Marriage Counseling: Overcoming the Fear of Vulnerability
If you understand what it means, and desire to have a close connected relationship, (and I talk about this all the time), you know you must open up to your partner. Vulnerability is a key ingredient of a healthy love relationship, and it also entails some risk. You have to be willing to risk opening up emotionally to your partner in order to achieve the closeness that we all crave with our life partners. But what if you grew up in a family where there was suspicion and no trust present; where information was used against you and when you opened up and shared your feelings, they were discounted or disregarded? This makes it hard to trust as an adult and fearful of being hurt. Overcoming the fear of vulnerability is necessary to have that close connected relationship we all need to live happily in relationships.
Facing The Fear
The first step is to understand the origin of the fear and see how the fear has impacted your relationships since childhood. Without blaming, you can understand how the way you were raised and the relationships you had with family members and your primary caregivers impacted your perceptions and expectations surrounding interactions with strangers, friends and potential mates. Why would you trust people if your entire experience has been that people have been untrustworthy or treated you wrongly when you placed your trust in them? It’s completely understandable that you would be reticent about sharing your inner self when this has been your experience. What may be news to you is that not everyone is like that. There are honest, good, authentic people in this world who have no angle, want nothing from you and have no agenda beyond getting to know you and being your friend or seeing you as someone they are attracted to and want to spend time with. Facing this fear of being vulnerable is scary and you must be brave and willing to take some chances to help secure your future happiness.
Be Willing to Risk it
In order to overcome your fear of vulnerability you have to courageously risk being hurt yet again. Every time you open up to someone and allow yourself to be vulnerable that risk is present. You must come to terms with whether or not a successful authentic love relationship is what is important to you. Do you need to know that you are fully loved for who you truly are?. It’s for you alone to decide if you can be brave enough to step out and show your true self, to be vulnerable to someone you care about and trust them enough to put yourself out there. It doesn’t always come out in your favor, but you keep trying. When you can love someone so completely that you can show your scars and fears to them you’re giving them a huge gift. The result is that you have someone who takes you for who you are and loves you for all of the dark places that you used to hide.
The Rewards Are Many and Oh So Worth It!
Not only do you find that complete soul connection with your loved ones when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you learn that all of that stuff you were keeping hidden, really isn’t all that bad. Even if it is, the one you love is now able to share some of that burden with you and let you know that you’re not alone. That the thing you feared most isn’t coming to pass. Your lover has not rejected you; is not judging you. You’ve taken that risk and been rewarded with a partner who truly knows your authentic self, and loves you because of (or in spite of) your fears. With risk come great rewards. We all need to take risks and then when success happens it’s less scary the next time.
Overcoming the fear of vulnerability is possible. It all starts with wanting to have a close connected relationship with someone more than you want to be alone and building a foundation of love and trust with that person. Your past experiences don’t have to hold you back from having an authentic connection and a loving relationship with that person who is perfect for you. We’re all flawed and we all have things about us that we might not want to share with a potential partner, but if we can find the courage to risk being vulnerable we can find lasting and authentic love.
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Stuart Fensterheim LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.
His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel.
Stuart practices in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he lives with his loving wife of many years, and their therapy dog, Ollie.