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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Honesty and Vulnerability the Key to Intimacy

One of the main factors of having and keeping a good relationship is being able to trust, and have good communication. In order for others to trust us, we have to be able to become vulnerable, and show our vulnerability. Honesty and vulnerability go hand in hand. You cannot be totally, and genuinely truthful with another, without opening up fully to them.

This is something that I have had to learn the hard way, having lived in an abusive relationship, as I wrote about in “Abuse, One Woman’s Story”. I learned in that relationship, not to be, or show vulnerability. If I allowed my vulnerabilities to show, they were always, used against me at some point, or another. As a result I became very numb, and caged within myself. People were always telling me how easy going and laid back, and quiet I was. “Nothing ever bothers you”, they would say. But they also knew that, something was just not quite right with that.

When I finally left that relationship, I still found it hard to become vulnerable to others. I had learned all to well how to keep who I really was, tightly hidden inside. I believed that to show my vulnerabilities was a weakness, and I really believed that it was making me strong. Little did I know how wrong I was. A most wonderful man found me, despite myself, and lost that very valuable relationship because of it.

Without it, you are not truly opening your heart to another. Not only to love them fully, but to allow them to love you fully. He knew I was not only keeping some of my love from him, but also, not allowing him to love me the way he needed to. He couldn’t feel like he could trust me, because he always felt that I was hiding something. This took away his trust, and security. As a result, we both hurt each other deeply. A significant feature of any lasting relationship is our willingness to be, and show our vulnerability. It allows us to be friend, not foe, and you cannot become sincerely intimate with another, without it.

Sharon Ellison states,

“From an early age, we’re conditioned to believe that to expose our fears, weaknesses and negative feelings at a time of confrontation is to invite trouble. The truth is just the opposite. The alchemy between vulnerability and honesty is the chemical reaction that can transform our communication.”
She is speaking here, only at times of confrontation, because when we do show vulnerability to others, it most normally, only happens when we feel safe. When we don’t feel safe, we become defensive, we close down, the armor comes on, the mote is built, and the walls go up, around our feelings. But in actuality, I believe that we all do it, to some degree, most all of the time.

We don’t want the world to know our weaknesses, after all, in the dating world, it is always expressed that confidence is the most attractive quality to possess, to attract both men and women. If we expose our weaknesses, we believe that we will be looked down upon, or ridiculed. But the element that we are missing is that, by showing vulnerability, we are showing confidence. Without it, we are showing a lack of trust, both in ourselves, and others, one of the elements of low self-esteem.

To show vulnerability is to come out of hiding, and shows honesty, as long as we are not using it in a manipulative way. There is great power in honesty; especially when we show it in the face of someone who wants to hurt us. Without it, we are unable to give truthful feedback, and communicate what is accurately happening between us. When our armor, mote and walls are up, we have a tendency to bow up, and we come off as defensive, and angry, which only acts as a domino effect. The other person, in turn, only shuts us out, and tries to bring us down further…the very thing that we are attempting to protect ourselves from.

On the other hand, by yielding our vulnerability, and the power of honesty, we both start to move away from being defensive, and are able to empathize with one another. Most importantly, we build the bridge to trust, and intimacy, as opposed to building the mote between us that continually grows with each confrontation.

Take the risk! Open yourself up to the possibilities!

Related article:

"Emotions, The Center of Social Interactions and Communication"

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23 Love note(s):

G8rBryan said...

Nice post. It's kinda funny, I wrote a post tonight about finally giving into my feelings and sharing how I truly felt about my g/f. It scared the hell out of me to tell her how I felt.


I agree that open communications and honesty is whats makes healthy relationships. Like you, I've experienced a relationship where my feelings and vulnerabilities could and would be used against me. If your not sure if your in a bad relationship, then that would a definite sign to get out.

Sonnie said...

There so much transparency and humanity in your post, hoping for the best in you and your son

fabulousabstinence said...

I can relate to your post. After leaving an abusive relationship, it's difficult to trust people and open up about your feelings. In other words, become vulnerable. But if you don't start trusting and communicating again, you close yourself off from enjoying new friendships.

Well done.

Happydays said...

i visit first time your blog .. and i realize your posts are really very good. I appreciate your thinking.

Keep going.

searchingwithin said...

Why thank you Happydays, I hope you stop by again.

~Best Wishes~

Mikko Kemppe said...

Very beautiful post. I think also when you are able to show your vulnerable feminine side in an honest non-judgemental or non-manipulative fashion it opens the doors of men's hearts to become the best they can be and to bring the most noble part out of them to protect and care.

This helps also men to become more in touch and to understand their own feminine side as we learn to be there for you for yours. Thank you for sharing.

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I agree with what your post says and also, communication is very important if a relationship is to flourish.
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Pepper Spray said...

Fantastic post, I love tips on how to keep intimacy in the relationship as it can relate to anyone!

Paul said...

As a man who grew up in an abusive home and who then went on to recreate this abuse in two marriages and a career, I'd like to make two points. First, men are also abused in relationships and, second, we tend to blindly recreate abusive situations if we don't make the effort to change. We gravitate to the familiar and if abuse is all we know, that is what we seek out. We can be as honest and vulnerable as possible, but if we continually choose partners who are abusive and narsissistic, we will suffer.

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