Hey there, this is Clay Andrews with Modern Love Life. We help you get a great relationship without having to play mind games, without having to play hard to get, without having to pretend to be someone or something that you aren’t.
Today, we’re going to talk about being vulnerable in a relationship without being needy.
We’ll be talking about the two different types of vulnerability.
One of them is going to come across as needy, the other one is going to come across as transparent, as brave, as courageous, as something that is really going to help to inspire connection, inspire a great relationship, and inspire a lot of good things moving forward.
There are two types of vulnerability in a relationship. There is negative vulnerability and positive vulnerability. Let’s just go with those terms for lack of a better phrase for the time being.
There is obviously a big benefit to being vulnerable in a relationship.
I know that sometimes it may not seem that way. It can seem scary to be vulnerable.
We live in a world where we try to put out the best facade we possibly can around what we think we need to be, look like and how we need to come across in order to have a great dating or relationship experience.
I think it’s very fairly obvious to most people that vulnerability in a relationship and transparency is a very positive thing because it lets the other person know who you are.
If the other person knows who you are and they still like you, then you know they like you for who you are, right?
They’re not liking you because you put on a fake act or you’re pretending to be someone that you’re not, which— in the long run— will make the relationship a whole lot easier because you can relax and be yourself.
You don’t always have to be super anxious and uptight and always watching what you say and what you do and make sure that you are constantly putting on this hard to get act, this, “Hey, I’m a badass” act or whatever it might be, right?
Being vulnerable in a relationship is really important.
…But… there is a fine line between vulnerability and being needy.
So where is that line?
In order to understand the difference between emotional vulnerability and neediness, I need to add a little bit of a foundation for you that’s going to help make this a lot clearer.
A lot of what we’re going to be talking about here is based on the foundation of actually being able to calibrate to where the other person is at emotionally.
For example, this means you need to be present to what the other person’s emotional state is.
You need to be able to feel into the moment and think, “hey, are they having a bad day today?”
If so, you think to yourself, “maybe I need to adjust what I’m going to say to so it’s going to be received in a much better way.”
This requires empathy.
You have to be able to see things from their point of view and perspective. This will allow you to be able to guess at how what you’re going to say is going to land with them.
Oftentimes— from working with a lot of people— people generally want to express how they feel and they think that that’s going to somehow magically going to make a lot of things better.
And… sure, it absolutely can help to share your feelings but you also want to think about how it’s going to be received by the person on the other end.
With that being said, let’s talk about the two types of vulnerability.
1. Negative vulnerability.
The negative type of vulnerability which is going to come across as needy, desperate, and as a lot of things that you probably do not want being associated with you.
For example, telling somebody:
“I can’t live without you.”
“I can’t live without being in a relationship with you.”
Obviously, under certain contexts, maybe that would be something that would create a great emotional connection, maybe if you’re saying it as part of your wedding vows.
But under most circumstances, saying to somebody:
“I can’t live without being in a relationship with you,”
“I can’t be happy without being with you,”
Is going to come across as needy. Now, why is that?
It’s because you are essentially using them as a means to an end to get something that you want.
So you want to be happy, right?
I think we all want to be happy.
You’re saying, “I need to be in a relationship with you,” in order for me to be happy, so you’re using “being in a relationship” with them as a means to an end for you to be happy.
Now, that’s all fine and good when you’re talking about objects and things like that.
I need to eat lunch so that I can feel good and focus on what I have to do this afternoon.
But when you’re talking about people, you have to be able to understand how it’s going to be perceived by the other person.
When you say something like that without much consideration for where the other person is at, it can often come across as:
“I don’t care how you feel.”
“I don’t care where you’re at emotionally.”
“I don’t care what you’re going through.”
“I don’t care what kind of day you’ve had.”
“I don’t care what you think about this idea. I need to be in a relationship with you so that I can be happy.”
That is really kind of the crux of this neediness. It neglects the other person’s emotional state and where the other person is at.
It’s not really meeting them where they’re at.
You’re essentially making the other person responsible for your emotional well-being.
When I say, “I need you to be happy.”
Suddenly, you KNOW you are now the decider of my happiness.
You control whether you say, “Yes. Let’s be in a relationship” or “No. I don’t think I want to be in a relationship.”
That is going to create a lot of neediness and clinginess because you’re not owning your own emotional experience. That’s negative vulnerability.
2. Positive Vulnerability.
Positive vulnerability on the other side of that is where you’re not using somebody as a means to an end to get your emotional needs met.
You are simply owning your emotional experience, your feelings and your desires.
Here’s an example of positive vulnerability. Say you want an exclusive relationship. Instead of saying to someone:
“I need you in order to be happy. I need to be in a relationship with you in order to be happy”
In the right context because you are being present with the other person, calibrating where they’re at on an emotional level and considering how they might receive things, you might say something like:
“I really love connecting with you like this. Would you like to be in a relationship?”
That can be really vulnerable. You can be really putting yourself out there, but it’s not needy or desperate because you are owning your own experience. You are owning your own desires. You are owning what you want without offloading it onto them.
Now, sure, you can still ask a question like,
“Would you like to be in a relationship?”
And that’s not going to come across as needy even though you’re directly asking for something from somebody because you’re owning your own experience.
You’re not making it about them and acting like they are in control of your emotional world.
Of course, if you ask somebody to be in a relationship with you and they say no, even if you’re owning your own experience, you’re probably going to be less than excited if they say no.
But if you say something like, “Hey, I really like you. Would you like to be in a relationship?”
You’re not adding all of that extra burden of making them responsible for how you feel.
That’s the main difference between positive and negative vulnerability.
In negative vulnerability, you’re using somebody as a means to an end to get your emotional needs met.
With positive vulnerability, you’re simply sharing what you want, what you feel and what your experience is without making someone or something responsible for that.
That’s how you can be vulnerable without being needy.
Anyway, with that being said, let’s see if we’ve got any questions in the comments section.
OK, Lance says, “Hello.”
Hello there, Lance! Good to see you again.
Rachel says, “Why are you talking about this when we already learned these things?”
Well, if you’ve learned that, that’s excellent. I’m really glad that you have learned about how to be vulnerable without being needy.
Unfortunately, in my experience, this is not common sense to a lot of people.
If this is common sense to you, then great! You’re probably in a very small minority of people that actually understand the difference between positive and negative vulnerability.
But this is probably something that a lot of people could really benefit from learning more about.
To learn more about this deeper emotional and mental work when it comes to relationships, take my free quiz here.