Vulnerability, by definition, is a state of exposure.
Exposing one’s deepest emotions and thoughts, even to a loved one can be a terrifying concept, but it doesn’t have to begin with sharing each other’s deepest secret or most traumatic memory – relationships take time and work, and so does vulnerability. Vulnerability requires patience from all parties, but most importantly it gives us the power to keep ourselves safe, which means sharing what we feel comfortable with. It is one of our greatest powers to create and continue to build strong and safe relationships.
The beginning of new relationships can be exciting, filling us with the comfort of a warm sunset. This is also one of the most important stages in a relationship to introduce your vulnerabilities by creating personal boundaries.
Boundaries can sometimes make or break relationships – those not worthy of your affection will resist and try to push them. This is an early red flag to look out for, as anyone who is willing to take advantage of your vulnerability is probably willing to do the same further into the partnership. Boundaries can include, but aren’t limited to, sexual limits, affection and how much time you spend together.
By introducing boundaries early, we open a stream of communication that should remain open throughout the relationship. It’s always important to assess how your partner interprets and adheres to your boundaries, as it’s often a good sign of how they will respond to future vulnerable occasions.
Keep in mind that boundaries can also change with time. The boundary you choose to set today may be completely different in a few years’ time.
Unfortunately, we don’t know everything about someone when we first enter a relationship, but by the time romance has flourished, we can assume an element of trust and respect has been established. Trust, like boundaries, is an important part of any relationship’s foundation. Being open with your loved one from the start of a romance makes it easier to remain open and to address conflicts in the future.
Every partnership is different, and therefore, the way we utilise trust will be personal. Trust for some people may involve only having sex with one person, someone coming home at the time they said they would, or owning up when a mistake is made. These small acts of trust help to build a relationship on the power of being vulnerable and open about what you want. The more you know about your significant other, the easier it can be to mediate or compromise in ways that suit your personal preferences.
What You’re Comfortable Sharing
There may be some things you aren’t comfortable sharing with a romantic partner at the beginning, or at any point in the relationship, and that’s okay.
The beauty of being vulnerable is the ability to self-preserve. Some parts of our lives may be too intimate or distressing to discuss at some point, or at any point. Here, vulnerability relies on the trust of the relationship, and your partner needs to understand that discussing things such as traumatic former relationships or family issues could hinder rather than help you.
In these instances, your safety and recovery from these situations is paramount and, therefore, you may not be comfortable sharing. A receptive and respectful partner will understand that these are sensitive topics and offer you to space you need.
It’s important to communicate openly from the get-go to ensure a harmonious partnership. Being honest about how you feel and what you want from your relationship is essential to ensure you’re always on the same wavelength.
Communication is especially key when it comes to sexual relationships, short or long term. Consent, voicing what you’re comfortable with, and more importantly, what you’re not comfortable with, can make us feel vulnerable. But sex is something that is meant to be enjoyable, and if you have a partner who disregards your needs, the opposite can be true. Being heard is vital for any sexual or romantic encounter, and we all deserve to be heard by our prospective companion to ensure our safety and peace of mind.
In most relationships, uncomfortable conversations are likely to arise at some point. It’s important to give each other the time to voice concerns and how you would like to move forward. Examples of these conversations can include imbalances in emotional or physical labour, wanting/ not wanting children, or financial issues.
It’s important to listen empathetically to each other, to potentially compromise, or even involve a mediator such as a counsellor if necessary. If you both want the relationship to work, it involves work and patience, and this can ultimately build resilience and strength in the long run.
The power of vulnerability in relationships can create long-lasting, safe, and resilient partnerships based on trust and respect. Vulnerability’s power can initiate deeper connections with our parnter and create the foundation for a meaningful and honest relationship.