Many of us want our current/future relationship to be built on trust, closeness, and intimacy. But many of us have been hurt, and we don’t want to be hurt again. The problem is, we can’t foster an amazing relationship with true intimacy without being vulnerable. We need to realise it will always be risky, but defining the boundaries can help.
I was chatting and catching up with a good friend recently. She has been married for a few months now, so I was asking how married life was going.
She was raving about it, and glad they’d been able to settle in quickly. Not that it had all be easy, but it was going well. And she started to talk about how great it was because she really felt like she could trust him, and the intimacy and closeness had continued to grow.
She found it hard to trust because of past relationships
She had been let down in past relationships and so when they started dating she had been a bit reserved and worried. But over time she was able to be more and more vulnerable, and he was doing the same and not letting her down.
There was real intimacy, which isn’t to do with sex, but closeness, and having someone you can trust and rely on.
She found it hard to trust because of past relationships and thought a relationship with closeness and intimacy might never happen. She said it was hard but glad it had worked out for them.
It’s A Risk
The questions this chat raises for us are ones I come across a lot. There are many people who ask me questions about relationships, what to do, or avoid doing, especially if they have been hurt in the past. The thing is, falling in love, starting a romantic relationship, is risky. We could, unfortunately, get hurt.
I wish it was risk-free. But if we want a relationship that’s stable, that’s built on trust, where we can be honest and real, we need to be vulnerable. We need to talk about the things that worry us, that have hurt us, and be able to trust the other person with the good and bad bits.
We sometimes think we should hold back and put up walls
Obviously, this takes time. I’m not saying we should reveal all on the first date. But because of past hurts, or because society tells us to be self-sufficient, or whatever, we sometimes think we should hold back and put up walls.
However, without vulnerability, closeness and intimacy can’t happen.
Designed For Intimacy
I’m reminded of the Adam and Eve story and how God’s good design is for people to be close and free from shame or separation.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…
We’re designed to be close and have intimacy with God and others, (in romantic relationships and non-romantic one, this isn’t just for married people,) with no shame or fear. We’re designed to be close, but that means being vulnerable. (Read Reflecting God’s Image Is Found In Plurality.)
We’re designed to be close and have intimacy with God and others
We may need to take a risk in romantic relationships, but that doesn’t mean we need to be unwise.
You need to start/keep talking about what faithfulness means to you both. Where your boundaries are and what you expect. Is cheating just physical stuff? Is telling a close friend details you’re not sharing with each other a problem? What other situation could hurt you?
You may not want to go into too much detail as to why if it’s a new relationship and the reason is due to a past hurt, but you need to make it clear where the lines are. Outline what you’re expecting from each other. (Read I Want To Trust Them, But I’ve Been Hurt Before)
Communicating About The Boundaries
You also need to decide how you communicate these boundaries. Sounds simple right, you just talk?! Well actually, that isn’t always the case. For some people, just sitting down and talking is hard. Sometimes doing something can help. Or having little conversations rather than one big one.
Sometimes avoiding a deep conversation at a certain time, when you’re tired for example, is better.
People are different, all couples are different. But having a time and clear way to talk about this means you can navigate the annoyance and rough patches in a healthy way and make sure you’re still on the same page. (Read How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed)
Being vulnerable is risky, but we can be wise about it
Relationships are amazing, and are meant to be a blessing, but they can also hurt us. If we want to foster intimacy, we need to learn to be vulnerable. Intimacy and closeness can’t be created unless we are being real and honest, and we need to create a way to do that. Create boundaries together so that you know you’re putting your trust in someone who is on the same page.
Imagine if in our relationships, or in our future relationships, we were clear about our boundaries, expectations and how to talk about them. Being vulnerable is risky, but we can be wise about it.
Do you think someone could be intimate without being vulnerable? Comments welcomed below.