There has never been a better time in human history to address the subject of vulnerability than it is today. Living in a society in which personal privacy has become so fragile, one of the most heroic acts is that of exposing our true nature. It goes without saying that although being your authentic self is remarkably satisfying, it comes with great risk and, therefore, takes a lot of courage.
In this article, I would like zoom in a bit more on the subject and share my viewpoints on why I believe vulnerability is an indispensable component to any meaningful relationship, but more specifically your intimate relationships.
Vulnerability allows us to explore new depths
When we think of the word ‘vulnerability’, we usually associate it with weakness, but the fact is that it requires tremendous strength. Being honest and speaking up about how we feel means that we accept the risk of judgment, criticism or – even worse – rejection. As a result, most of us have a tendency to sweep our flaws and imperfections under the rug, more so in the early stages of our intimate relationships. It goes without saying that ‘faking it’ in this way can only be sustained for so long.
In contrast, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in the presence of those we love, we give space and permission for them to do the same. This in turn allows us to engage and connect with each other and explore new depths in our relationship. In other words, for us to truly understand our significant other’s deepest emotions and desires, we have to learn to let our own guards down first.
Vulnerability increases self-worth
If we think about the reason why being vulnerable is so difficult, the straightforward answer might be that we don’t like to be judged or rejected. Sometimes, however, personal growth requires a bit more introspection beyond the superficial.
See, the way we predict and perceive someone’s response to our opinion or confession speaks volumes about how we estimate our self-worth. For instance, people who find it difficult to determine their self-worth are more dependent on the validation of others to approve their viewpoints and behaviors. As a result, opening up about their thoughts and feelings becomes even more frightening, as the quality of their emotional state is dependent on the judgement of others.
Practicing the art of rejection – meaning the art of accepting oneself regardless of the opinion of others – will raise your self-awareness. This allows you to objectively determine and increase your self-worth, which in turn significantly increases your probability to attract the right partner to begin with.
Vulnerability provokes compassion
Whether it is by admitting our shortcomings or sharing our deepest feelings, expressing vulnerability is the best way to accountability and personal introspection. Realizing that we too have our shortcomings helps us to understand and accept the flaws of our significant other. This is why I am convinced that in order to be able to truly build and maintain a healthy relationship, we must first learn to accept and express our own vulnerabilities and shortcomings.
Needless to say, no matter how sunshine and rainbow a relationship may be, there are always times when our patience and level of understanding is put to the test. It is in these moments that our previous capacity to display vulnerability can turn into a display of compassion. Put differently, by remembering that you ain’t perfect, you will be more likely to understand that no one else is either.
Vulnerability eliminates loneliness
No matter where you are in life today, almost everything that has ever happened to you is a reflection of your thoughts. Relationships and the people you attract are no exception. This is why I believe intimacy has to start with you and no one else. I would argue that learning to listen to your gut feeling and trusting your instincts is probably the best course of action to improve the overall quality of your relationships. However, it requires courage and willingness to be honest with oneself first.
Refusing to be vulnerable—whether it is with our own selves or with other people—is equal to creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which misunderstanding and loneliness are at the core. When we pretend to be someone we’re not just for the sake of avoiding disappointment, judgement or rejection, we unconsciously fend off who we truly are. As a logical consequence of our inauthenticity, people will keep their guard up, making it more complicated to create genuine connection.
We feel attracted to whom we can admire, sympathize or resonate with. In simple words, when we expose our true nature and vulnerabilities, we illuminate the way for those with whom we share the same thoughts and values. Why? Because we expose integrity and truth, one of a human being’s basic feelings of safety. Likewise, when we fail to risk everything for truth, we will remain lonely and discontented, as there will be few who will trust us, understand our concerns and even offer support.
Whether we like it or not, human beings are social animals. This means that engaging and connecting with one another is not just a preference but a prerequisite to our wellbeing. In order to increase the quality of our interactions, especially with our significant other, the ability to show vulnerability is one of the most important skills. Yes, there is always the risk of disappointment; yes, there is always the risk of judgement, but just think about the alternative for a second…. If one of the most heroic acts is that of being truly yourself, then I see no reason why you shouldn’t expose your true nature. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.