Knocking down the protective walls around your heart and letting someone in is a big deal for anyone. Yet, some of us find it more difficult than others to open up to a partner.
Sometimes we struggle to let people in because we were naturally born that way. Sometimes it’s a result of our familial relationships or our childhoods. And sometimes it’s the result of letting our guard down in the past and having our hearts broken.
If you’ve built up a tough shell around your heart and worry about allowing it to crack open just a little bit to let your partner in, it’s bound to have a negative effect on your relationship.
If your partner doesn’t struggle with being emotionally vulnerable, they can find it hard to understand why they can’t get through to the one they love.
A lot of people struggle with vulnerability because, in their mind, it’s the same thing as weakness. They think that if they allow someone an insight into their insecurities or sensitive spots, they’re somehow going to be viewed as less of a person.
They believe they’ll lose their partner’s respect, be judged, or open themselves up to attack and be at greater risk of getting hurt.
They’re happy to share surface details about themselves – inconsequential things such as their favorite band or where they’d like to travel to – but they clam up when serious issues are raised. Stuff like how they’ve been hurt in the past and their fears about being hurt in the future.
They want the respect of their partner, so they put on a front and act like the strong person they think they need to be to earn that respect. But, they don’t realize that someone who loves them will know only too well when they’re not being genuine.
Rather than the strong person they imagine their partner will see them to be, all their partner sees is a brick wall, which isn’t a very inviting prospect.
If you’ve had this problem in previous relationships or are currently experiencing it, you’re no doubt aware that showing emotional vulnerability is important in romantic relationships.
A previous relationship of yours might even have ended as a result of you being unable to open up, but you still aren’t quite sure how to do so without leaving yourself open to heartbreak.
There are, however, ways that you can signal to your partner that you really want to let them in, even if you’re struggling to actually do so. And ways that you can train yourself, slowly but surely, to trust in your partner – and in yourself – enough to open up.
1. Let Them Know You Struggle With Vulnerability
First things first. An important step toward showing more vulnerability in your relationship is letting your partner know that you struggle with it.
They’ll have probably already worked it out for themselves, but it might set their mind at ease to know that it’s not them, it’s you.
Let them know that you’re aware of the importance of emotional vulnerability and you’ll do your best, but that you won’t always succeed.
You don’t have to go into too much detail if you don’t feel comfortable, but it’s good to give them an idea of where you think your issues have sprung from.
2. When They Ask How You Are, Tell The Truth
Honesty is a big part of vulnerability, but we’re all very used to hiding our feelings away.
The standard answer to the question “How are you?” is “Fine,” and that’s all well and good when your colleague asks you. No doubt they would be taken aback if you actually told them how you were.
But when your partner asks you, try to be a little more honest. If you’re great, tell them, and tell them why. If you’re feeling low, even if you can’t quite put your finger on why, share that with them.
By being honest about something as seemingly insignificant as how you are, you pave the way for greater honesty in your relationship as a whole. If you can tell them you’ve had a bad day and realize you’re not being judged, your confidence in them will start to grow.
3. Be Honest With Yourself
There’s no way you’ll ever be able to share the inner workings of your mind with a partner if you can’t be honest with yourself.
We’re generally pretty successful at convincing ourselves that the front we put on for other people is actually reality.
Journaling is an amazing way to figure out how you’re really feeling. Let your feelings out onto the page in a stream of consciousness, and don’t worry about the words or the grammar. Try to catch yourself when you’re not being totally honest.
Articulating how you feel to yourself gives you a much better chance of being able to open up to a partner.
Emotional vulnerability isn’t all about sharing your worries and fears. It’s about the good stuff too!
A great way to begin to open up is by sharing the dreams you have that you might be reluctant to talk about. Perhaps you worry that people will laugh at them or think they’re ridiculous or totally unrealistic.
If you have a hobby, a passion, or a goal that you find incredibly exciting but you’ve never told anyone about, why not let your partner in on that secret
They’ll feel like they’ve gained a real insight into your world, and you’ll realize that sharing things with them really isn’t that scary after all!
5. Sit Down, Talk, And Set Boundaries
If you’ve decided that there’s something in particular that you do want to share with your partner, make sure you sit down for a chat with them at a moment when there are no distractions and no time pressures.
Before you sit down, establish in your head exactly what it is you’d like to talk to them about. Try to focus on one issue per chat, rather than bombarding them with several issues or insecurities all at once.
When you speak, let them know if there are any boundaries you’d like them to respect, such as not trying to give you any advice on your problem or criticizing you, even if unintentionally.
When you’ve got everything off your chest, make sure to let them know that you’re grateful for their attention, support, and respect.
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Cry
If tears well up, don’t hold them back. Crying is incredibly cleansing and if there are tears in your eyes, they’re better out than in.
Don’t think of tears as a sign of weakness, but as a signal that you’re not afraid to recognize and own your emotions and share them with your partner.
Somebody who’s not afraid to cry and allows him or herself to truly feel is far more attractive to others than somebody who refuses to open up.
7. Take It Slowly But Surely
If you’re reading this, you’ve already made a fantastic start. You’ve recognized that you struggle with emotional vulnerability. That’s the first step toward making changes and starting to build the strong, honest, and open relationship you want.
Don’t push yourself too far too fast. Keep taking baby steps forward, and before you know it, you’ll be just where you want to be.
Check out this hypnotherapy MP3 designed to help you show more emotional vulnerability in your relationship. Click here to learn more.
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Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.