Vulnerability: The Secret Key To A Long-Lasting Relationship

By

Vulnerability: The Secret Key To A Long-Lasting Relationship
It's the most important ingredient of a trusting, intimate relationship.

While self-sufficiency and autonomy can help us weather the storms of life, they can also rob us of true intimacy. For a relationship to be balanced, partners must be able to depend on one another and feel that they are needed and appreciated for the support they give. If we have been let down in the past, the prospect of needing someone can be frightening. Opening up to our partner can make us feel vulnerable and exposed, but it is the most important ingredient of a trusting, intimate relationship.

Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness, but it's actually a strength. Dr. Brené Brown, a renowned expert on vulnerability, explains that it's really about "sinking into" the joyful moments in life — daring to show up and let ourselves be seen. She writes, "When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives."

 

In her landmark book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Given this definition, the act of falling in love is the ultimate risk. Love is uncertain. It's inherently risky because our partner could leave without a moment's notice, betray us or stop loving us. Dr. Brown cautions us that putting ourselves out there also means there's a greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt.

Take a moment to consider that you might be sabotaging relationship after relationship if you don't get to the root of your fear of being vulnerable. If you are afraid of showing weakness or exposing yourself to your partner, you might not be aware that your fear is preventing you from being totally engaged in the relationship. You might be freezing out the opportunity for love because you are afraid to let your authentic self shine and to share your innermost thoughts, feelings, and wishes.

What drives your fear of being vulnerable with your partner?

  • Are you fearful of exposing parts of your personality that your partner may find unacceptable?
  • Does keeping a distance make you feel safe and in control of your emotions?    
  • Are feelings of shame stopping you from exposing your true feelings or talking about tough topics?
  • Do you fear that your partner will abandon or betray you?

For many, a fear of intimacy may translate into testing a relationship by picking a partner who is wrong for them — people play it safe by distancing themselves. One of the first questions I ask my clients is, "What is it that stops you from being vulnerable and intimate with your partner?" Notice that I don't ask, "What do you think your partner should do differently?"

Surprisingly, most individuals answer, "I'm not sure." My response is that it's time to examine their fear of vulnerability and the ways they might be sabotaging their relationships. Keep reading...

More relationships advice from YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Terry Gaspard

Author

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist, author, and college instructor. Her book "Daughters of Divorce" which she wrote with her daughter Tracy will be published by Sourcebooks in the fall of 2015. Terry and Tracy offer a healing community about divorce related issues at movingpastdivorce.com.  Terry is also a regular contributor to Huffington Post Divorce and DivorcedMoms.com. She is a sought after speaker on divorce and relationship issues. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Location: Portsmouth, RI
Credentials: LICSW
Other Articles/News by Terry Gaspard:

10 Questions Every Single Parent MUST Ask A New Partner

By

Dating after divorce can be exciting, but when you have children it's a risky proposition. Over and over again, I see single mom and single dad clients leap headlong into a new relationship—even move in with someone—only to face a disastrous breakup a short while afterward.  While it's normal to seek solace, companionship and a ... Read more

6 Reasons Why Being Friends With Your Ex Probably Won't Work

By

As a therapist, I've spent a lot of time explaining to my divorced clients why trying to remain friends with their ex can be problematic. Let's face it, many people are not emotionally ready or simply don't want to know how to move on after a breakup and believe that preserving a friendship with their ex (assuming there was one) is useful. While ... Read more

Keeping Secrets? It's Probably Going To Destroy Your Relationship

By

Many of my clients tell me they keep secrets from their partner because they think telling the truth will make things worse. Or they believe that their significant other simply couldn't handle the truth and that it might end the relationship. For instance, Kerry never told Brad that she was married briefly in her early twenties even though they've ... Read more

See More

 
Latest Expert Videos
ASK YOURTANGO MORE QUESTIONS
Must-see Videos
SEE MORE VIDEOS
Most Popular