Being vulnerable is often related to being needed in our society. Most people think that if someone is being vulnerable to them or sharing feelings, they need them. However, that is not necessary. Sometimes, vulnerability might not be backed by need. People are usually looking for someone to share their deep thoughts with. It could be anything they feel uncomfortable sharing with other people. If you also think that vulnerability and neediness go hand in hand, keep reading this article to learn how to be vulnerable without being needy.
What is Vulnerability?
Before discussing how you can be vulnerable without being needy, it is important to understand vulnerability. Recognizing the difference between vulnerability and neediness helps you express your emotions better.
Oxford Languages define vulnerability as “The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”
In simple words, vulnerability in psychology means allowing someone to know you well enough to be able to harm you. Mostly, it refers to telling someone the parts about you that you usually do not share with others. So, when they know what others do not, they might take advantage of the situation. However, it is not the same for everyone.
Vulnerability in relationships is considered positive. It shows that you confide in the other person and trust them. It acts as the foundation of a long-term relationship. Being vulnerable allows both partners to connect on a deeper level. It depicts that what you have with each other is different from your connection with others. Being vulnerable also allows the other person to respect your emotions and avoid intentional or unintentional actions that hurt you.
Still, sometimes vulnerability may feel like neediness. To be vulnerable without need, it is important first to know the difference between the two.
Vulnerability vs Neediness
Most people do not realize that being vulnerable and needy are two opposite ends of the relationship spectrum. Vulnerability brings your partner towards you by showing a softer side. Opposed to the popular opinion that men find vulnerability attractive, women feel equally the same about it.
Vulnerability shows that person’s space in your life and your courage to open up. It also helps develop a deeper level of intimacy by allowing your partner to see the side of you nobody knows of. On the other hand, neediness can be draining and sucks the energy out of your partner. As both typically involve an expression of emotion, many people confuse vulnerability with neediness. You can follow the following tips to be vulnerable without being needy:
How to be Vulnerable Without Being Needy
Express your Feelings Calmly
The most critical element of being vulnerable without being needy is to be calm. When people try to open up, and the other person takes some time to understand them, they get defensive. Sharing your deep emotions with someone is already something most of us dread. So, when you gather the courage to talk about how you feel, be confident and calm. You can share positive as well as negative emotions.
If you feel shy or awkward talking to your partner about your feelings, start with the good parts. Tell them about your day. Talk to them about something funny that happened in the past. Don’t worry! You will not be stuck there forever.
With time, you will learn to open up more and share deeper emotions with that person. Take it slow with a “one-thing-at-a-time” strategy to step out of your comfort zone.
Many of you may still be wondering why being vulnerable is a good idea when the definition mentions that it can harm you.
Most relationships fail because the partners do not communicate with each other. They deliberately keep hiding their emotions and needs from the other person. Eventually, it becomes too much to handle. And when you talk about it, the other person cannot process it because you never mentioned any such thing earlier.
So, experts suggest being honest about your needs with your partner. It could range from something as small as getting coffee in the morning to as huge as moving to another country. Also, let them know about your emotional needs and if they hurt you. This will create an environment of trust and encourage communication.
Pick your Words Carefully
Being vulnerable is an emotional state we usually do not have control over. You might have a breakdown in the middle of the day and want to share the incident with your significant other. Or you might want to share something but instead, say a sentence that makes you sound needy instead of vulnerable. This is also known as negative vulnerability. It comes out as desperate and dependent.
For example, you might say, “I need to talk to you right now, and you are unavailable. You don’t care about me.” This shows neediness and desperation. At the same time, you can say, “I so needed to talk to you right now as I feel safe and calm after talking to you.” When the other person realizes that you acknowledge their presence but are not clingy, they will be more receptive to your emotions.
Now, the question arises, “What is positive vulnerability besides this one sentence?” Being positively vulnerable is not only about not being clingy. It is also about expressing your feelings so that the other person does not become defensive. You may also talk about your relationship and discuss matters you have been avoiding for some time. But choose a concerned tone instead of an attacking one.
Be Open about your Past
Many times men and women repress their past from their partners. But you cannot hide the past, can you?
So, when you are comfortable around your partner, it is okay to talk to them about your past. You can share about your family, friends, or even past relationships, if necessary. If an old relationship ended because of something particular and you fear the same in your relationship, you must not hesitate to discuss it with your partner.
You can start with good memories and gradually share the dark parts of your past when you see that they understand you.
Be Willing to Forgive
This may come as something new to people who do not know much about vulnerability. You may think, “how is this related to being vulnerable?” But it is.
When you are being vulnerable, you may double-think sharing a few incidents. It might seem like you are giving out a lot of information. Sometimes, you might feel bad about sharing some incidents you hold yourself responsible for. Yet remember that it’s okay.
You must be willing to forgive yourself and your partner when you are vulnerable. Being forgiving allows you to share what you are afraid to share. It also makes you more receptive to your partner’s feelings and responses. The willingness to forgive also improves your mental health.
When a person is vulnerable, the other person might also have some input. While sometimes people are not able to offer a suitable response to the other’s emotions, it’s not always the same. Often your partner might try to give you advice or say something to make you feel better. It is important to be mentally present and listen to their advice without being overreactive. Maintaining control over your emotions when vulnerable allows you to strengthen your relationship and maintain a better relationship with your partner. Remember that the other person will only be receptive to your emotions when you are willing to find solutions to the problems you share. So, make sure not to be offended when someone offers you suggestions while you open up about your feelings. You may tell them that you only want to be heard at that moment. But do not disregard their input.
Avoid Multiple Messages
Sometimes men and women send multiple messages to their partners when they feel vulnerable. They do not realize that the other person could be busy. Sometimes, these messages may be abusive or offensive to the other person.
Thus, it is important not to bombard the other person with multiple messages. Consider their circumstances and do not take offense when they do not reply. They may get frustrated and find you needy when you are vulnerable. It can negatively impact the relationship instead of bringing you closer.
Be Open to Exploring
Exploring new places together can be an excellent way to be vulnerable in a relationship. This may also mean experiencing new things outside of your comfort zone. It allows you to build a relationship over mutual interests. And it’s so attractive when your partner teaches you something with love!
Sit with your partner and think of a few adventures you and him have always looked forward to. It may include going to the next street to enjoy good food or experiencing bungee jumping off a cliff. It will allow you to delve into your partner’s personality and understand their hidden aspects.
How does Neediness Interfere with Vulnerability?
We talked about how neediness is different from vulnerability and that you should be vulnerable but not needy. But why?
Neediness is defined as an inability to receive. You just think within yourself that you need the other person but do not receive the support when the other person offers. On the other hand, vulnerability allows you to share what you feel without overburdening the other person.
The Bottom Line
Vulnerability and neediness are often confused, which makes it difficult for people to be vulnerable, even to the closest people. Vulnerability in a relationship lets you open up to your loved ones and strengthen the relationship based on trust. You must be open to sharing your emotions without seeming clingy. Be honest about your needs and take their responses positively. Express your feelings calmly and make sure you are sharing your emotions with the right person. Explore new aspects of each other’s personalities and share good and bad parts of your past. It will allow you to know more about each other and understand each other better.
Is being vulnerable needy?
Being vulnerable and needy are quite different to each other, but often misunderstood. They are the two ends of the spectrum. Neediness is the feeling of wanting someone to validate you and make you whole. At the same time, vulnerability refers to sharing your emotions and weaknesses to feel connected to the other person.
Do guys find vulnerability attractive?
Vulnerability is attractive to guys and girls as it shows that you trust them. Being vulnerable allows you to show your inner feelings and open up to them. It is a deeper level of intimacy that many people crave.
Why can’t I be vulnerable with anyone?
Most people are not vulnerable with anyone when they have developed trust issues due to past experiences. It may lead from abusive relationships or bad responses from their family members resulting from vulnerability. Opening up might not be easy but you must explore vulnerability in relationships to strengthen them. Start with the good parts of your life, eventually sharing deeper emotions.
Hi, my name is Eva. I am currently practicing as a clinical social worker, that being my childhood desire. As a licensed therapist holding MPhil in Clinical Psychology, I am now on biomadam to provide the natives with the best family advice! Do you have any questions? See you in the comment section.