Most people fear vulnerability. We open ourselves up to disappointment, hurt, pain and rejection. Vulnerability also makes us look weak and needy, or worse, desperate and pathetic! We always want to portray ourselves as strong and independent, capable of being happy and successful even without a man (or woman) by our side. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But if we’re in a relationship, the walls we build around ourselves, the distancing from our partner, and the closing off of authentic feelings will eventually have disastrous effects on us and our bond with our partner.
The fear of vulnerability usually comes from previous traumatic experiences in childhood that have caused us much pain. But even adults who grew up in warm and loving households learn to shield themselves when they have gone through a tempestuous intimate relationship that left them trampled on, spurned and deeply hurt.
Most times, we are vulnerable, but we take great pains to hide it. We want to be in control and being vulnerable is a sign that we are not as powerful as we want to be. We don’t want to risk revealing our true emotions because when things go wrong, the wounds cut more deeply than if we had maintained an aloof and invincible demeanor.
But in doing so, we are actually missing a lot of opportunities to form closer ties and raise the quality of our relationship. We increase our risk for physical and mental conditions, such as hypertension, heart problems, anxiety and depression. Our overall happiness and satisfaction level is not as high as it should be.
Related reading: 15 Quotes About Rejection that Will Give You Strength
Dr. Brene Brown, an expert on vulnerability, is an advocate for this much maligned and misunderstood human quality. According to her, “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity…” To learn to be vulnerable and begin opening ourselves up and risk rejection and uncertainty, here are some myths that must be dispelled:
Vulnerability is a sign of weakness. And because we want to be seen as strong, we walk away from a relationship out of fear of being hurt. Being vulnerable is a sign of courage instead, when we are willing to take the risk by showing our true self, and determining if the relationship still has meaning to our life.
We have the choice to avoid vulnerability. The truth is, life itself is vulnerable. We may fake our nonchalance, but we can’t run away from vulnerability. We pretend a brave front and only cry when we’re alone.
Vulnerability is being a drama queen and acting out. It’s not. Ironically, it’s having boundaries and trust that enables us to be vulnerable.
In lieu of vulnerability, we can choose to be alone and independent. Man is a social being and while it is possible to be alone, without a partner or close friends, our life will be lonely and sad.
So, how does vulnerability strengthen our relationship?
- We are comfortable revealing our genuine self. We can be honest and candid. When we don’t have to hide behind a mask all the time, we become happier and more content, making our relationships better.
- We are open to help from others. In return, we also learn how to help others, and this cultivates empathy and compassion, which extends to our partner.
- Our chances of living a more authentic life is enhanced and this allows us to find our spiritual dimension and forge deeper connection with our partner. In this respect, vulnerability is courage, fortitude and resilience, not weakness.