When it comes to sharing our deepest feelings, fears, and insecurities, we’re often more comfortable talking to a stranger than to those closest to us. We may talk to a bartender, a hairdresser, or a therapist to get something off our chest but struggle to share with those we love. While we often hide aspects of ourselves for fear of being judged, there is great strength in the act of sharing the most vulnerable aspects of ourselves with our partners.
Vulnerability is the essential glue of any relationship. It helps us withstand challenges that would otherwise pull us apart or damage the relationship. Our level of satisfaction in a relationship is equal to how vulnerable and authentic we can be in the relationship.
Here are 3 steps to take to create a more honest and open relationship:
1. Start with being honest with yourself about your feelings.
We tend to lie to ourselves before we lie to others. Opening up to others requires us to first understand ourselves. Be clear with yourself about what you are feeling and what you can gain from sharing it. Explore why certain issues are triggering for you. What does it bring up? What are you afraid of? What is the one thing that you really don’t want your partner to know about you?
The more you ask yourself these questions, the more the answers will start to reveal themselves to you. From that place, you can start to examine what it means to share those aspects with your partner and how your relationship could actually benefit from that type of honesty.
2. Create a safe space for mutual sharing.
Vulnerability needs to be cultivated and welcomed in order for true connection to be created in relationships. Vulnerability requires feeling safe and loved unconditionally. Create a space for your partner to show up authentically. Let them know there is no shame in being in the middle of life’s messy process, and that there is nothing they could ever do that would damage your love or support.
Encourage your partner to be seen and assure them that they are safe. Be curious about getting to know them on a deeper level and ask them to do the same for you. You cannot overestimate the power this gives your partner or the strength it will build in the relationship.
3. Make time each week to share small things.
Any vulnerability or opportunity to be more open is important. One of the reasons it is so important to be actively more vulnerable is that it then allows the other person to be there for you in a meaningful way. So many times, we don’t feel our partner is there for us, but in reality, we don’t give them the opportunity because we don’t share what we need and why. We expect our partners to read our minds and are upset if they don’t. We expect our partner to support us in all ways without knowing what makes you you. Open honesty gives your partner the opportunity to be there for you in ways they have no idea that they could or should.
Start by sharing smaller things that you’ve been hesitant to reveal to your partner. Take time each week to divulge small aspects of yourself until you feel ready to share more significant things. Invite them to do the same. It is far better to be too vulnerable than not enough.
The way to strengthen any relationship is through a constant push from both parties to become more and more vulnerable. Our ego tells us that vulnerability makes us weaker, but it actually comes from the strongest part of ourselves. Almost always, being vulnerable opens you and the relationship up to being stronger. An open and honest relationship is one where you can be seen and embraced. The more willing we are to be our true selves, the stronger the foundation we have to build a long-term relationship. Vulnerability isn’t a choice if you want a relationship that grows. It isn’t just nice to have – it is essential.