What Does It Mean To Be Vulnerable in a Relationship?
By Isabel Frank William
Relationships are a significant part of our lives, if not the most important one. We are always looking for someone to share our biggest dreams and hopes, and we try so hard to make it work. However, there comes a time when we do find that person, and we are unable to open up and be completely honest. Whether it is the fear of getting hurt, not trusting enough, or simply our nature, that is when things can go downhill. The real reason is that we are afraid to be vulnerable. This means that besides sharing trivialities about our lives, we can share more significant stories, fears, and not be afraid to have tough conversations. Many may see this as a flaw and a weakness, but it is far from that because being vulnerable is the only way you will get that long-lasting, ride or die relationship.
Don’t hide the past
At the beginning of a relationship, we share a lot of the things from our past, but those mostly include our embarrassing moments, pets and friends from childhood, and maybe a detail or two about our recent past. And this is a good strategy to get to know someone, and it's ok to be cautious at the beginning. However, when we get deep into a relationship, owning our past, not being ashamed of it, and not trying to hide it is crucial. This way, we are showing our partner that we are over something, that we have grown, learned, or even changed. And you can be sure that you will both appreciate it, and that you will build a stronger relationship.
Include your partner in different aspects of your life
Getting into a relationship when we already had long relationships before, marriages, and even children is tricky and challenging. But does it have to be? This is a part of your past that you can never hide, and it is best to talk about it early on. Letting your partner be a part of your child's life is pretty hard, and that is why, if you let yourself be vulnerable, at times you will manage to do it. Don't think it will happen overnight because that type of bonding can last for years. However, you can start with small steps that will make everybody comfortable. When you are comfortable enough, let them be a part of the kids’ early learning at home, and that way, they can even help and be included in the education process. Your partner and your child can even do some chores together, go grocery shopping, or bond over shared interests. The important thing to remember is that you shouldn't push it and try too hard because it can have the opposite effect.
Express your feelings
If somebody asked you if you express your feelings in a relationship, you would probably say that you do. However, we have all been in a situation when we decide not to share something, or we don't want to be needy and clingy. This primarily comes from all those stories that tell us how nobody likes to chase, rather, we all like to be chased. A healthy, strong and mature relationship disregards all that and makes you feel safe to express how you feel at all times. Nobody is a mind reader, and if you want your partner to know something, you will just have to go ahead and say it. Being vulnerable in this situation means that you trust your partner enough, and that is the basis of every relationship.
Make small steps
You can't learn how to let yourself be vulnerable overnight. Any change takes time, and the best way to achieve that is to go slowly and make small steps. We have already mentioned that owning your past and expressing feelings will go a long way, but what else can you do? Focusing on the present will help you be vulnerable in a healthy way. It will do good for your relationship, and it will shift the focus from living in the past or worrying about the future. You should also enjoy all the positive "side effects" of being vulnerable, which are closeness and comfort you will feel. Over time, you and your partner will become more in touch with each other's feelings and will understand your needs better.
Like with any other thing in your life, practicing vulnerability is important as well. You can start by getting to know yourself first because that is the only way you will be able to communicate your own feelings. Before you bluntly say something, organize your thoughts, which will help your partner understand you. When you decide to act on it, be specific. Don't sugarcoat things, and be honest even if it means having to ask for attention or tenderness. Talking about mistakes is also an important part of the process. Your partner will probably relate, and you will show that you are capable of self-reflection. Even if it is about small, trivial things, it's a step forward. Learning how to be vulnerable is a skill that takes time, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the process.
Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness. If fact, all your fears of being hurt are better dealt with if you know how the other person feels from the start. It just means you are capable of recognizing your emotions and sharing them. And all that will surely make your relationship stronger.