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Intimacy: Vulnerability

Opening ourselves up to one another is how we get close. It's risky, but required for real intimacy.

If we want to build closeness with others, we have to open up and let them in. We need them to do the same for us.

When we open ourselves up and others keep up their walls, it can make us feel exposed while they choose 100% safety. Usually when that happens, we make the choice not to expose ourselves again, or get much more careful doing it.

If we wait for others to drop their walls before we drop ours, then we are the person in the previous scenario choosing safety while they choose openness.

We can choose to take steps toward being open, by doing it ourselves and asking others to do the same.

Talking about our vulnerability is part of how we open up. Sharing what we need to be vulnerable can help you get support.

When I tell you something sensitive or private about me, you feel like you know me more. We see each other for real. It makes us feel connected, human, and vulnerable. When it goes well, you might want to do the same in return.

Self-disclosure treated with care leads to more self-disclosure. When I share, you share, we share, we build intimacy.

When we are open, we can get hurt. WE can also choose to heal that hurt and step away from the thing that injured us. If something keeps injuring you, consider why you are choosing to stay or go.

Asking for help is a kind of vulnerability. When someone asks for help, and you provide it, then you have demonstrated you are trustworthy and reliable, someone safe. They feel cared for and close to you.

Vulnerability is gendered in American society. People raised as girls and women are taught to share their feelings and be open to one another. They are also often taught to use feelings as weapons.

People raised as boys and men are taught to hold their feelings in and keep emotional distance. They are taught to use physical behaviour to show or manage their feelings.

People who are marginalized because of their gender or sexuality often hold their feelings in and hide their safety. Then we get lonely.

Ways to be vulnerable and build intimacy:

  • Tell someone you trust something about you that people don't know and ask for their support with it.

  • Thank someone for being open and vulnerable with you, and be vulnerable in return.

  • Listen, accept, validate others' experiences and share your own.

  • Accept others vulnerability as a sign they may not be ready for the closeness you're ready for or want.

Whether we like it or not, humans are vulnerable. Even when we are though, hold in our feelings, they don't just go away. They can fester, they bury deep into our bodies and can cause physical trauma.

Trying to be invulnerable often leads to poor mental health, coping by (ab)using substances that can harm the body, isolation, harm to self/others, and loneliness.

Connecting builds community and safety.

Social Media Post to Share with Friends.

Want to share this information with someone on social media? Check out Cooper's "Intimacy" post on Instagram @supportpupcooper. Check out his Sex Ed Posts highlights to find all the sex ed posts easily.

Want support with your sexuality or relationships?

Support Pup Cooper is a coach and educator who helps pups and kinksters with their sexuality and relationships. He can support all kinds of goals, like improving your sex life, getting more from your relationships, understanding yourself, exploring kink and pup life, and more!

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