Is Emotional Vulnerability Necessary in order to Have a Strong Relationship With Someone?

The other day, I was having a long-due conversation with my friend, (we’ll assume that this friend is female, and refer to her as “Friend X”) and something she said stuck in my mind, repeatedly popping up in the midst of my thoughts.

I was telling her how I felt strange sometimes because I often turn to her when I need advice or want to vent about something, but she scarcely opens up to me about her own issues. Her response was that she “doesn’t really tell anyone about a lot of his problems”, and she “would prefer not to talk about his personal life and what she was thinking a lot”.

That made me wonder, is showing emotional vulnerability necessary in order to develop a strong relationship with a friend or family member?

There are a few people — like Friend X — who I’m close to in a way that I can say almost anything to them without fear of judgement. Whenever I confide in them about something serious, I feel as though they’ve scooped out a part of me — I feel raw, in a strangely refreshing way. And each time they scoop out a part of me, they pull me a little closer to them.

On the other hand, I have a group people in my life that I enjoy spending time with, but would never be able to open up to so honestly. I still love these people — I can laugh out loud with them, talk to them for hours, and tell them things that I wouldn’t tell a mere acquaintance — but I could never spill to them about things that I am truly afraid they will judge me for.

So I guess it depends on how you personally define a “strong relationship.” For me, it’s when you can be yourself around that person; when you can tell them almost anything; when your bond with that person is something that will last, no matter what. And I can’t feel that way about anyone until I show them vulnerability. I can’t feel that way about anyone until I say to them, “Here! This is me! I’m screwed up and weird and flawed!” and they reply with, “That’s okay, I’m still right here beside you.”

~Pramika S. Kadari