It can be difficult to fully open up to someone. It can be hard to be your authentic self and let someone fully in for fear of not being accepted. When you let someone fully in to see your true self you become vulnerable. Being vulnerable can cause feelings of anxiety because when you are vulnerable with someone then they have the ability to hurt you. Vulnerability may challenge our innate need to protect ourselves.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with someone can also bring great happiness and interpersonal connection. Being truly seen by someone else, for who you are in all your authenticity, can bring great joy and a deep sense of affirmation into your life. Vulnerability is honesty, honesty about who you are to your core. Vulnerability and honesty are what allows intimacy within relationships. So how do you start to be vulnerable with a partner and how do you push past the fear of being vulnerable? A great place to start is by being honest with the people you are close to, such as partners, family and friends. Practice by being honest about the simple things in life such as what you want to eat, what show you want to watch, or laugh at the jokes that are actually funny, etc. Start small, and if you feel you can be yourself and be honest about these things, and you build trust with your partner, then you can slowly start opening up about the more difficult things.
Trust, honesty and vulnerability are closely connected. To be honest and vulnerable you must have trust within your relationship, and to build trust you must be willing to be honest and vulnerable. Trust, honesty, and vulnerability within a relationship can increase emotional and physical fulfillment. You and your partner(s) being able to be your authentic selves in your relationship can foster a closer, more intimate, connection. You will know who you are loving and your partner will know who they are loving. This will also help couples navigate through the inevitable difficult times within all relationships because of the strong foundation of trust, honesty, and vulnerability that was built from the start of the relationship. All of this takes a lot of emotional bandwidth, so I encourage you to approach this journey slowly, deliberately, and intentionally. It takes time to build trust. Relationships are all different. Something that we could all strive for to be the same is the fact that the relationship will be built on trust, honesty and vulnerability. Hopefully having happier and healthier relationships.
–Emily Barlow, LMFT
Emily Barlow is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in North Carolina and a former therapist at Carolina Sexual Wellness Center. To schedule an appointment with any of the therapists at CSWC, call 919-297-8322.