Relationship Building 101: Vulnerability In Relationships

Let’s talk about vulnerability. In our last post, we discussed how our expectations stem from our desire to protect ourselves from being hurt, disappointed, and ultimately, unprepared for undesired outcomes.

To prevent ourselves from allowing our expectations to control and shape the course of our lives, we need to be willing to be vulnerable in different areas—including our relationships.

When we look at long-lasting relationships that continue to grow and thrive, there’s often a common factor and it’s trust. Trust is often based on one’s ability to be vulnerable and open to being exposed, unprotected, and susceptible to a negative outcome or harmful experience. Undoubtedly, this can be a very uncomfortable position for many of us! I’m not advising that you risk your health or safety to become vulnerable in a new relationship—but I am, however, implying that vulnerability serves a meaningful purpose in the relationships we foster and engage in.

What happens often is when a person experiences hurt, heartbreak, disloyalty, or abuse, they carry the memories, emotions, and even the scars that accompanied those experiences. That person enters new relationships with unhealed trauma or undisposed baggage. That person may even be hesitant or completely opposed to entering new relationships. In both cases, that individual has likely built a wall, preventing them from trusting and giving relational access to others who may come into their life. This barrier then forces others to stay in a “safe” zone in order to prevent that individual from experiencing future hurt or heartbreak.

Have you been through an experience that affected how you entered a new relationship, whether familial, romantic, or professional?

To get past this place, it takes digging deeply towards the feelings, emotions, and memories that have been buried, which will leave a person exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes, we believe that by burying those things, we’re creating a protective barrier around the most sensitive areas of our lives. However, this can also cause us to remain unhealed, resentful, and even unwelcoming to different relational opportunities and the possibility of positive outcomes.  

To establish more perspective around this topic, there are 3 points that I find to be essential when understanding vulnerability

1. Healing from past traumas helps release you from the residue of the past and position you to be open to being vulnerable. Without taking the time to process your emotions and heal from the experiences of past relationships, it makes it difficult for you to welcome and embrace the possibility of experiencing something new and better. Just because you experienced pain from a partner in an old relationship, doesn’t mean that you enter your next relationship unhealed, punishing a new partner for the shortcomings of an ex.

2. Vulnerability doesn’t happen all at once. Typically, you don’t jump into a new relationship completely trusting the new person right away. Trust is something that takes time to build. As trust grows, you become more inclined to be vulnerable and show up as your authentic self.

3. Vulnerability can be a sign of strength. Although vulnerability indicates the possibility of being hurt, it also suggests that you have the ability to live an authentic life. As humans, we have a full range of emotions and to be our full human selves, it requires vulnerability.

If you found this read helpful, click here for part 1 of my live chat about the impact of vulnerability.

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