The Importance of Vulnerability in a Relationship

You may have experienced the sensation of withholding information or feelings from your partner, whether consciously or subconsciously. “Bringing this up will only cause an argument”, you may think. “We’ve talked about this before and nothing good came of it.” Or perhaps “if I tell my partner this, perhaps he will leave me or think less of me”. You find yourself avoiding or ignoring these feelings because you feel they would in some way harm yourself or your relationship. Perhaps if you push these feelings aside they will eventually dissolve and you can go on being happy with your partner.

Unfortunately, negative thoughts and feelings about your relationship typically do not disappear, and avoiding talking about these feelings can breed contempt and resentment, which are known to be predictors of relationships failing. But what now? With this in mind, you’re stuck in this cycle of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

The solution here lies in breaking the cycle of avoidance and fear that arises when sharing your feelings with your partner. It is the fear of what may happen, or what you KNOW will happen when you share these feelings. If only you could share these thoughts without consequences; if only you could be vulnerable.

Therein lies the key; feeling able to be vulnerable with your partner. That is what you crave when you feel the need to tell your partner these thoughts and feelings. Being vulnerable can take on many shapes and forms, but for many people the act of being vulnerable includes sharing feelings that you impulsively hide due to cultural upbringing, societal norms or personal feelings of guilt or weakness. Being vulnerable, in essence, is exposing yourself and your thoughts when your instincts are telling you that doing so may be unsafe.

You may recall that when you were a child you had a much easier time being vulnerable with a parental figure; it came naturally to you. You felt secure that your parent would be there for you when times got rough, when you got scared from exploring, when you had a bad day at school. You were able to be vulnerable with this parent because they are what we refer to as a ‘secure base’.

A secure base offers us a person we can depend upon. You may have some ideas about dependency in relationships, but for now let us entertain the idea that there are only two types of dependence – effective and ineffective.

To have this secure base is an innate survival mechanism for humans. The presence of someone we can depend upon and be vulnerable with offers us comfort, safety and security while the absence of such figures can cause distress. Furthermore, when we feel disconnected to these figures we feel distress, mistrust and guilt about our own emotions.

Now that you understand more about the importance of vulnerability and dependency in relationships it’s time to meet with a professional therapist and start building that secure base. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.


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