Why do many people find giving their heart fully to someone so scary? What is the fear of opening up to their partner?
In current times we’re seeing more loneliness and more unhappy, disconnected relationships. But why is this?
Three words: “Fear of Vulnerability”.
And it’s not surprising that there is this fear… If you Google the meaning of the word “vulnerability,” a common definition is “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/vulnerability)
But let’s consider this… Is vulnerability, in the context of a relationship, really such a “bad” thing?
As peculiar as this might sound, vulnerability is an essential part of a loving, close relationship. However, unfortunately, over the years, we’ve turned the brave and tender act of being vulnerable into a weakness and turned guardedness into a strength. We’ve created a deep-seated fear around it, due to the lack of control and uncertainty of what it might lead to and the perceived pain associated with opening up to someone and being hurt.
If being vulnerable to your partner is causing you worry and ultimately leaving you feeling disconnected from your partner, you’re not alone. Nonetheless, everything in life starts with connection and this includes your relationship with your partner. Of course, there are times to be guarded, but there are also times to be vulnerable. Vulnerability increases your sense of worthiness and authenticity, which is necessary to allow you to be totally engaged in your relationship. It’s therefore vital that your fearful thoughts and feelings about vulnerability are examined.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~ Brené Brown
If you’ve been following me for some time, you’ll know I’m all about directing you TOWARDS your empowerment. Vulnerability is such an empowering act and is the driving force of connection. Therefore, I’m going to show you how to acknowledge your fears and anxieties around being vulnerable, to leave you understanding that:
- Vulnerability is actually a strength
- You can be confident in accepting and embracing the risk of vulnerability
- Your relationship can improve and you can live a life aligned with your authentic self by being vulnerable
You see, we make a true relationship connection when our heart touches another heart. A heart to heart connection is where there is love, understanding, compassion, kindness, and trust. However, even with great love and caring, differences and conflicts arise in every relationship and heart to heart connections can make us feel vulnerable and expose us to our partner’s judgments. As tension and strain develop, this can cause disconnection rather than a connection, robbing us of true intimacy.
If you are experiencing a disconnection in your relationship, vulnerability is a bridge to rebuilding the connection and closeness with your partner. You may have been hurt, disappointed and heartbroken, time and time again. It is therefore understandable and natural that opening yourself back up to a partner who has caused you pain, or remembering the hurtful experiences of a difficult past relationship, are likely to bring about some long-standing fears and anxieties.
Create a list of fears and anxieties
So what can you do if you’re gripped by fear and anxiety or feel unable to risk being vulnerable with your partner?
Firstly, you need to become aware of your feelings and acknowledge them. Fear doesn’t go away on its own and a helpful way to acknowledge it is to create a list of at least 5 fears and anxieties you have about being vulnerable and opening yourself up to your partner. Start the sentence with: “I’m afraid that…”
Whilst completing your list, you will probably have thoughts of “What if I get betrayed again? What if I get hurt? What if my newfound passion and hope to improve my relationship is used against me to control me?”
It’s totally okay to ask these questions. It’s human nature to want to protect ourselves from being hurt or disappointed and why would we want to experience this emotional pain again?
However, withdrawing your heart while staying in a disconnected relationship is not the answer. It is not the way to protect yourself. Will you get hurt if you let yourself feel again in your relationship, despite the pain and upset? Sure, there is a chance you could do, but not necessarily.
Here’s a question for you… What is the biggest risk worth taking? Striving for love and happiness or staying in an unhappy, lonely, empty and unfulfilled relationship that may not improve?
By facing your fears and anxieties about being vulnerable, you will notice you are a whole lot stronger than you thought you were and if things don’t go exactly right, you can still survive. You’ll also realize that the pain you experience from anticipating a worrying event is almost always worse than the pain associated with the dreaded event itself – that is, if it ever actually happens.
The empowering way to respond to the question “What if I get hurt?” is: “If my partner does do something negative or hurtful when I open up and let myself care again, I may feel pained and extremely upset, but I will survive. I will dust myself off and give it another go. It may take some time but I’m fully committed”.
[IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE: If you ever find yourself in a situation where your partner is emotionally, mentally or physically abusive, take immediate action to protect yourself and anyone else involved by finding a safe environment to stay, using all means necessary.]
In all reality, when we move into a position that involves emotion, caring, sharing and reaching out to another person, vulnerability is present. However, by accepting the risk of vulnerability, you have the opportunity to have the loving, fulfilled, intimate relationship you desire as opposed to hurting with no chance of having your dream.
By simply trusting yourself to be able to handle whatever your partner may do regarding your relationship, allowing yourself to feel again and believing that your relationship can improve, you can start to rebuild the connection between you both.
Here are 4 ways to help you begin to mindfully observe and examine your fearful, anxious thoughts about vulnerability nonjudgmentally so that they do not run automatically in your mind:
- Observe your feelings and emotions as they happen without judgment
- Notice your thoughts that happen as a result of these feelings and emotions. Ask yourself “Is this thought serving me? How do I feel about it?” Rate how strongly you feel the emotion on a scale of 1–10, with 1 being the mildest feeling and 10 the most intense
- Replace judgmental thoughts with non-judgmental ones, such as “It’s okay for me to feel the way I do right now” or “These feelings are neither right nor wrong and will go away when they need to”
- Continue to consciously observe feelings as they happen and any thoughts that may arise that contain judgments.
It can be easy to allow your fears and anxieties to stop you from working towards your relationship goals and dreams. However, you will go far when fear and anxiety are no longer present and you allow yourself to have the strength to completely reveal layers of yourself and be loved for who you are. While it can be a little terrifying at times, choosing to be vulnerable and then accepting it as the way you are feeling can be one of life’s most fulfilling, exciting and empowering experiences and one that transforms your relationship.
I truly hope you found this article valuable in some way. And if you have the time to do so, please share on your social media accounts, as you never know who would benefit from it as well! After all #SharingIsCaring
Wishing you the love, connection, and happiness you desire and deserve.
Teresha, The Confidence Restyler™ Xx