because we aren’t wholly vulnerable even with ourselves; tapping into our inner core often means having to deal with uncomfortable or confusing emotions.
Many of us have never been taught how to openly express our feelings. For whatever reason—perhaps our upbringing, childhood trauma, or the fact that our parents never expressed their emotions—we've grown up with behaviors deeply embedded into us to keep us suppressed and bottled up.
The relationship that we share with ourselves is the foundation for the relationship that we share with others. The best way to improve any relationship is to be more and more aware about yourself, fully accepting yourself for who you are without running away from your insecurities, fear, guilt, and things that trigger your emotions. When you start accepting things that you suck at, you’re saying “I have a problem. I know I’m not perfect, but that’s okay. I can deal with it, and I will deal with it.”
Everyone has flaws, imperfections, embarrassing stories, and past mistakes they wish they could forget. We are so influenced by social media that we begin to believe that people are so picture perfect and that other people's relationships are so wonderful that we forget that real life is so different from what we see on Facebook and Instagram.
The trick is to realize that everyone feels this way. No matter how successful, beautiful, perfect someone appears, they all have the same awkwardness, insecurity, and self-doubt, things that they don’t want anyone to know about them.
In the beginning of relationships, it's easy to open up about the fun stuff — like the most stupid thing you did, when you were thrown out of class for being indecent or your most embarrassing childhood memory — when it comes to the big, scary, emotional stuff, being open and honest isn't always so simple.
It can mean putting yourself in a position where you can be rejected, saying a joke that might not be funny, asserting an opinion that may offend others, discussing about your hurtful feelings might push them away. It’s risky and there are often real consequences to being vulnerable.
But the key to true vulnerability is that you are willing to accept the consequences no matter what. You will offend some people. You will turn some people off. You might lose a friend or a client or a romantic partner. But vulnerability is the path to true human connection.
Connection is one of the most important parts of human life. It plays a major role in our sense of purpose, and helps us to find meaning. Our most substantial connections are made when we see the damaged, difficult, and most complex parts of each other.
While most of us think we want close connections, we resist vulnerability, the very trait that makes that connection possible. In a culture that often praises having a thick skin and staying strong and self-contained, we mistakenly brush off being vulnerable as weak. We believe it will unnecessarily expose us to hurts and humiliations we could easily avoid.
A few years ago, researcher Brene Brown conducted thousands of interviews, and came to the conclusion that the key to connection is vulnerability. “There can be no intimacy—emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, physical intimacy—without vulnerability,” said Brown. “One of the reasons there is such an intimacy deficit today is because we don’t know how to be vulnerable. It’s about being honest with how we feel, about our fears, about what we need.” Vulnerability is glue that holds intimate relationships together. “
It is an opportunity to grow as a person and a way to find deep satisfaction in your relationships. Opening up and relinquishing your fears of rejection helps builds trust and honesty with others, fosters empathy, and builds stronger bonds.
If you don't allow yourself to be vulnerable, your partner can't be expected to understand what you need and want from them, this will cause a lot of confusion as to why you are acting in a certain way, and they will continue to try to figure out and will never understand why you dislike something or why certain things trigger you more deeply. They will interpret things differently and will not feel supported, and you will blame them for not being understanding and supportive. This will put your entire relationship into avoidance mode, where you refuse to discuss some issues at all.
When someone tries to avoid having honest conversations with their partner for fear of being hurt, that results in the individual being closed off. "Keeping yourself closed off so you don’t get hurt means you can never be close to another person," so the only way to share a healthy relationship is to be able to open up and share from the depth of your heart and be open to being affected by what they feel about you, even when it’s painful.”
The only way to avoid getting hurt is to know that the person with whom you reveal your emotional side is genuine and will truly understand your feelings without criticizing you.
Sometimes we express things to people who lack compassion and empathy to treat us and accept us the way we are, which end up creating bad experience for us and we close ourselves down permanently to people with whom we could have shared wonderful intimate relationship.
Opening oneself up to vulnerability doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. An exhausting one at times, but I promise you, if you work on having difficult conversations, expressing yourself honestly even when its risky and disappointing, if you are able to tell everybody that “This is what defines me and I refuse to be anything else but myself- you will always find people who align with your values and you will find a new depth in all your relationships.