Why Successful Love Requires Vulnerability

The School of Life
1 Mar 202306:22


TLDRThe video script explores the significance of vulnerability in intimate relationships, emphasizing that true connection requires the courage to reveal our authentic selves, including our weaknesses and fears. It argues that pretending to be invulnerable leads to a cycle of deception, preventing genuine understanding and emotional healing. The key message is that embracing vulnerability allows us to connect deeply with others, fostering a more honest and fulfilling concept of adulthood.


  • 💔 The importance of vulnerability in relationships is emphasized, stating that being emotionally open and honest is crucial for being a good lover.
  • 😶 Accepting our own weaknesses and sharing them with a partner allows us to show our true selves, embracing the full spectrum of our humanity.
  • 🎭 Vulnerability involves shedding the facade of normality and sensibleness, revealing our authentic selves to others.
  • 👶 Admitting vulnerability can bring childhood fears and insecurities to the surface, showing parts of us that are still like frightened children.
  • 🚫 Fear of vulnerability may stem from past experiences where expressing emotions was met with dismissal or ridicule.
  • 🧠 Understanding and challenging the beliefs that led us to suppress our vulnerability can be a healing process.
  • 🔍 Recognizing that everyone has their own follies and imperfections can help us feel less alone in our vulnerabilities.
  • 💪 Learning to be vulnerable can lead to a more profound understanding of adulthood, allowing us to embrace both strength and weakness.
  • 🤗 Finding a partner who accepts our vulnerability can be restorative, providing the empathy and understanding that we may have lacked in the past.
  • 🌱 Vulnerability in a relationship fosters a deeper connection, as it enables both partners to truly know and support each other.

Q & A

  • Why is being vulnerable considered essential in a loving relationship?

    -Being vulnerable in a loving relationship is essential because it allows individuals to show their true selves, including their weaknesses and fears, which in turn fosters a deeper emotional connection and understanding between partners.

  • What does the act of vulnerability reveal about a person's character?

    -The act of vulnerability reveals a person's courage and willingness to trust their partner with their innermost feelings and experiences, which are often associated with their humanity and the essence of who they are.

  • How does hiding one's vulnerability affect intimate relationships?

    -Hiding one's vulnerability can lead to a prison of mutual deception, where both partners are unable to truly know and understand each other, resulting in a lack of emotional depth and connection in the relationship.

  • What are some common ways people might express their vulnerability?

    -People might express their vulnerability by admitting to desires such as being comforted or reassured, showing emotions like anxiety or paranoia, or displaying behaviors reminiscent of childhood, such as hugging a stuffed animal.

  • Why do some individuals reject the idea of being vulnerable?

    -Some individuals reject vulnerability because they have been conditioned to believe that showing weakness is undesirable or because they have had to adopt a tough exterior to cope with their own unaddressed emotional needs.

  • What is the significance of acknowledging one's childhood vulnerabilities in an adult relationship?

    -Acknowledging one's childhood vulnerabilities in an adult relationship allows for a deeper level of understanding and empathy between partners, as it connects to the fundamental human experiences of fear, need, and longing for comfort that are shared by all.

  • How can a person begin to learn vulnerability?

    -A person can begin to learn vulnerability by recognizing the misguided advice and behaviors from their past that taught them to suppress their true feelings, and by seeking out relationships where they can practice openness and receive understanding and empathy.

  • What is the paradox that individuals who fear vulnerability often experience?

    -The paradox is that those who fear vulnerability and have built protective shells around themselves are often the most in need of the very empathy and understanding they fear will expose their weaknesses.

  • How does embracing vulnerability contribute to a more authentic adulthood?

    -Embracing vulnerability contributes to a more authentic adulthood by allowing individuals to acknowledge and address their emotional needs, leading to personal growth, stronger relationships, and a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be an adult.

  • What is the ultimate goal of learning to be vulnerable in relationships?

    -The ultimate goal of learning to be vulnerable in relationships is to achieve a deeper, more honest, and fulfilling connection with one's partner, where both individuals can support and understand each other's emotional needs and experiences.



💔 The Necessity of Vulnerability in Love

This paragraph discusses the critical role of vulnerability in forming deep and meaningful relationships. It emphasizes that being vulnerable involves revealing our weaknesses, fears, and insecurities to our partners, which is essential to show our true selves. The text argues that hiding our vulnerabilities behind a facade of strength and normality can lead to a superficial and unfulfilling relationship. It suggests that true intimacy can only be achieved when both partners are willing to be open about their vulnerabilities and share their innermost feelings and experiences.


😔 Overcoming the Fear of Vulnerability

The second paragraph delves into the reasons why people often resist vulnerability and the psychological impact of doing so. It suggests that the fear of showing weakness stems from past experiences where expressing vulnerability was met with dismissal or ridicule. The text highlights the importance of recognizing that the people who taught us to suppress our vulnerabilities were themselves traumatized and misguided. It concludes by stating that embracing vulnerability in a relationship can lead to healing and a more profound understanding of adulthood, as it allows us to confront and address past wounds with the empathy and understanding that was lacking in our earlier years.




Vulnerability in the context of the video refers to the state of being open and emotionally exposed, especially in intimate relationships. It involves acknowledging and expressing one's weaknesses, fears, and insecurities, which is essential for genuine connection and trust. The video emphasizes that vulnerability is a key aspect of being human and is crucial for authentic love and relationships, as it allows individuals to see each other's true selves beyond the facade of normality and competence.


Psychological pertains to the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in interpersonal relationships. In the video, it is used to describe the mental state of vulnerability, where individuals let their guard down and reveal their innermost thoughts and emotions. This concept is central to the theme of the video, as it explores the importance of psychological vulnerability in forming deep, meaningful connections with others.


Normality refers to the common, standard, or expected state of being. In the video, the 'cloak of normality' symbolizes the societal mask that individuals wear to hide their vulnerabilities and imperfections. By shedding this cloak, individuals can embrace their true selves, including their vulnerabilities, which is a critical step towards authentic relationships and personal growth.


Insecurity is a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety about one's abilities, talents, or worth, often leading to self-doubt. In the context of the video, insecurity is a significant aspect of vulnerability, as it relates to the fear of not meeting the expectations of an ideal adult and the fear of rejection or judgment from others. By acknowledging and sharing these insecurities, individuals can foster a more profound sense of trust and understanding in their relationships.


Intimacy refers to close, personal, and often private interactions or relationships. In the video, intimacy is depicted as the space where vulnerability can flourish, allowing individuals to connect on a deeper level beyond the surface-level interactions of the modern world. True intimacy requires vulnerability, as it involves the sharing of one's innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences.


Child-like refers to qualities or characteristics that are reminiscent of a child, such as innocence, emotional openness, or a lack of self-consciousness. In the video, being child-like is associated with vulnerability, as it involves tapping into the parts of ourselves that are often hidden by the expectations of adulthood. By allowing these child-like aspects to emerge in relationships, individuals can experience a more genuine and restorative form of love.


Deception is the act of misleading or giving a false impression, often with the intent to gain some form of advantage. In the video, deception is portrayed as a barrier to true intimacy and connection. It is used to describe the act of hiding one's vulnerabilities and insecurities to maintain a facade of strength and normality, which ultimately leads to a 'prison of mutual deception' in relationships.


Trauma refers to deeply distressing or disturbing experiences that have lasting emotional and psychological effects. In the context of the video, trauma is linked to the early experiences of rejection, ridicule, or neglect that shape a person's ability to be vulnerable in later life. Overcoming the fear associated with these past traumas is a crucial step towards embracing vulnerability and forming authentic relationships.


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, often by imagining oneself in their situation. In the video, empathy is presented as a vital component of vulnerability and intimate relationships. It is the capacity to recognize and respond to another's vulnerabilities with compassion and understanding, which can lead to healing and growth for both individuals involved.


Restoration refers to the act of returning something to its original state, condition, or position. In the video, restoration is used to describe the process of healing and rebuilding one's sense of self through the experience of vulnerability in a relationship. It suggests that by allowing oneself to be vulnerable and by finding a partner who can provide understanding and support, one can recover from past traumas and develop a more authentic and nuanced understanding of adulthood.


Adulthood is the stage of life when a person is fully grown and legally responsible for their actions. In the video, adulthood is not just a physical or chronological state but also a psychological one, where individuals must reconcile their child-like vulnerabilities with the expectations of being a mature, competent adult. The video challenges the traditional notion of adulthood by suggesting that embracing vulnerability is an essential part of being a fully realized adult.


The core idea that vulnerability is essential for being a good lover and showing one's true self.

Vulnerability involves psychological exposure of our weaknesses, fears, and humanness.

The importance of shedding the cloak of normality and sensibleness to reveal our genuine selves.

Vulnerability allows us to express desires and fears that are often considered childish or irrational.

The societal pressure to hide our vulnerability and maintain a facade of strength and competence.

The detrimental effects of pretending to be strong in intimate relationships, leading to mutual deception.

The belief that others, like ourselves, have their own follies and vulnerabilities, ensuring we're not alone.

Vulnerability as a gateway to connecting with our childhood selves and past traumas.

The paradox where strength and resistance to vulnerability stem from a history of self-punishment and early trauma.

Learning vulnerability entails reevaluating and challenging the incorrect teachings of those who hurt us.

The healing and restorative power of finding a partner with whom we can be vulnerable.

The process of healing old wounds and growing stronger through the expression of weakness.

The redefinition of adulthood through the integration of vulnerability and the acknowledgment of our childlike selves.

The transformative effect of embracing vulnerability on our relationships and understanding of self.

The importance of a supportive and understanding partner in overcoming the fear of vulnerability.

The ultimate goal of achieving an honest and vibrant love through mutual vulnerability.



We can state the matter starkly: we cannot be good lovers if we don’t know how to be




We make ourselves psychologically vulnerable whenever we let a partner know some of the


ways in which we are weak, needy, scared, immature, incompetent or just plain odd - that


is, some of the ways in which we are human.


To be vulnerable is to dare to take off the usual cloak of normality and sensibleness


with which we navigate the world and for once, to show someone who we really are, with all


the fragility and unusualness implied.


We might, as vulnerable people, admit to a desire to be mummied or daddied, to curl into


a ball, to cry over a so-called small thing, to be reassured about an apparently minor


flaw, to call up our lover every ten minutes, to suffer from anxiety or paranoia, to speak


in a regressive voice or to hug a favourite stuffed animal.


It’s a hugely complicated step to confess - in front of someone we fundamentally want


to impress and secure the affection of - that there are basic ways in which we fall short


of what a proper adult is meant to be like.


A certain kind of no-nonsense partner might well tell us sternly to grow up, complain


about us to their friends and make hasty moves to end the relationship.


As a result, we often lie, not for advantage or thievery, but in order to hold on to a


love we desperately depend on.


We pretend to be strong and unafraid.


We put on a show of being someone else.


Such acting works in many contexts.


An uncomplaining, breezy competence and unemotive intelligence can make us an ideal employee,


an admirable committee member and a thoroughly respectable citizen of the modern world.


But in an intimate relationship, this form of caution is fatal.


Our fears and inadequacies don’t vanish because we have hidden them; we don’t get


any less child-like or odd because we have learnt to seem sensible.


We simply end up living with someone who cannot know us - and who, because they are likely


to take their lead from our own reserve, cannot show themselves to us in turn.


We enclose ourselves in a prison of mutual deception.


- The Heroism of Vulnerability


To dare to be vulnerable involves a faith that, whatever we are inwardly most afraid


and ashamed of in our own natures, must have counterparts in other people.


We cannot be alone in our oddities.


The only people we could assume are normal are those we don’t yet know very well.


But once we are past their flawless exteriors, every other person we meet - and especially


the person we are now dating - will have their share of follies: they will suck their thumbs,


be scared of ghosts, have psychological compulsions and worry about the size of their ears or


the state of their friendships.


We are guaranteed not to be alone in our strangeness and neediness.


To be vulnerable is in essence to let a partner catch sight of a side of us that dates back


to childhood: the distant time when we feared mummy would never come back, when we cried


and no one comforted us, when daddy shouted at us and we were frozen with terror, when


a rough friend told us we were a baby for still loving our stuffed elephant, when no


one wanted to play with us in the school yard, when we tried and tried to explain and granny


was still angry.


To be properly, fully, vulnerable is to take the other into the frightened, small places


of our past, and to let them see that we’re still in significant ways the little, distressed


person we once were.


Honest, vibrant love is an encounter between two vulnerable children who otherwise do a


very good job of masquerading as adults.


- Why we flee from our own vulnerability


What makes people reject the offer of vulnerability?


The strength they display is an indicator of how punishing they have had to be towards


their own fragile inner selves; it’s a measure of how fast they had to grow up.


If mummy dismissed their nighttime fears, they will have had to try to tell themselves


- desperately - that mummy was right and that cry-babies really are disgusting.


They perhaps deflected the rough boys’ taunting of Minko (who granny knitted while they were


still in the womb and whose trunk had half disintegrated under the intensity of their


hugs) by throwing the little soft-toy in the bin.


They managed their traumas by siding with those who hurt them.


They focused on keeping their room tidy, passing exams and learning how to do business.


And so they came to fear the very thing that they now most need: an enfolding, restorative


and profoundly understanding tenderness towards their traumatised early selves.


In a grim paradox, to have words of empathy whispered to them lovingly in the dark only


reinforces their deepest fears; their protective shell snaps ever more tightly shut at the


approach of sympathetic love; they respond to their own needs with panic and self-disgust.


- Learning vulnerability


We learn to be vulnerable by understanding that those who conveyed the imperative of


a tougher (non-crying, non-fragile loving) self were profoundly incorrect and in their


way, deeply traumatised themselves.


Mummy was dismissive of our fears not because she was impressively astute in her theories


of human development but because she was struggling with her own history of unattended need; the


anti Minko ‘friend’ wasn’t showing us the real path to being a grown up - they were


inflicting on us some of the unkindness that was in other contexts directed towards them.


We need to go back and convince ourselves - perhaps with a touch of anger - of how misguided


our agents of ‘growing up’ really were.


Finding a partner with whom we can be vulnerable constitutes a supreme act of restoration.


After a lifetime of denial and false strength, we stand to find in another the sympathy that


was sorely needed, but unavailable, to us in the past.


The old wounds can be gently tended; we become stronger by learning to speak the language


of weakness.


By letting our hurt, babyish selves into the relationship, we open the way to a more nuanced,


fruitful, creative and accurate idea of what it really means to be an adult.

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