When someone goes through a divorce or a long term relationship breakup, one of the many hard things about it is the feeling of insecurity because you are losing someone to whom you showed incredible vulnerability. Which…might cause you to have a fear of vulnerability with future dating partners.
Think about it. When you were married, you opened yourself up, so the person saw everything. He or she saw you naked. He or she knew your fears, your faults, your weaknesses, your insecurities. And, he or she still loved you. And then he or she didn’t.
A lot of people ask, “How do you trust someone again after divorce?” They are basically also asking, “How do you allow yourself to be vulnerable again after divorce?”
I’m a person who knows all about fear of vulnerability.
In my life, I’ve been in relationships where I barely shared, to the extreme of being in one presently where I have been completely and utterly vulnerable. Which is better? Hands down, the latter. Why? Because I believe that regardless of fear of vulnerability, a relationship without vulnerability isn’t that great.
Let me back up by explaining that I show my vulnerable self every single day in my career. Writing articles for Divorced Girl Smiling and the Pioneer Press/Chicago Tribune, not to mention recording my weekly podcast, might seem like I’m not exposing myself because I’m giving advice to others. Wrong. If you think about it, the advice I’m giving all stems from my experiences, which make me feel vulnerable. Is it scary? A lot of times, yes.
Actually, if you think about it, anyone who is in a creative field, or even any job for that matter–writing, music, acting, producing, directing, advertising, fashion and countless other industries, is showing his or her vulnerability with every project they take on. If they have a fear of vulnerability, they have to overcome it or they won’t be as successful as they could be. The bottom line is, fear of vulnerability can hold you back both professionally and personally.
What happens if you don’t put yourself out there? Not much!
As an author, can you imagine my vulnerability while standing at a table at a book fair selling my books? (numerous times.) I actually had people come up and say “I really didn’t like your book,” or “I thought your book was terrible.” I’m not kidding. But I also had many people come up and say “I loved your book.” “I stayed up all night reading it.” Did the bad comments hurt me? Yep. Did they stop me from continuing to write? Nope. Relationships are the same.
You might be vulnerable to someone and they might walk away and that could really really be hurtful. But if you can overcome your fear of vulnerability, you might be vulnerable with the next person and they might end up being the love of your life. That’s the best feeling in the world. In other words, having the courage to be vulnerable is worth the risk.
Is that easy to do? Hell no. So why do it? Because there are gifts that come from the courage it takes to expose yourself, both in a relationship and just in life, in general. Here are the gifts:
1. It’s like having real Prada bag instead of a knock off.
What if someone offered you a real Prada purse instead of a knockoff, and they said you could have it for the same price? Which one would you pick? I imagine almost everyone would pick the real one. So, in relationships, why not take the real one?
If you aren’t willing to take the risk to show him or her your true self, the relationship can’t grow past a certain point. Maybe you’re OK with that, maybe not. I know I’m not, because I’ve been in both kinds of relationships.
2. You are living your authentic life.
Living a life that is meaningful and the best it can be means taking the risk of exposing who you truly are. People will either like it or they won’t. And to be able to say, “If you don’t like it, that’s OK,” is empowering. As long as you like yourself, it will work out fine. I promise.
3. It just feels good.
Doesn’t it feel good when you know in your core that you’re not a fake with someone? You’re really you and he loves it. That’s just awesome. Being vulnerable can also make someone fall more in love with you. It shows you are human, that you are unafraid to feel things deeply. That is a huge turn on to most people.
4. You know your relationship is real.
What if I show vulnerability and he dumps me? My answer: Then, he didn’t love you enough to stick it out. You will move on and eventually meet someone who will. And, what if you show vulnerability and things are still great? Then, your relationship isn’t fake. It’s a real Prada.
Here’s what vulnerability isn’t:
1. Because one of the definitions of vulnerable means “susceptible to being wounded,” people might associate vulnerability with being weak. NOT TRUE. On the contrary, it takes an incredible amount of courage and strength to be vulnerable.
2. Sharing every deep, dark secret you hold. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you have to share anything you’re not comfortable sharing. It warrants the respect to keep certain things private. Everyone is entitled to that.
So, you decide. How do you want to manage your fear of vulnerability? You want the real Prada bag or the knock off? The price of the Prada bag is courage, but while it’s on your arm, you will know in your heart that it’s real.