Shedding the Tough Exterior: Embracing your relationship
Many of us chose to live while putting up the tough guy act. We try to put up a facade that we are holding it all together. Opening up to a partner or a loved one in a relationship or the mere thought can be frightening for some amongst us. But wearing that guarded armor all the time can put you at considerable loss if you wish to get involved in more real and intimate relationship.
While this self-sufficiency and autonomy helps us weather most of the storms in our life, they can also steal the true sense of intimacy from our relationships. The harmony of a relationship is based on the partners need to be able to depend on each other. The desire to feel needed and appreciated for help and support is what makes our special someone truly special.
Letting yourself out
Vulnerability is commonly perceived as a weakness, but it is actually a great strength. Dr. Brené Brown discusses the importance of vulnerability in relationships. She writes, “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.” She explains that relationships centre on the desire to show up and let ourselves be seen.
Love is a personal affair. It feeds on self-compassion and self-love. You can’t be good at everything. Once you let go of the inner need to fit a perfect definition, you reflexively stop expecting perfection from your partner. It is only when you allow the real person inside you to surface, uninhibited by the fear of being judged, that you get a chance of connecting deeply and vulnerably in a loving relationship.
Dr. Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. With this definition in mind, the act of falling in love can be considered the ultimate risk. Falling in love would mean putting it all out there, while keeping in mind that at our partner can walk away, betray or fall out of love at a blink of an eye.
How to find love amidst expectations?
Dr. Brown writes about the contradictory ways in which the society expects men and women to behave. In her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, she writes about how women are expected to be perfect. Women are expected to strike the right balance: “Don’t make people uncomfortable, but be honest” or “Don’t be too emotional, but don’t be too detached either.”
Men on the other hand are raised to be strong and not to display signs of fear or vulnerability. The definition of “masculinity” widely understood these days places emotional men in the less manly category. Yet we hear more women seeking men who are more emotionally open!
How is one expected to let their guard down and find love amidst these twisted expectations?
Brené Brown addresses our concerns beautifully: “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.”
What is holding you back?
While living in the fear of exposing yourself or showing weakness to your partner, you might be holding yourself back from being fully engaged in the relationship. While trapping your authentic self in a shell, you might be depriving yourself from the opportunity to love and share your thoughts, feelings and wishes.
You busy schedule might be holding you back from making an effort to catch up and focus o each other after a long day of work. Couples form lasting relationships when they are willing to move from a state of co-dependence to a higher pedestal of interdependence.
Don’t let the fear of losing your independence hamper the closeness that you can achieve with your partner. Love grows fonder when two human souls unite to become one entity and exist. Following a rigid definition of independent adulthood does not allow closeness to develop.
The perks of being vulnerable
According to psychoanalyst John Bowlby, “The need to form a mutually protective alliance is innate”.
When John Bowlby’s attachment theory was applied to adult relationships, psychologists found that partners in secure relationships tend to show lower levels of anxiety and avoidance. In other words, they are at ease about opening up.
Research suggests these “secure” partnerships allow individuals to cope better with stress. These individuals have more positive views about their relationships and express greater satisfaction. They exhibit a better balance between independence and intimacy. This is because in times of anxiety, they seek a physical or psychological connection with their partner to calm themselves down. In times of need, they do not shy from asking their partner’s support or assistance.
We all need a shoulder to rely on in order to maintain a sense of security. The knowledge that your partner is reliable and available can considerably reduce the magnitude with which problems hit you. Once your mind is at peace, you are open to relish new experiences and be more productive in your life.
If you are interested in enhancing the intimacy in your relationship, schedule a free 20 minute consultation now with Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT. Just click the link below.