3 Tips to Being Vulnerable in Your Relationship
Emotional vulnerability is at the core of a healthy, successful relationship. Whether it is with your children, friends, or partner, vulnerability helps us get to know the people in our lives and really connect to them. There are many hurdles we must face to becoming emotionally intimate—whether its building trust, becoming self-aware, or having difficult self-reflection or conversations.
However, without vulnerability, we would not reach intimacy – and this would lead to relationships that feel superficial and dry. With intimacy comes conversations, love, understanding, a better sex life, and many more emotions that build in an intimate relationship.
Do you feel like your relationship lacks depth and real conversation? Are you trying to find a way to be emotionally vulnerable with your partner and open up in a way you did not before? Did you know that, simply by communicating positively with your partner, your relationship is more likely to feel fulfilled by both you and your significant other? Here are some tips to help be emotionally vulnerable in your relationship.
To improve conflict resolution, be mindful and accepting of your partner’s feelings.
Healthy expression of one’s own emotions includes both positive and negative feelings during a discussion. This contributes to better self-acceptance, personal growth, and interpersonal intimacy. In a discussion, you can attempt to be aware of your partners’ feelings and seek to maintain a safe environment. An example of this could be when you notice your partner is upset; you can tell them “Even though we are arguing, I still love you” or try to crack a joke about the situation to ease some tension.
If your partner feels threatened or anxious, be aware that they can begin to place or take the blame – causing them to revert to past responses which tend to not be useful in conflict resolution. By observing your significant other’s emotions, you can notice that your partner is becoming detached. Your partner can become quiet, not wanting to talk, walk out in the middle of a discussion, and find other ways to isolate themselves. Be empathetic about your partner’s feelings without judging or pushing them away.
Your partner may feel one way, but they’re suppressing how they feel or becoming emotionally distant. However, if you become distant, they are even more likely to pull away. This prevents conflict resolution and increases the likelihood that the argument will arise again.
In a heterosexual relationship, men are least likely to be emotionally vulnerable. Men are taught to mistrust strong emotions, such as crying because they are seen as a weakness. Thus, you should be vigilant about how your partner feels. You can offer new ways to respond in your relationship if you are aware your significant other tends to mask emotional vulnerability to improve conflict resolution. If you notice your partner is upset, ask them “tell me how you feel”, or you can suggest: “do you want to talk about it?” to ease into a difficult or stressful conversation.
If you notice the argument seems to be escalating and hurtful words could be said, say “I think we should relax and discuss this later when we aren’t as upset”. This gives your partner time to relax and not act out in anger. It also gives them time to think through the argument, and what to say with a calm and collected mind. Speaking in a calm moment rather than in anger improves conflict resolution and overall discussions. In an intense dispute, the person with less power may respond in reactive ways to appear powerful to mask their sense of vulnerability. Try to remember your partner may need a moment to relax or they can be feeling very vulnerable and not know the best way to express themselves.
Have frequent meaningful conversations.
Discuss with your partner your insecurities and fears. Share positive and negative childhood memories that impacted how you view relationships today. If your partner experienced parental divorce, they are more likely to favor attitudes toward divorce and can even reduce commitment in relationships. Meaningful conversations lead to a relationship that is built on honesty rather than ambiguity. By having open and judgment-free conversations, the other partner feels more inclined to discuss topics that they were scared to mention before and begins to feel safe in the relationship.
This leads to a relationship that is emotionally vulnerable and connected. Allow your partner to share past relationship issues since this can influence insecurities in your current relationship. Early adults’ own experience with instability impacts expectations for future relationships.
If your partner had a previously abusive relationship, understand that trust in your relationship will take more time to build. If your significant other had a difficult past regarding family issues or their love lives, your partner requires compassion, and their past can lead to positive conversations in which you can reassure your partner to build trust.
Reassuring your partner of their fears and doubts becomes easier and more frequent when you know about them. Reassurance also causes your partner to feel validated which could be most useful for individuals from previously abusive relationships. Discuss aspects that make each of you in the relationship feel safe and secure. If your partner had a previously toxic, jealous, or controlling partner, they may require more space in this relationship, and discussing this with your partner sets a more considerate expectation of each other.
Have satisfying sex
Sexual satisfaction often has an important role in determining the level of emotional intimacy in relationships.5 Men consider a satisfactory sexual relationship as a tool for increasing emotional intimacy, whereas women may pursue emotional intimacy to feel sexually intimate with their partners. You can spice up the bedroom to fulfill your and your partner’s needs by changing up your sex life. Try new sexual positions, or fantasies which you have discussed with your partner previously but did not due for whatever reason. Communicating about your sex life to make it more pleasurable also increases the likelihood that you and your partner view your sex life as enjoyable.
Discuss what both of you enjoy or dislike in the bedroom. Having safe words when you or your partner feel out of control can help in a situation to stop or take a break. Safe words can ease your worries when trying something new that makes either of you nervous or cautious. Partners are more likely to feel emotionally and sexually intimate with their partners when they perceive that their partner’s communication style is more positive, and this increases intimacy and enhances their relationship satisfaction.
When both partners feel their sex life is satisfactory, they are more likely to view the relationship as satisfactory as well. There should be no stigmas involved in your relationship when discussing sex; both partners should feel comfortable and able to discuss what they like, dislike, and their boundaries.
These are three things you can do to become or help your partner be more emotionally vulnerable in the relationship. Starting with an honest, heartfelt conversation with your partner can be a great start. How will you incorporate these tips into your life? Are there some tips you might already be successfully doing now? Which tip sounds more difficult for either your partner or even yourself? Just one of these tips can help you feel more secure and initiate and lead to better conversations in your relationship today! Give them a try.
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