Love And Vulnerability

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“We are never so vulnerable as when we love.”
– Sigmund Freud

We usually don’t think of loving relationships as inspiring vulnerability. Just the opposite actually, we feel safe and supported, that we can be ourselves without any fear. The loving relationships are exactly where we can let our freak flags fly, where we can feel comfortable in our own skins. So what was Freud talking about?

In the existential sense, it’s the preliminary stage, the act of opening ourselves up to the other, showing who and what we really are, taking off our masks for the first time, that makes us vulnerable. We hope for acceptance but we know that rejection is a possibility. This type of vulnerability is why many are incapable of authentic human connection. They keep their guards up, even in and sometimes especially in their intimate relationships because of the perceived emotional pain that would result from getting rejected after showing the deepest layers of who they are.

But without knowledge there can be no love, only an approximation of love. How can you love someone if you don’t know who they are, how can you be loved if they don’t know who you are? And in order to know and be known vulnerability is a prerequisite. When you’re able to pass through this early stage unscathed you get to the good stuff, to the deep intimacy and connection, to the feelings of safety and security, but you’ve got to take the emotional risk of opening yourself up first if you want to to get there. Otherwise the relationship will remain superficial and love will elude you.