To Love Is To Be Vulnerable: How To Open Up

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated April 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Building a trusting, supportive relationship often takes openness and honesty on the part of both individuals. Not everyone has an easy time opening up enough to foster this type of connection, though, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. It can be helpful to learn to express your feelings, let your partner help you, avoid retreating into your own mind, and tell yourself that you deserve to be loved. If embracing vulnerability continues to be a challenge, working with an individual or couples therapist online can be helpful.

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Online therapy can help you embrace vulnerability

How fear can hold you back

“To love is to be vulnerable”. You may have heard this expression—which is credited to writer C.S Lewis, from his book The Four Loves—or a variation of it before. But vulnerability can also be elusive at times. Sometimes, we may be afraid that it will leave us too open to the possibility of getting hurt, and other times we may simply not know how to practice it. 

Maybe you find yourself saying, “I want a boyfriend” or partner, but fear is holding you back. If you're scared of being vulnerable or getting too close to your partner, your relationship may not be as fulfilling as it could be. You may not be able to foster the type of intimacy and love that often comes with openness and transparency in a relationship. When you’re willing to show your true self to your partner, you are often opening the door to a deeper connection. 

One of the biggest reasons people are afraid to open up to their romantic partners can be that they don't want to be rejected. Some people are afraid that their partners will leave them if they show their true selves. This can be a leap of faith that we often must take in relationships so that we can form a stronger connection. 

If you’re feeling a sense of trepidation, know that the right partner for you will accept you for who you are when you’re vulnerable. While it can feel scary to open up, it can show your partner that you trust them and help them feel closer to you—and it may make them more likely to be vulnerable with you in return.

Express your feelings

Wondering how to express love and other emotions to your partner in a relationship? Honesty is often crucial in relationships, but it can be hard to be completely forthright and build a meaningful connection when partners aren’t practicing vulnerability. When you are truthful about your feelings, your thoughts, and what is going on in your life, it can be a lot easier for your partner to understand where you’re coming from and how to best be with you. It can make you feel exposed to have someone see you so completely, but this may be what true love is all about.


Try to be clear about your emotions and help your partner fill in the blanks when they want to know more about how you’re feeling. 

Being able to express your feelings properly can be important to you and your partner. Suppressing your emotions can impact not only your relationship but also your mental and physical health. When you can tell your partner what's on your mind, it may be that much easier for them to connect with you on all levels.

Try to avoid simple yes or no answers when your partner asks you questions, and instead, go into detail about how you're feeling. You can even practice being open and expressing yourself by discussing small things at first. Whether you're talking about a movie or how you felt about dinner, it can help to get into the habit of letting your partner know what’s on your mind.

Let your partner help you

It can be normal to want to do things on your own. We often want to feel self-sufficient and as though we don’t need to rely on others for encouragement, assistance, or advice. Part of what makes relationships rewarding, though, can be the mutual support that partners often provide each other. 

An important aspect of being vulnerable may be allowing your partner to help you when you need it. Your and your partner’s ability to rely on one another can strengthen your bond and give you the confidence you need in your relationship.  

It might be hard to let your partner help with certain things, and that may be okay. For example, if you have trauma from your past that you'd rather not discuss, then it may take time for you to go to your partner with those specific concerns. Over time, however, you might feel like you can go to each other for help with anything, which can bring you closer together. 

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Avoid retreating into your own head

A lot of people are naturally reserved or shy, which can mean they may prefer to exist in their own minds a lot of the time. This can be completely okay, but it can prevent your partner from knowing what you’re thinking or feeling. If you want to be more vulnerable, consider letting your partner see glimpses into what’s going on in your head, even if you do so slowly. For example, if you have a big meeting tomorrow, you might let your partner know how you feel about it. If you appreciate something your partner did for you, it can be nice to let them know you’re feeling grateful. 

People often need alone time, and it can be fine to want to spend time away from your partner. Try to remain communicative as you do so, though. Letting your partner know that you’d like to have some alone time—and why—can put them more at ease than if you simply shut down or avoid them. 

Tell yourself that you deserve to be loved

Another issue that people sometimes encounter is feeling like they aren't worthy of being loved. You might not be opening up to your significant other because you feel as though they won’t accept you for who you really are. But there's likely a reason your partner chose you—and they probably want to get to know every part of you.

Learning to love yourself can be important when you want to be capable of loving others completely. Most people have flaws that they feel self-conscious about, and many are afraid to be vulnerable because of them. Practicing self-acceptance can help you make peace with your imperfections and with other people seeing them.  

If you can focus on loving yourself, then you may be much more comfortable with the vulnerability of romantic love. If you need help working through concerns regarding self-confidence, a mental health professional can give you support and guidance. You don't have to face things alone, and you never have to feel as if you aren't worthy of being loved.

Consider online therapy

Online therapy can help you embrace vulnerability

Studies show that online therapy can be a valuable tool for helping couples learn to express themselves. In a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, the effects of online therapy for both satisfied couples and couples in distress were examined. The report begins by mentioning the treatment gap that exists when it comes to therapy. In general, only 19% of couples seek counseling due to common barriers, such as high costs, geographical and time constraints, and perceived stigma. Online couples therapy, researchers note, can be a way of getting around those barriers. The study states that online therapy can increase communication and relationship satisfaction in couples, in addition to improving individual mental health.

Online therapy platforms can be beneficial if you and your partner are looking to open up to each other. With online therapy, you can participate in sessions remotely, without having to worry about running into someone you know or discussing your treatment with anyone but your therapist. Read below for therapist reviews from those who have sought help with concerns in their relationships.

Therapist reviews

“David is a great listener and has helped me come a long way in overcoming my anxieties and issues in my relationship. He always makes me feel comfortable and is easy to talk with and express how I am feeling.”

“Pam has been an excellent resource for me and my husband. We truly appreciate her expertise. We feel like she truly understands why we chose to pursue counseling and we work very well with her. We highly recommend her!” 


At times, it can be hard to let someone in and open ourselves up in relationships. However, it can be possible to learn how to cope with these fears so that you can move toward a brighter future with your partner. Consider letting an online therapist be your ally so that you can practice vulnerability and continue developing a strong, healthy relationship. Aside from therapy, it can be helpful to tell yourself that you deserve to be loved, avoid retreating into your own mind, express your feelings, and let your partner help you.
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