Vulnerability in Dating Relationships
One major issue in relationships nowadays (and not only) is the fear of being vulnerable. We think that, if we show our weaknesses, other people might like us less, might look down on us, and they might even hurt us, making us feeling miserable. Therefore, we tend to rise walls between ourselves and everyone else, wear all kinds of masks to appear big and strong (how many of you, when asked “How are you?”, really tell the truth? The typical answer, “I’m fine, thank you”, comes out in a reflex before we even have a chance to think if we really are fine or there is something we’re actually struggling with). Everybody is trying to show their best side, the best aspects of their lives and personality, and it takes a great deal of time and effort to really know someone with the good, the bad and the ugly in their lives.
The key to having authentic relationships is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Being vulnerable here is not a synonym with weakness, on the contrary — it implies having the courage to be yourself — even if this means being silly sometimes, or doing stupid things. The imperfections are what make each person unique, and trying to appear perfect will only put a huge weight on our shoulders. It’s pretty tiring to have to act to the standard of your mask all the time, to always act smart, cool, calm and collected, even if deep down we may be scared or uninformed or maybe just plain tired. Many people believe that if they appear strong, smart and perfect, people will admire them and will want to be around them. In reality, this mask has just the opposite effect: people can feel inauthenticity in other people and will stay away from it.
People who can recognize their mistakes, who don’t beat around the bush when they have something to say, are proven to have a higher level of well-being and also better relationships. That’s because being imperfect and down-to-earth is appealing and comfortable for people, as it gives them permission and space to be the same.
Being vulnerable is highly attractive, because authenticity lets people know your true self and know exactly “who they’re dealing with”. Vulnerability is openness to experiences, people and uncertainty. It’s terrifying at times, as it can sometimes get us hurt – that’s why it takes a great amount of strength, courage, self-confidence and a strong character to show it. If you wonder if it’s worth taking the risk, of course it does — because even when you get rejected, that’s the best sign that you don’t need that person in your life. Why would you live an inauthentic life trying to please people who wouldn’t even like you otherwise? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone to just be the real you and make strong connections with people who will like you for who you truly are? If you can show your weaknesses to your partner and they love you still, that’s true love. If you only show them your polished side, afraid they’ll leave you if you show them any bad side, then you’re in a bit of trouble, as you will always wonder: “What would happen if they got to know the real, the complete you?”
Consequently, being open and vulnerable is the best way to go towards having a strong relationship, that’s based on mutual trust and love. One must accept that they, just like everyone else, have good and bad sides, good and bad days, and good and bad moods. There’s no point in trying to appear happy and sunny all the time (when the reality of life shows both sunny and cloudy days, and even thunderstorms from time to time). The best way to live fully is to accept our shadow, make it our friend and let it strengthen our relationships. Without vulnerability, connections with people tend to feel colder and struggle. Being vulnerable, showing our affection, fears and even sharing some secrets, means that we also trust the other person a lot — and will often be returned with understanding and a mutual sharing of personal experiences. This is what drives people close, it helps build trust and a sense of belonging. Knowing that someone is still our friend/lover, even when they know our weaknesses is one of life’s most fulfilling experiences, as it gives a sense of security we will never achieve in any shallow relationship.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable makes us better friends/partners
Exposing our true authentic puts us at risk of being judged, criticized or even rejected. But knowing the fears that come with vulnerability, we can have a lot more empathic attitude towards the people who come and open up to us. Knowing how it feels, we will not be tempted to bully or make fun of their feelings or concerns. We will be able to give comfort and some wise words when needed, because we will appreciate the courage it took that person to come up to you and share their most intimate thoughts with us. It’s the safest place where you we be with someone, knowing that we can be afraid with them and they can be afraid with us — and that’s okay.
These being said, we should never be afraid to openly communicate our feelings, especially with our partner. This will only help our relationships grow stronger and will increase the connection between us. Often times, opening a “touchy” subject like one’s frustrations can be more difficult to address than just keeping the peace, but while keeping frustrations will only cause harm over time, whereas talking about them can help “clear the air” and can also lead to a greater deal of intimacy and the will to find solutions that can fit both partners, in a way that frustrations are avoided as much as possible. Vulnerability takes a lot of courage, but on the long run it’s highly rewarded and will only lead to more opening, more intimacy and more quality in all our relationships.