Vulnerability is beautiful. But many believe it reflects a weakness in character. However, when you’re vulnerable, you open yourself to the raw, authentic parts of this world and learn how to trust yourself and others on a deeper level. Yet discovering how to be more vulnerable in a relationship can be intimidating. Depending on your emotional wounds and trauma, you may even avoid it entirely. Don’t fear; this article will teach you how to be more vulnerable so you achieve more genuine and healthier relationships.
Why Vulnerability in Relationships Is Important
Vulnerability is key to developing strong, intimate, deep, and beautiful relationships. Without it, relationships remain on the surface; they don’t progress or evolve. Indeed, as scary as it feels to express your needs to your partner, doing so provides many benefits like the following.
- Reduces conflict
- Builds your bond
- Strengthens communication
- Improves your self-worth and confidence
- Encourages authenticity and genuineness
- Strengthens your self-awareness
- Reduces feelings of shame from opening up
- Builds emotional intelligence and emotional regulation
- Grows resilience and ability to bounce back from obstacles
How To Be More Vulnerable In a Relationship
1. Know your triggers
The first step to learning how to be more vulnerable in a relationship involves exploring your inner world. For example, knowing your triggers, what sets off your reactions, and your emotional wounds. To start, tune into your body and your emotions. Perhaps your partner forgets to take out the trash. Instead of immediately reacting, pause and ask yourself, “How do I feel?” Then label your emotion “I feel angry” and ask yourself why. You can’t be more vulnerable with others without discovering your true self and knowing what situations trigger your emotions.
2. Express your needs
After allowing time to check in with yourself, labeling your emotions, and discovering everyday anxiety triggers, start expressing your needs. It can feel powerful to release what’s inside. Did your partner hurt your feelings this morning? Tell them and say, “I felt hurt by your comment”. Now, it may be nerve-wracking to voice your concerns, especially if it’s foreign. Therefore, go slow and practice in less intimidating situations. For example, if you don’t like your meal at a restaurant, tell your waiter. Or tell your friend how much you miss and want to see them. Practicing will help build your confidence to express your needs.
3. Accept the risk
Unfortunately, vulnerability comes with a risk. You might get hurt. That’s why many are afraid to express their needs and emotions. The other party may not accept them with loving arms as they hope. But don’t let this factor deter you from growing. In fact, the more you open yourself, the more resilient and confident you become with the outcome. You learn and accept there will always be a risk. Therefore, practice acceptance of this truth and your resulting emotions.
4. Adopt ways to cope
The act of being vulnerable with yourself and within a relationship may stir up some painful memories or discomfort. When it occurs, arm yourself with a self-care routine and self-soothing techniques to relieve the pain. Listen to guided meditations for sleep to combat anxiety, practice therapeutic writing exercises for adults to vent, or learn how to stop negative self-talk with cognitive behavior tools and affirmations. Each time you’re vulnerable, practice giving yourself mindful attention to understand the emotions that arise, then use your calming toolkit.
5. Acknowledge your part
Relationships take two to tango. So, for the relationship to grow, both parties need to acknowledge their mistakes. And taking accountability for your mistakes and actions involves vulnerability. Indeed, it’s not always easy to admit when we’ve hurt someone. We may follow up their vulnerability with defensiveness. But letting go of your morals and instead delivering empathy and compassion is one of the core values of emotional intelligence. Therefore, learn how to apologize to strengthen your connections, grow from your mistakes, express remorse, and offer to make amends.
6. Mindfully listen
This article wouldn’t involve vulnerability if it didn’t include the importance of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the gift that keeps giving. It allows us to show up presently, exuding more compassion and awareness to understand our emotions and the emotions of others. Moreover, in the context of sharing your feelings within a relationship, mindfully listening delivers respect. This means putting down your phone, listening to the other party’s words instead of waiting for your turn to speak, and pausing before reacting. While it’s not always easy, it’s a tool that will certainly boost your personal and professional relationships.
7. Heal your attachment
Your fear of getting hurt, people-pleasing, and abandonment stems from your childhood trauma and resulting attachment patterns. While the topic of attachment has evolved, legendary psychologists like John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s groundbreaking theories have helped us understand ourselves and our relationships more profoundly. Therefore, it’s important to understand yours and how it affects your world. Here are the main four with signs to help you reflect (Note, these attachment styles involve more signs – we’re just summarizing them for the purposes of this post):
- Secure. You’re comfortable expressing your emotions, trust others, and don’t seek external validation.
- Avoidant. You avoid emotional intimacy, struggle to trust others and keep your relationships at arm’s length to subconsciously protect yourself.
- Anxious. You’re highly sensitive to criticism, fear rejection, and often blame yourself for challenges that arise within relationships.
- Disorganized. You show signs of both avoidant and anxious styles and often push your partners away due to a fear of rejection.
8. Schedule regular check-ins
You’d be surprised, but penciling time within your busy weeks to talk openly and honestly is key to effective relationships. For example, schedule at least 30 minutes to ask questions that allow each party to share their feelings in a safe space. What do you wish we could improve on this week? Went well this week and poorly? What do you need more of? As you practice this tool that builds emotional awareness on both ends, learn how to set boundaries about what you’re comfortable sharing as you progress.
Remember, learning how to be more vulnerable in a relationship is a process, not an overnight transformation. It starts with discovering more about yourself, your wounds, and what you need to live your best life. Therefore, it’s an act of liberation that encourages you to show up in the world as your true self, authentic and genuine. Positive results will follow when you learn to love the person you are.
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