Many people complain that they aren’t getting their needs met in a relationship, but they don’t feel comfortable being open and clear about their desires. Or, they fail to ask in a positive, non-blameful way to begin with. In other words, they don’t know the importance of asking for what they want.
Truth be told, there are many situations that arise after a life transformation such as a break-up or divorce that call on us to be more transparent and ask for help. Life can feel overwhelming and developing a mindset of “we’re in this together” can help you cope with starting over and embarking on new healthy relationships that can be supportive and growth-enhancing.
Being vulnerable means being authentic and being able to risk expressing your thoughts, feelings, and wishes. It means you are in control of yourself, not the relationship.
Before you can begin to build successful relationships, you must be vulnerable and learn to rely on others – which means letting go of the belief that you can’t trust people. One of the first things to consider is getting rid of all those self-defeating thoughts in your head – such as calling yourself “stupid” that won’t help you express your needs clearly and effectively. It’s actually smart to ask for help because emotionally intelligent people have embraced the notion that relationships are our teachers.
For example, Tom and Melinda, both in their mid-forties, are a couple who I met with for counseling and they both shared that Melinda’s self-esteem issues and mistrust were leftover baggage from her first marriage and contributed to their communication problems. They described issues involving Melinda not being open and honest about sharing when her younger brother Sam (who she raised) borrowed money with Tom. She often withheld this information from Tom due to fear of rejection or not wanting to deal with Tom’s disapproval.
Tom reflects: “I know that I can get defensive and critical of Melinda when it comes to loaning Sam money. But the facts are that when she is honest with me and tells me up front, I’m not blindsided and so don’t get angry. I care about my brother-in-law and he is a good kid. I also realize that Melinda is like his mom (their parents died suddenly when he was in high school). I love my wife and don’t want her to be so afraid of my response that she feels she has to keep secrets from me.”
Being Vulnerable and using “I” statements will Increase Intimacy
When Melinda is vulnerable and communicates that she needs Tom’s support to help her brother, it can actually bring them closer because she is taking a risk and honestly expressing her needs and desires to him. In turn, he feels more comfortable expressing the tender feelings he has toward Sam and his desire to help him.
For example, Melinda might use a “You” statement and say to Tom: “I feel worried about telling you that I gave Sam a loan so he can move. When you express disapproval about me helping him, it makes me feel upset because I don’t feel you trust that he’ll pay us back.” Whereas a “You” statement or message might be: “You never trust Sam so that’s why I didn’t tell you about loaning him money. It seems like you get mad when you can’t control our money.”
Think about the impact of each statement on this couple’s communication and level of trust and intimacy. Using a “You” message will most likely cause Tom to feel defensive and to get angrier at Melinda whereas using an “I” statement promotes good communication.
The Importance of Asking For Help: Here are 6 Reasons Why
- By being vulnerable, you are opening the door to intimacy. Love means risking occasionally getting your feelings hurt; it’s a price you have to pay for intimacy because you and your partner are being open and vulnerable with each other.
- Real love starts with you. The more you know and understand what makes you tick and ask for what you need, the better prepared you’ll be to invite a partner into your life to create a successful relationship. It will also help to build stronger friendships because others will sense your authenticity.
- It helps you to be a team player and this can give you strength. There will always be those who don’t agree or approve of your words or actions. Asking for help can allow your partner and others to recognize that you are open to their opinions and want to collaborate.
- You will learn to treat yourself with respect and compassion rather than judging yourself.It will help you pay attention to your own needs and feelings rather than ignoring them.
- You will become more assertive. Asking for what you need from your partner is about being vulnerable and inviting intimacy. Be sure to start with an “I” message such as “I would love for you to plan a night out for us. I am longing for more time alone with you.”
- Asking for help will increase your self-confidence. The more open and willing you are to assert your needs in a positive way, the more confident you will be that you can rely on others and still be strong.
Being vulnerable and asking for support may not always be easy but over time it becomes more natural. Many people were raised with a mindset of being self-reliant and it takes time and practice to let down your shield and to let others be there for you. I wish all the best on your journey of love, trust, and intimacy!
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