Vulnerability in Relationships

We are all human and we long for closeness and connection. In order to get the love we long for, it requires us to step out of our comfort box, take a risk, and possibly encounter getting hurt from time to time. The photo from the #BeingLOVEDIs campaign, created by Jennine Estes MFT, shows a woman expressing that #BeingLOVEDIs getting hurt.

being loved is getting hurt

We are human. We are imperfect. We have the capacity to love but, I repeat – we are imperfect. Because of this, getting hurt is inevitable. Therefore, because we know this, love becomes risky. Because of this risk, the choice to love and to be loved requires vulnerability. And the extent to which we are willing to be vulnerable is the extent to which we will experience the intimacy of love.

As Brene Brown has said before, we often hold back from loving wholeheartedly out of fear that we will get hurt. But then we are hurt by isolation. We are suddenly faced with two options: taking the risk to love and be in relationship or protect ourselves from getting hurt by choosing isolation. But what we fail to recognize in our attempts to protect ourselves is that getting hurt is inevitable. No matter what extend we are willing to go to protect ourselves, even complete isolation results in pain.

Vulnerability is not easy. It requires honesty – honesty with how we’re feeling, what we want, what we need, what we fear, etc. Without vulnerability, a barricade is built between each partner. And though it may be something that is difficult, it will promote an intricate and irreplaceable intimacy. Often we want intimacy but are not willing to put in the grunt work. Vulnerability is hard work but what you gain from it is utterly worth it.

How do you build the safety that allows for vulnerability?

Follow through with what you say

If you tell your partner that you will be home by 8:00pm, come home no later than 8:00pm. If you are going to be late, call and let him or her know ahead of time. When your partner learns he can trust you on small issues like when you’ll be home for dinner, it makes it easier for him to start to trust you on bigger issues too.

Don’t be unrealistic

Avoid saying that you will “always” have your cell phone on or you will “never” turn your phone off. This is unrealistic. Sometimes your phone will die or you might forget it or just not hear it ring. Instead, tell your partner that you will try your best to answer the phone. And then… follow through with what you say.

Let your partner in

If you have an emotional wall up, you will hide things and this creates a suspicious feeling within your partner. Avoid the suspicious behavior and be an open book. The more open you are, the more trust you can build.

Keep your eyes on your goal

Body language speaks louder than words… and so does your eye focus. If you are talking to your partner and a beautiful woman walks by, keep your eyes on your partner. If your goal is to build trust, then your actions have to show it. Letting your eyes wander will only make your partner feel self-conscious and arise suspicions about how you act when the two of you are not together.

Make time for communication

Communication can create a safe and comfortable feeling in your relationship. The more you communication how you are feeling, both good and bad, the more your partner can trust that you will always bring up issues that matter and speak openly about problems.

Building trust can involve a variety of issues within the relationship. If you have a history of broken trust in your relationship, it might take more than practicing these behaviors to restore it. You will have to resolve the past so it doesn’t interfere with your current behaviors. Working with a professional therapist can help; a counselor will listen to both sides of the story and help you work together to establish guidelines for your relationship that create safety and trust. I would like to help you work on building a secure foundation in your relationship through couples counseling/therapy. Give me a call to schedule an appointment (619) 558-0001.

Call or text us at Estes Therapy

Call us at 619-558-0001 today to get started on the process. Trying to find out what might be some of the blocks keeping you from finding a partner can make a big difference.

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Jennine Estes

Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA.