How to Be More Vulnerable in Relationships

Watching a scary movie together can expose your vulnerability.Watching a scary movie together can expose your vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the cornerstone of deep relationships. Showing others your weaknesses can feel uncomfortable at first, but the rewards are great. Allow yourself to be vulnerable by summoning up your courage, being honest about your thoughts and emotions, and allowing yourself to take risks.

Be Authentic

Fear of being vulnerable can stem from a desire to appear strong and confident in the eyes of others. However, the glue that holds relationships together is not the ability to put on airs and impress others, but rather the ability to be your true and authentic self, faults and all. You don't need to be perfect to connect with others, notes psychologist Emma Seppälä in the Psychology Today article "Vulnerability, The Secret to Intimacy." It isn't your perfect poise or smiling agreement that bring you and your boyfriend closer together -- it is the moments when you show your weaknesses. Don't be afraid to tell him when you are scared, unsure, nervous or confused.

Take Risks

Vulnerability also shows itself when you take risks. Taking a risk with a romantic partner can deepen your bond, create a feeling of connection and allow trust and intimacy to develop, writes sociologist Christine Carter in the Huffington Post article "Three Risky Ways to Fall Deeply in Love." Put this into practice in your everyday relationships by planning activities that force you into situations in which you will be vulnerable. If you are afraid of heights, suggest an indoor rock climbing wall. If performing in front of others gives you the jitters, make plans to take on your local karaoke bar. Choose an activity you can do together that will expose your weaknesses, and then be honest about your fears.

Share Intimate Details

Personal disclosure is another aspect of vulnerability in relationships. Deepen your connection with others by sharing something private and intimate about yourself. For example, in a deepening romantic relationship you might share details of a past failed marriage and your fears related to trust and commitment. With a best friend, you could talk about your fears of not measuring up in the eyes of others in terms of your parenting skills. Sharing something personal and private about yourself allows a connection to form based on a deeper understanding of one another. In an ideal situation, disclosure will be mutual, and you will also learn something personal about the other person.

Stay Safe

At the heart of being vulnerable is a willingness to expose yourself emotionally. With vulnerability comes uncertainty, risk and potential disaster, notes research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work Brene Brown, in her book "Daring Greatly." While being your authentic self and showing vulnerability can deepen relationships, it can also leave you in a position to be taken advantage of by others. If someone makes you feel uneasy, unsafe or uncomfortable, wait until you know that person better before sharing more about yourself. While it is important to have the courage to be your authentic self, make sure to do so only with people who have your best interests at heart.

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About the Author

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.

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