No one likes to be vulnerable — at least not at first. Trying to let down your guard with someone you care so much about feels like skydiving without a parachute. I’m not going to promise that opening up will make your partner love you even more or that you won’t be judged, but I do promise you that if you don’t let yourself be more vulnerable in relationships, you’ll never have one that lasts.
Relationships mean sharing, and not just a meal or even an apartment. You’ve got to share your emotions, your fears, your hopes and dreams. It’s hard to share a life with someone when all you really know is their name. It’s okay, though — vulnerability takes time and when you start, you’ll realize just how good it can feel.
- Share a little at a time. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you have to be an open book tomorrow. Share a hidden interest or tell him how you feel about him. It all starts with one small thing. The rest will come as you get more comfortable.
- Share a secret with them. No, you don’t have to tell your partner every single secret about you. Start with an embarrassing story from your childhood or how you’ve never told anyone how terrified you are of unicorns. It’s hard sharing a secret, but you’ll feel better when you do.
- Invite them to try something you love. You’re probably most comfortable when you’re doing something you truly love. Show your partner this side of you. It doesn’t matter what he thinks about it; the point is to let him into your life more fully.
- Explain why you’re holding back. Maybe you tried the whole vulnerability thing and got taken advantage of. No one’s going to fault you for being frustrated and more guarded because of it. However, I hate to tell you, but you’re going have to do it again if you’re serious about someone new. Let your partner help you out. Tell him about your past experiences so that he can prove to you he’s not like others in your past.
- Start being yourself. The easiest way to be more vulnerable is to simply be yourself. I know it’s not technically easy to wipe away the mask you show the world, but just do a little at a time. As you see that others accept you for who you are, you’ll feel more confident and less afraid of vulnerability. Remember, if you love someone, they to see the real you. The sooner you show yourself, the sooner you can tell if that person is right for you.
- Decide if he’s worth getting hurt over. I’m not exactly a heart on my sleeve kind of person. I prefer only opening up to those who I care about most. This means deciding if that person is worth getting hurt over. Basically, if you truly care, you discover the risk is worth taking.
- Let go of the past. We’ve all been hurt. It’s our pasts that haunt us and cause us to build up impenetrable walls. Take some time to work through your experiences and let them go. Let go of exes, bad friends and anyone who might have hurt you. As you let go, you’re more free to enjoy the present.
- Trust him with something important. I don’t know about you, but I tend to close myself off more after someone’s disappointed me. Build trust by actually trusting him with something simple — it could be picking up your parents from the airport or helping with your friend’s birthday party, but it’ll make a big difference. This gives him a chance to prove himself and it lets you relax and be more vulnerable.
- Relax and just enjoy the moment. Yes, it’s hard. It might even help to learn some deep breathing exercises or try daily meditation. The whole point is to quiet your thoughts, forget about all the reasons why you shouldn’t be vulnerable and just enjoy what’s going on right now, consequences be damned.
- Think of how you’d feel if he left. I know it’s kind of harsh, but if you never let yourself be vulnerable, he will leave. Would it hurt more if he left and you never even tried? Could you handle that regret? It’s going to hurt far less if you open up than if you don’t give things a chance.
- Know that it brings you closer together. You could take on all their hobbies, go out with all their friends and and try to be who you think they want. In the end, that’s not going to get you very far. If you want to be truly close, you have to be vulnerable and be yourself. There’s no other way.
- Be honest and accept yourself. Why are you so afraid to be vulnerable? Are you scared your partner won’t accept you, or is it you who can’t accept your flaws? You’re always your own worst critic. Learn to accept yourself and vulnerability won’t be that hard.
- Remember that we all have flaws. Even your seemingly perfect man is flawed. We all have something we’d rather our partner not know about us. The closer you get, the harder it’s going to be to hide your flaws. Go ahead and let yourself be vulnerable. When you’re both sharing your flaws, everyone seems more equal.
- Know that he’s scared, too. Think you’re the only one who hates being vulnerable? He’d trade in one of the family jewels if it meant not having to open up about all those mushy feelings and sharing nonsense. Of course, the excruciating pain of removing a dangly bit kind of makes being vulnerable not seem so bad.
Letting yourself be more vulnerable in relationships is like giving yourself a free pass to be who you really are. It’s not a weakness. It’s a strength and it’s vital to fully embracing and experiencing love.