Relationships need vulnerability and teamwork

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Photo by Jackie Vang

Open. Exposed. Vulnerable.

What do you associate with these words? It could be pain or fear, maybe spite or hatred for someone who hurt you when you were at your most vulnerable — I know for myself that this used to be the definition that fit best.

In truth, these words describe quite the opposite of hatred. They describe honest love.

People will tell you that in order to be loved, you must first love yourself. I’ll respond by saying that you deserve to be loved, regardless of where you’re at in the project of loving yourself, but so does the person loving you.

To give them the love they deserve, you have to love yourself first.

Being open, exposed and vulnerable in a relationship won’t feel comfortable until you can do it with yourself. The person you are intimate with deserves what you deserve — honesty and truth, loving touches, kind words and the occasional criticism when they need that push to do better.

We spend a lot of the time protecting our feelings from being exposed, from interrogating them, but this is one of the tests of a loving relationship. You deserve to be told when you are doing something hurtful to your friends, family or yourself.

Your intimate lover is your best friend, hero and greatest adversary all in one.

Love is about openness, because you have to be willing to expose truths that are weighing you down. It is exposing yourself, either physically or emotionally, to someone and trusting that you’ve formed a bond strong enough to communicate with each other.

In an ever more confusing world, the greatest thing somebody can do for you, and you for them in return, is be consistent, and be someone that they know is there to help, criticize, support and confront them when they need it.

There is nothing more vulnerable than being a naked soul in front of somebody who you love most. They could turn you away, not give you the appreciation you felt you needed, or betray your trust.

The fact of the matter is that relationships are a team sport comprised of individuals.

It can be hard to forget that your partner can’t read your mind sometimes, especially when you feel so connected. It’s your duty to each other to give strength when it is needed.

For example, if your partner is trying to get in shape but hasn’t been working out, confront them on this goal in a respectful and encouraging way, embodying a supportive role. Remind them of the goal and ask if they’re still committed to it, and why. Maybe they haven’t even noticed they’ve slipped.

If your partner is not satisfying you intimately, whether that be physically or emotionally, they deserve to be reminded. Sometimes we assume they’re doing it on purpose when they may be more willing than we know to give us the love we deserve.

It’s up to you to think carefully about how things could be improved, and communicate. Maybe your partner disagrees, or maybe they point out that they’ve felt different since something about you changed that you hadn’t notice until now.

The beauty of a relationship is that you have an extra set of eyes watching out for you.

Of course, if your partner isn’t doing the same for you, this is something to talk to them about as well.

We all need to be reminded sometimes. You shouldn’t feel like you’re the only one responsible for maintaining your relationship.

Some people think the best thing about a relationship is the honeymoon stage when everything is about your love and nothing can bring you down. While it’s a magical time, the best parts come later.

The more you know your intimate best friend, the more comfortable you feel being open —vulnerably exposing deep parts of yourself and knowing that there is enough trust and respect between you for honesty.

In an ever more confusing world, the greatest thing somebody can do for you, and you for them in return, is be consistent, and be someone that they know is there to help, criticize, support and confront them when they need it.

The privilege and joy of sharing life with an utterly honest individual, and being that person for your partner in return, is the healthiest thing a relationship can have.


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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.