Most people long to be deeply known and thoroughly understood by their partners. However, to reach this level of intimacy in your relationship, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable requires you to open up and share who you are, what you need, and what you fear without knowing how your partner will respond. This can be scary as the underlying fear might be that if your partner truly understands you and all your flaws, they might reject you. While this is a possibility, there’s also a chance that your partner will respond with empathy, understanding, and compassion. When you feel safe enough to be vulnerable with your partner, you can experience a deeper level of intimacy and a stronger couple connection.
What is vulnerability?
The dictionary defines vulnerability as the state of being exposed to the possibility of being physically or emotionally harmed or attacked. Vulnerability requires emotional risk. When you’re vulnerable, you’re profoundly sharing who you are at your core. You’re allowing your partner to know you without any filter. This opens you up to the possibility of being judged or rejected. It requires you to share how you think, what you feel, what you need, and what you’ve experienced with complete authenticity. To be genuinely vulnerable is to allow yourself to be authentically known.
Vulnerability requires a great deal of trust. You have to trust your partner, but more importantly, you have to trust yourself. You might think of being vulnerable as being weak. However, it takes a great deal of strength to share yourself and open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt, misunderstood, or rejected. Although rejection is possible, there’s also a possibility of feeling heard and understood by your partner. When you feel loved and appreciated for who you are, it creates a strong level of intimacy with your partner.
Although being vulnerable can be risky, not being vulnerable can be devastating to your relationship. Here are some ways to become more vulnerable with your partner to improve your relationship.
To become more vulnerable with your partner, you must first honestly know yourself. Everyone has a past and early experiences that may be impacting your relationship. Knowledge of these experiences can help your partner better understand who you are. Be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Remind yourself that your feelings are valid, and you don’t need to judge them. Become more aware of what triggers an emotional response or causes you to shut down or explode. When you’re aware of some of your deepest fears and needs, you have the opportunity to be vulnerable with your partner by sharing them.
Deeply sharing and being vulnerable requires trust, and trust requires time. You don’t, and shouldn’t, share all of your most personal feelings and experiences on the first date. It’s okay to start slow and ask your partner questions to understand them better. Encouraging your partner to be more vulnerable with you can help you feel safer sharing with them. Start by sharing something about yourself that reveals something that you feel comfortable discussing. When you build more trust and start feeling comfortable, you can open up about things of a more personal nature.
Share at the moment.
Be more open about sharing what’s going on when it happens. If your partner says something that hurts you, share how you’re feeling with them. Let them know that what they said hurt you. Share what you’re feeling and why from your perspective. Use “I” statements when you share. For example, you could say, “I feel hurt when you say I’m being sensitive as it’s something my mother used to say whenever I cried.” When you’re hurt or upset, you might want to ignore it or bury it to discuss it later. However, the more you can authentically share yourself and your feelings at the moment, the closer you’ll feel to your partner.
Ask for what you need.
When you ask for what you need from your partner, they’re able to make an active choice. They get to decide if they’re going to meet your needs. You’ll learn a lot about your partner and the health of your relationship from their response. It might be not easy for you to ask for what you need. If it is, you may want to consider your self-esteem. Perhaps you feel like you don’t have any needs. Maybe you understand that you have needs, but you’re afraid you’ll be rejected if you ask for what you need. Asking for what you need requires vulnerability. You might indeed open yourself up to disappointment. However, it’s also possible that you’ll experience feeling understood, nurtured, and deeply connected to your partner.
Although being vulnerable with your partner can cause a certain level of anxiety and uncertainty, it can also increase your intimacy and deepen your couple’s connection. Remember that being vulnerable in your relationship isn’t always easy and takes practice and patience. Vulnerability also requires you to release the pain from your past relationship. You have to understand that your current partner isn’t your last partner, so they shouldn’t have to pay for your previous partner’s mistakes.
When you’re vulnerable, you have to be aware that your partner may reject you. However, if they genuinely care about you, they will stay with you, and the two of you can work through the issues together. However, if they choose to walk away from the relationship, they weren’t the one for you, and you should consider it their loss. Also, it would be best if you didn’t take them leaving as a sign that you shouldn’t be vulnerable with anyone else. Being vulnerable isn’t just good for a romantic relationship, but it’s also good for the relationship you have with yourself. It allows you to get to know yourself genuinely. However, when it comes to romantic relationships, the rewards of a stronger couple connection and feeling heard, valued, and understood are well worth the risks.