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Published on March 25, 2020

How Being Vulnerable Leads to a Healthy and Fulfilling Relationship

How Being Vulnerable Leads to a Healthy and Fulfilling Relationship

What does it mean to be vulnerable in a relationship?

If you look up the word vulnerability in the dictionary, the results don’t look all that promising. You’ll end up seeing expressions like, “capable of being wounded or hurt” or “Susceptible to attacks.”

We can all agree that nobody in their right mind wants to be hurt or feel weak, especially not in front of someone they love.

The good news is, being vulnerable in front of your partner isn’t a weakness at all — it’s actually something that will strengthen your romantic relationship.

To be vulnerable with a partner means showing them your true self, including your fears, dreams, and emotions. However, not everyone is comfortable showing vulnerability in relationships — that’s why we’re here to help!

Keep reading to find out how being vulnerable will help your relationship and 6 ways to make it happen.

Why Is It Important to Show Vulnerability in Relationships?

Being completely open and honest with your spouse or partner can be a little scary at first.

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After all, you want your partners to see the best in you. You don’t want them to know what keeps you up at night or point out your insecurities. However, there are many benefits to being vulnerable with your significant other.

Here are some of the ways that vulnerability in relationships can help strengthen them.

Humanize Yourself

When we are in a relationship with someone, we want them to see the best in us. We want to seem absolutely perfect. Perfection is great when you’re filling out a job application, but not when you’re trying to connect with a romantic partner.

Perfection is boring, unattainable, and may just leave your partner feeling bad about themselves. On the other hand, the more vulnerable you are, the more relatable and “human” you become to your partner.

Boost Partner Intimacy

Intimacy is both a sexual and emotional bond you share with your partner, and you cannot have satisfying intimacy without vulnerability in the mix. Showing your vulnerable side to your spouse means giving yourself to them wholeheartedly.

Strengthen Empathy

It’s easy to have empathy for someone’s thoughts, feelings, and problems when you know who they are deep down. The more willing partners are to share vulnerable moments, the stronger their empathy will be for one another.

Embrace Your True Self

As you open up and connect with your spouse or partner, you start to build trust in one another. Your significant other knows you’ll always be honest with them, and you know that your partner will never judge your thoughts or feelings, which can help you begin to let go of some of your self-judgment.

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Open up to True Love

As cheesy as it might sound, it’s true! The walls you’ve built up in your heart were put there to protect you from getting hurt, but they are also preventing you from fully loving and committing to someone new.

How to Show Vulnerability in Relationships

For some, showing vulnerability in relationships is awkward, emotional, and sometimes downright uncomfortable. So, how do you do it?[1] Here are some simple tips to help you learn how to open up and share your inner self.

1. Take Baby Steps

You can’t learn to run until you learn to walk. Being vulnerable with your spouse doesn’t mean you have to share your every insecurity right off the bat. Start small by opening up about little things.

The longer you practice opening up about the little things, the easier it will be to start sharing bigger parts of your life with your partner.

2. Be Open About Your Struggles

If you’re someone who doesn’t naturally share their feelings, be honest about it!

Let your partner know that you struggle with vulnerability and reassure them that your feelings on the matter have nothing to do with who they are as a person.

Tell them this is something that you’re working on and ask for their patience as you go through this journey together.

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3. Get to the Root of Your Discomfort

If you’re not crazy about opening up with your spouse or partner, it can be helpful to ask yourself why. If you love and trust your partner, why wouldn’t you want to take your relationship to the next level?

It could be that you’ve been burned in the past by a friend, romantic partner, or family member, and now you’re reluctant to trust someone new with your heart.

Whatever the case, getting to the bottom of your refusal to share can help you work through past problems.

4. Be Honest

We’re often so caught in what we think our partner wants us to be, especially at the beginning of a new relationship, that we sometimes forget that the person we are deep down is pretty awesome, too.

Practice being honest with your significant other. When they ask for your opinion, give it. Don’t tip-toe around the question or give the answer you think they want to hear. Be uniquely you.

5. Ask for Help

If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to lend a hand/a listening ear/whatever you need at that moment.

The more willing you are to ask for help, the easier it will be to express your worries, insecurities, etc. with your spouse. In turn, you will learn how to communicate and build emotional security.

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If you’re not sure how to go about asking for help, this article may be able to help.

6. Practice Self-Love

The more you love yourself, the easier it will be to open up to other people about who you are. You have to be able to look in the mirror and say, “I’m not perfect, and that’s okay!”

This isn’t an overnight journey by any means, but loving your good qualities and being okay with the ones that still need work will help you feel comfortable sharing your truths with the one you love.

The Bottom Line

The thought of being vulnerable in relationships may make you queasy at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. Strengthen your relationship, build trust, and establish empathy by showing your partner your real thoughts and feelings.

More Tips on Vulnerability

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sylvia Smith

Sylvia is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships.

6 Reasons Why You Should Not Give Up on Love 12 Relationship Deal Breakers That You Shouldn’t Tolerate How To Resolve Relationship Conflicts without Hurting Each Other How Being Vulnerable Leads to a Healthy and Fulfilling Relationship How the 5 Love Languages Help Strengthen Your Relationship

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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