SELF-PROTECTION & SELF EXPOSURE – WHERE IS THE BALANCE IN A RELATIONSHIP?

If you have been in a relationship you would at some point reached the point where you had to go all in. Confronted by a basic, human dilemma in emotional intimacy… self-exposure. 

You are vulnerable when you allow yourself to project something misaligned with your core self.

As we open up and reveal our inner feelings, motivations, and life experiences, we let them, see more of our personality, the true version of self, and less of the characters that we have been playing. Our partners see us for who we truly are!

Self-exposure opens the door to profound love, connection, and fulfilment... a foundation that we all should start our relationships with in hindsight.

It’s usually when you decided to be you that you avoid playing a character for the needs of another and become who YOU truly want! Either your partner accept you or they don’t. Either way you are a winner in my eyes.

Opening yourself up for judgement can at times feel risky and scary. The same vulnerability and openness that lays the groundwork for rewarding intimacy also gives your partner the power to emotionally abuse that trust. 

Sometimes you will choose the wrong partner – avoid transference. Just because one did, doesn’t mean they all will.

Betrayal, abandonment, and rejection have a far more potent sting at the hands of someone you are in love with than some passing fling. If you can love to the power of ten then you can swing the other way and hate equally. This doesn’t mean you should keep the reigns tight either.

Because of this, it is understandably tempting for people to want to take the road of self-protection and put up a sort of emotional buffer to defend against being hurt deeply. But without taking risks, they can’t get as close, it really is as simple as that!

Should you be open, true to you from the beginning?

Absolutely.

Ultimately, the choice between these two paths is a delicate tightrope walk as people adjust how much they move toward vulnerability or self-protection.

If they sense that their partner is a reliable, understanding, loving presence that will stand by them, they’re apt to take healthy chances as they reach for connection. But if they worry their partner will burn them, they’re more liable to don their emotional armour to defend themselves, and this armour can take various unhealthy forms, such as:

  1. They keep their eyes peeled for any signs that their partner doesn’t care about them or the relationship. Often manifesting something into nothing. 
  1. They emotionally shut down and distance themselves from their partner, with little verbal reasoning. 
  1. They find fault with their partner or behave rudely toward them, attempting to belittle in the need to self elevate.

So what can be done? How can you resist the understandable urge to put up your shield when uncertainty, anxiety, and insecurity arise? In other words, how can you help prevent self-protection from sabotaging you and the potential good that may come as a result of being in a healthy, loving relationship?

Build your self-worth, independence and non-reliance.

People who don’t feel good have less faith in their partner’s love than people with higher self-regard. They’re also more inclined to mentally take their partner down a peg to feel less vulnerable. When you want your partner and do not need them, the whole dynamic changes.

Be you from the beginning.

If you act like someone else then change several months later you cannot blame when they head for the door. They should accept you for all the good and the bad; if they don’t, then you have to question how long you can keep it up for, trust me it is tiring having to be someone other than yourself to avoid conflict. I had 16 years of it.

Reward and don’t forget to be kind.

Remember the times when your partner was there for you. When people recall fond memories of their partner being responsive to them and their needs, they’re more likely to feel happier with their partner later. It isn’t always about give and take but if you are told that it shouldn’t be conditional then you are wrong! Conditions make relationships work! If you want your partner to cook for you once per week and that’s part of the relationship deal then make it happen, these small rewards boost the relationship and keep the individuality needed, you don’t want to merge into one. 

Don’t cheat. 

The biggest fear in any relationship and the one that will smash any internal values. If you are looking elsewhere then you have to make the stand and leave. Don’t think that the ‘innocent’ messages won’t hurt, or offer a little emotional boost without anyone knowing because they will. Much of the pain and hurt from an emotional affair is due to the deception, lies, and feelings of being betrayed, this at times can be worse than the physical sexual desire.

If you fear them cheating, the likelihood is that you are really reflecting on your own ability to do wrong.  

In summary, as I said at the beginning, self-exposure opens the door to profound love, connection, and fulfilment... a foundation that we all should start our relationships with in hindsight, and it is true.

Opening the doors to a true version of ‘self’ removes any need to hide behind characters and builds a better foundation for your future. If you are being someone else for someone else then now is the time to look at the “why”.

Everyone deserves to be loved. With over 7 billion people on the planet, there is someone just for you. Perhaps if you aren’t in a relationship, now could be the time to look a little further, putting self-first.

If you need to work on your relationship then book a one to one therapy session with me Benjamin Bonetti. More details can be found on the booking page.

Click here to secure your therapy appointment.

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