The Courage to be Vulnerable

“Big boys don’t cry!”

“Don’t open yourself up. Keep your guard up because someone might hurt you”

“Be strong and don’t become too emotional”.How often have you heard these statements?

The attitude that these statements represent — don’t be vulnerable — may be helpful in your work life, but may contribute to a disaster in your personal life.

Taking the risk to be vulnerable with your spouse is the key ingredient to developing greater intimacy and passion within a committed relationship. Being vulnerable usually has a negative connotation in our culture; it’s considered a weakness. But when it comes to the context of an intimate relationship it’s the opposite because the greater the level of vulnerability the stronger and more intimate the relationship.

You would think that if a couple loves each other and has been together for years that there would exist a high degree of vulnerability between them. This usually isn’t the case. The big inhibiting reason is the fear of getting hurt. They have been hurt by being vulnerable in their past experience with people who they thought loved them and who they trusted. One experience of being rejected and hurt is enough for someone not to take the risk of being vulnerable again.

Another fear that blocks taking the risk is the fear of abandonment: “If I tell you everything about me you won’t like me and then you will leave me. Therefore, I don’t tell you everything about me so you stick around. But, I know that you don’t really love me because you don’t really know everything about me.”

The fastest way to become vulnerable in a relationship is to verbally express your emotions about whatever you are experiencing.

All through the day I am asked,
“So how is it going Dan?”
In a non-vulnerable way I respond with; “Oh it’s going pretty good. How about you?”
“Not bad”
“Well that’s nice, have a nice day.”

I go through this kind of exchange all the time, but if I were going to be vulnerable it might sound more like;
“How is it going Dan?”
“Well I am feeling kind of depressed and insecure today.”

The receiver of this kind of response probably would walk away as soon as possible not knowing what to do with this kind of communication or response.

But when I get home from work and my wife asks me how I am doing I better not respond with: “Well the same old same old, another day of problems, nothing new.”
With this kind of response I am not telling her my emotional experience. At this rate we would probably become roommates as opposed to lovers over time.

So remember, it takes courage to be emotionally vulnerable but the reward is that you keep the passion alive in your relationship for a long time.

For more information related to this blog check out my book, Creating the Intimate Connection

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