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Vulnerability gets a bad rap because most people don’t like how it feels to be vulnerable. It’s scary when you put at yourself at risk of taking a blow to the ego, and it makes us feel like we have no control.

 

But while being vulnerable might feared for good reason, any relationship without vulnerability isn't much of a relationship at all.

 

In truth, knowing how to be vulnerable with the person you love lies at the heart of anyone's ability to create deep intimacy and long-lasting trust within healthy relationships.

 

By definition, vulnerability is“The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”

 

Alternately, it is the state in which one is vulnerable, i.e., “Exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”

 

When you allow yourself to be vulnerable with your partner, you give them an opportunity to create their best self.

 

Think about it this way …

 

Have any of your friends ever told you a secret and asked you not to share it under any circumstances? Probably, because that’s what friends do.

 

How did that make you feel? Did it make you see yourself differently knowing someone trusted you enough to tell you something they didn't want others to know? Did you feel honored and respected? Did you feel like it made the bond your friend stronger?

 

Most likely, your answer to these questions, “Yes.”

 

The same holds true in healthy romantic relationships, and there are many more ways being vulnerable strengthens the bond between partners.

 

For example, imagine that the person you love forgets an important date, such as your anniversary. Although you'd probably feel upset, you might be worried that expressing your frustration would only cause a fight.

 

But sharing your feelings with your partner is important. Keeping quiet only causes things to fester and build, turning from molehills into mountains.

 

And there’s a way to do this that deepens the intimacy and connection in your relationship.

 

 

David Deida, author of The Way of the Superior Man, says that when we experience something we don't like in relation to our partner, we feel both a primary and a secondary emotion.

 

In the case of your partner forgetting your anniversary, you might feel anger at first. But if you peel away to the layer underneath and see what's really there, you're likely to find a different, primary emotion.

 

Your primary feeling might be hurt. It might be fear that you're not lovable. It might be sadness caused by thinking you're not significant to your partner. It might be worry that there’s something wrong with your relationship.

 

When you express these feelings to your partner, you might feel as though you’re giving them power over you, or you may be concerned that you'll come off as needy or weak.

 

Any of these things may or may not be true, but you need to express your feelings to them regardless.

 

 

Of course, this doesn't mean you should lash out or attack your partner.

 

Instead, let the primary emotion — your hurt — shine through rather than the secondary one — your anger.

 

When you do this, you give the person who hurt you a clear understanding of the impact of their actions, which ultimately provides them with an opportunity to see themselves more clearly.

 

Rather than getting defensive, as they likely would if you were to have expressed anger, they can see the error in their ways and apologize for causing you heartache.

 

In order to communicate about your emotions more effectively, you must take ownership of your primary feeling and share it with your partner.

 

Tell your partner how you feel using what clinical psychologist Thomas Gordon termed “I-messages” or “I-statements”, which are intended “to be assertive without putting the listener on the defensive … {and to allow the speaker] to take ownership for one's feelings rather than implying that they are caused by another person.”

 

Try saying something along the lines of, “I feel hurt when our anniversary goes by without acknowledgement. I would like for us to consciously celebrate such special milestones together”, rather than “You hurt me by forgetting our anniversary.”

 

“You-messages” or “you-statements” generate defensiveness in the listener, whereas “I-statements” generate self-reflection (so be careful not to include one by accident by saying something like, “I feel hurt when you forget our anniversary”).

 

Your partner may still get defensive, of course. After all, no one likes hearing they've done something wrong, even when they're told about it nicely.

 

But allowing yourself to be vulnerable by openly communicating your honest emotions facilitates openness, trust, and honesty within healthy relationships in the long run.

 

And, naturally, all of this will better prepare you for whatever comes your way.

Clayton Olson is an international relationship coach, master NLP practitioner, and facilitator who delivers private virtual coaching sessions and leads online group workshops. Register for his free webinar that reveals the 3 Keys to Attracting and Keeping a High-Quality Man or grab his free guide, 8 Secrets To Create A Rock Solid Relationship.

This article was originally posted in YourTango.