Don’t Be Scared! Vulnerability Increases Trust and Romance, Experts Say
Vulnerability is the most important ingredient of a trusting, intimate relationship.
While self-sufficiency and autonomy can help us weather the storms of life, it can also rob us of true intimacy. For a relationship to be balanced, partners must be able to depend on one another and feel that they are needed and appreciated for the support they give. If we have been let down in the past, the prospect of needing someone can be frightening. Opening up to our partner can make us feel vulnerable and exposed but it is the most important ingredient of a trusting, intimate relationship.
Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness but it’s actually a strength. Dr. Brené Brown, a renowned expert on vulnerability explains that it’s really about “sinking into” the joyful moments in life – about daring to show up and letting ourselves be seen. She writes, “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
It’s unfortunate that we often equate vulnerability with weakness. In her landmark book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Given this definition, the act of falling in love is the ultimate risk. Love is uncertain. It’s inherently risky because our partner could leave without a moment’s notice, betray us, or stop loving us. Dr. Brown cautions us that putting ourselves out there also means there’s a greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt.
Take a moment to consider that you might be sabotaging relationship after relationship if you don’t get to the root of your fear of being vulnerable. If you are afraid of showing weakness or exposing yourself to your partner, for instance, you might not be aware that fear is preventing you from being totally engaged in the relationship. You may be freezing out the opportunity for love because you are afraid to let your authentic self shine and to share your innermost thoughts, feelings, and wishes.
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