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  • What Does It Mean to Be Vulnerable in a Relationship?

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    What Does It Mean to Be Vulnerable in a Relationship?

    What is vulnerability?

    Being vulnerable in your relationship is sharing what’s really real to you.

    It’s sharing your thoughts and feelings, which can be joyous, anxious, or sad. You are allowing your partner to see into you.

    A cheesy definition of intimacy in couples therapy circles is intimacy = into-you-I-see…

    If we are aware of what we think and feel and share that judiciously, we create emotional intimacy. (To become more aware of thoughts and feelings, try the feeling log in this blog post).

    Vulnerability gives your partner something to connect with, and it can create a comfortable ecosystem in your relationship.

    Vulnerability also creates space for each partner to be human.

    As humans, we are inherently imperfect, and sharing what we may see as imperfections is a way to connect.

    For example, if I’m feeling bad about myself or a mistake I made, sharing that with my partner lightens the load.

    Being affirmed by your partner when you share vulnerability creates a deep connection.

    It affirms the relationship as if stating, “We are in this together.”

    This releases stress and lifts me from shame. It reminds me that we are imperfect humans, and that’s OK.

    Sharing what’s below anger = vulnerability

    Another way of looking at vulnerability is reaching for what’s below our anger and sharing that instead of anger.

    As we know, anger is a secondary emotion. It usually protects a vulnerable feeling or feelings.

    What if we could pause and share that vulnerable feeling instead of anger? Then you would be getting somewhere and wouldn’t need a couples therapist or couples therapy at least not for very long.

    If we share our vulnerable feelings instead of anger, our partner can hear that and respond. If we share our anger, our partner will defend themselves from the anger, and it will become about you two as individuals instead of you two as a team.

    Example

    Say your partner forgot your birthday (hopefully this is not actually the case…)

    Responding from anger: “I can’t believe you forgot it; don’t you care about me!”

    Vulnerability: “It really hurt when you forgot my birthday.”

    Here’s a bonus: share your vulnerability and a request (help your partner help you). “It really hurt when you forgot my birthday, I would like you to make it up to me.”

    Conclusion

    In relationships, vulnerability is the foundation of emotional intimacy.

    It allows you two to really be seen and accepted for who you are: an imperfect human being.

    If we share what we are thinking and feeling judiciously, we will know what’s going on with our partner. If we don’t know how our partner is doing, we tend to assume, and when we assume, we usually assume something is wrong.

    So, by sharing vulnerability, you invite your partner into your inner world.

    This reduces stress and strengthens the relationship reinforcing the fact that you two are in it together.

    If you’d like to have more vulnerability in your relationship, contact us today to set up a free initial consultation with one of our couples therapists.

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