“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.
– Joyce Brothers
It’s only recently that vulnerability as come to signify a positive attribute in intimate relationships. The word stems from vulnus, Latin for wound, and meant to be open to attach or damage. Most superheroes and gods are invulnerable–that’s that makes them superheroes and gods. But each of them has a secret weakness, or there would be no stories. Achilles’ mother dipped him in the river of invulnerability as a baby–his entire body but the heel where she held him–thus his one susceptibility gave death a portal. And most of us have many more vulnerabilities than Achilles.
So the fact that a term denoting the weakest link has come to be associated with emotional intimacy is a sign of advancing civilization. There’s little need for the physical self-reliance of our pioneer ancestors; the world’s threats have become so subtle and pervasive that most historical defense strategies are futile in modern times. As a result, we find that only through identifying, accepting, and processing our fragility with trusted others can we transform weakness into strength.
To embrace vulnerability implies trust. We bravely trust those around us not to hurt us; we must trust loved ones with our well-being, our emotional states, in some cases with our lives. To be hurt by friends and family can be painful, but to be wounded where we make love can leave us withdrawing forever because we’re at our most vulnerable when we’re both physically and emotionally naked. So in a way, anyone who has sex is vulnerable. Honoring this fact can create a sacred space that further engenders connection, identification, and caring.
– Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss, The Center for Healthy Sex, Daily Meditations, December 4, 2016