How To Practice Vulnerability In Relationships

Updated February 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Vulnerability describes the willingness to show one’s feelings and allow their authentic self, including their weaknesses, to be seen by others. This is crucial for emotional intimacy and bonding with other people, especially in romantic relationships. Difficulty with vulnerability is common, even among those who express a desire to build a strong, close partnership.

In surface-level relationships, a lack of vulnerability isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, in a romantic relationship, vulnerability is vital for success. Being vulnerable can often involve a sense of uncertainty, risk, and emotional honesty that many of us might be new to. Even though it may feel uncomfortable, the ability to be vulnerable can be both healthy and important.

You may wonder, though, why vulnerability is so imperative and how you can begin to practice vulnerability in relationships. 

Why Vulnerability Is Crucial For Relationship Success

Opening Up Can Be Hard To Do

You may have some understanding of how vulnerability can help a relationship, but you could still have some questions. You may want to know why is it so crucial and what  the potential advantages of practicing vulnerability in relationships are. Understanding the positive results that vulnerability can have might be the first step to being more vulnerable with your partner. With that in mind, here are some of the potential positive impacts that vulnerability can have on a romantic relationship:

  • Vulnerability allows you to achieve open communication.  When you are vulnerable, you’re less likely to withhold information or leave your partner wondering what you feel or think. This is critical for the health of a relationship.

  • Vulnerability makes you less likely to repress emotions and needs. Romantic partners are often part of a person’s support system. Emotional repression or suppression can have negative physical, psychological, and social consequences. For example, it can lead to irritability, trouble sleeping, increased physical stress markers, strained relationships, and feelings of depression. In a relationship, you want to know what’s going on for one another internally, and you want to know how to support each other—the ability to be vulnerable permits this to happen.

  • Vulnerability isn’t always about the difficult aspects of a relationship. It can also include positive thoughts, feelings, and desires. For example, maybe you seek additional depth in your relationship or want to be more romantic with each other. You might wish to try new things sexually with your partner, go on more dates, or write love letters. If you fear vulnerability, you might shy away from revealing your desire for these things or telling your partner how you feel. Communicating your affection toward your partner will likely impact you positively. Additionally, when you express desires you might have within a relationship, it can give you clarity and strengthen the relationship. 

  • Vulnerability allows you and your partner to understand each other more. If you aren’t vulnerable in your relationship, there are some things that you may never know about each other. 

  • It may seem counterintuitive, but vulnerability can provide a sense of safety. Sometimes, difficulty with vulnerability can correlate with insecure attachment. Attachment theory in psychology relates to the way you form attachments to other people, and it is often referenced in the context of romantic partnerships. Secure attachment within this theory tends to be the goal, and that might look like consistency (i.e., consistent affection and knowing where you stand), trust, autonomy, and deeper feelings of intimacy. When you’re able to be vulnerable, your relationship may start to feel more safety because you will be more open with each other. 

Perhaps you want to achieve greater vulnerability but don’t know where to start. Below, we’ll cover some steps you can take that may be beneficial. Finding real and true worth and belonging in relationships often requires self-disclosure, self-expression, self-exploration, self-discovery, self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-acceptance. 

How To Be More Vulnerable In Your Relationships

If you want to know how to be more vulnerable in your relationships, here are some steps to consider:

Think about why you want to be more vulnerable.

  • If you have recently acknowledged a need to be more vulnerable, there’s likely a reason for this. Maybe you want a close, serious relationship, and a fear of vulnerability is holding you back. Perhaps you’re in a serious relationship already and want to strengthen it. Since becoming more vulnerable and open with the people in your life can be intimidating, keeping this goal in mind can be beneficial because it reminds you why you don’t want to back away.

Discuss vulnerability with your partner.

  • If you’re in a relationship and want to be more vulnerable, you can start by opening a conversation about vulnerability with your partner. Think about what you want vulnerability in your relationship to look like and talk about how to communicate with your partner. Consider how you will  broach these topics in the future and how you can prevent yourself from backsliding. If you feel that your partner is someone who sometimes has an emotional wall up, it is crucial to note that you both have to be dedicated to communication to break that pattern.

Work on your sense of emotional safety.

  • Sometimes, a perceived lack of emotional safety holds people back from being vulnerable in their relationships, romantic or otherwise. This can stem from adverse experiences in childhood or even adulthood. Working on your sense of emotional safety might look like positive self-talk. For example, you might say to yourself, “I am safe”. It can also look like working to build trust with a romantic partner.

Utilize individual or couple’s counseling.

  • Having a therapist or counselor on your side can be  helpful as you learn to be more vulnerable. Some people will pursue individual therapy to help with this, including those who are single and in search of a relationship and those who are already in one. If you’re in an existing relationship, you may find couples therapy or counseling advantageous. Therapy is a safe space to start being more vulnerable and work on anything else that could impact your relationship or your life. You can find a therapist to work with within your local area, or you may consider online therapy.

Understand that planning can be involved.

  • If you have something to say that makes you feel vulnerable, it is okay to think about how you want to relay it first. You can have a plan, and you can even discuss it with a counselor or therapist. Sometimes, communication doesn’t come easily or naturally, and even though it may become more so over time, this can help you communicate the things you want in the meantime. Some people even role-play in therapy when they want to communicate something to someone in their life, but they feel apprehensive about it. It’s a way to practice conversations that may be tough, such as those that are vulnerable.

Opening up more or becoming more vulnerable may not be something that happens overnight. It’s recommended that you use self-compassion and remember that this is a process. 

Online Therapy

Opening Up Can Be Hard To Do

In-person therapy may not be the best fit for a person who is experiencing issues with vulnerability. Online therapy may be a better option. Some people report feeling more comfortable discussing sensitive topics when talking with a mental health professional via a screen rather than in-person. This form of therapy can also be accessed from home, which can make the process more convenient. 

There have been many promising studies in the field of mental health related to online therapy. One recent study showed that therapy relayed via videoconferencing enhanced the therapeutic alliance and gave individuals more opportunities for connection and self-expression. 

BetterHelp has improved continuously throughout the years, and over 20,000 independent and licensed mental health professionals offer therapy on the online platform. You can chat via phone, messaging, or video call during sessions, or instant message in your moments of need outside of sessions. Our therapists have a range of different specialties, and when you sign up, you’ll answer a short series of questions that’ll help our team match you with a professional who meets your needs. 


You deserve to have strong relationships and achieve the best quality of life possible, and a qualified professional can help.  Join BetterHelp or read our FAQs and therapist reviews to learn more.

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started