Everyone tells you that when you meet someone who is different than all the rest, it will just be easy. From your first date to your tenth, you’ll savor the fact that there are no games, no complications, and no questionable motives. And because you know it could (and likely is) something long term, you let your guard down and open up your heart.
Or do you?
Even though it seems like it would be natural and simple, being vulnerable in a new relationship can be difficult, scary and at times… make you want to run away, fast. Even if you really care about someone, that residue from the parade of jerks you dated before is hard to shake off. But if you want that new relationship to bloom, experts agree you have to take a deep breath… and let it.
“People struggle with vulnerability because they associate it with being hurt. It's completely understandable! Think about it; if you're starting to date someone, it means that every other romantic relationship you've ever been in hasn't worked out,” psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell, tells Bustle “Every time you've been vulnerable in the past, the relationship has eventually ended and you've been hurt. It makes perfect sense that people get fearful, put up walls, and lose hope! They begin to associate being vulnerable with heartache so they resist it.”
So what are some big benefits of letting go and allowing that softer side glow? Here are just a few:
1. You Can’t Move Forward Until You’re Vulnerable
The most convincing reason to trust this new partner — even if you’re terrified out of your mind? — it’s impossible to begin a healthy relationship without building that foundation. “As the relationship grows and you become closer and closer, you need to begin to let down your defenses in order to develop emotional intimacy,” Abrell says. But the key, she says, is to not reveal too much, too soon. While you might want to unload it all, Abrell advises to let the relationship progress naturally without delaying it — or rushing it.
“Emotionally healthy individuals will find themselves desiring to pull back emotionally from their partner, without fully understanding why. They typically leave the relationship saying things like, ‘She was just too emotionally intense!’ or "He was just so 'out there' with his feelings!" Furthermore, there's absolutely no benefit to rushing things in a relationship,” she says. “This impulse typically comes from someone who hopes to "lock in" their partner. But again, TMI tends to do the opposite — it pushes people away (at least the healthy ones!)”
2. It Stops You From Wasting Your Time
We all have some sort of freak flag, so why shouldn’t we let them fly high and mighty? Those unique things that you may think turn people off will actually turn the right people on. “Being vulnerable helps you weed out who is truly people who deserve to be in your life, and those who do not,” psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC tells Bustle. “Being vulnerable with people is entrusting them with the most delicate and deepest part of you. It allows you to see who is worthy of your trust, and who is not to be trusted.”
3. It Indicates You’ve Let Go Of the Past
We all have sour experiences from past relationships, and probably ones that are harder to move on from than others. But when you truly let your guard down with someone new, you’re showing them — and well, yourself — that you’re prepared (and excited!) to move forward with something new. “You also show that you've taken time to heal and that you won't let bitterness from the past taint your perception of your current relationship,” Abrell says. “Your vulnerability indicates that you're willing to own your mistakes, learn from them, and move on—a wiser and better version of yourself.”
4. It Shows You Know You’re Awesome
“Vulnerability is a good indication that you truly and deeply love yourself, and everything about yourself. In order to be vulnerable, we take the chance that others will reject us or hurt us,” Martinez says. “However, if we love ourselves, we can accept this and move forward from it. We can take comfort in the belief that we are a good person, and we do not need someone in our lives who can not see that.” You heard the Biebs - go on and love yourself! And let someone else love you, too.
5. It’s Empowering
You might think you’re protecting your heart by keeping it close, but you’re also holding yourself back from what could be a truly remarkable experience. Even if this new relationship doesn’t work out or isn’t the one that last forever and ever, it will teach you something new. And help you grow. How empowering is it to say that instead of choosing to hide away, you’re choosing to take a chance on love? “While some might view vulnerability as a weakness, it is actually a strength and a decision that is all our own,” Martinez says.
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