Love 'Em & Leave 'Em

The Raw and The Real: Vulnerability vs. Weakness

Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em:
TGG’s Valentine Special

Inspiration for today’s relationship topic of discussion is brought to you by Nigerian-born, New York-based alternative R&B artist Toulouse’s “Reach Out.” Written, performed and produced entirely by Toulouse, “Reach Out” is a desperate call for the raw and the real that comes with relationships.

“‘Reach Out’ is about inhabiting the sacrificial and most humbling role of loving a prodigal and dysfunctional person unconditionally. It takes more courage to love an imperfect being than to hate an imperfect being.”

– Toulouse for Complex

The concept of emotional vulnerability is much more appealing than its practice to some, myself included. The hesitation of being forthright with your innermost thoughts and feelings with another person stems from a fear of rejection– that what we feel or think is wrong or will be ill-received. This fear of rejection may be derived from past experiences and their perceived outcomes. If you focus on the root of the mental blockage in this case, you might see how unfair that is to not only you, but to your respective partner. It’s important not to punish those who are willing to receive all of you for the actions and transgressions of other people.
One of the many ways self-sabotage manifests in relationships is by clinging to the notion that emotional vulnerability equates to weakness. This notion is fueled by ego. There’s nothing weak about unadulterated authenticity– it takes strength and fortitude to trust another person with your most personal business. By giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, you allow both parties the freedom and security to be 100% authentic in the relationship.

Be afraid and do it anyway.

On the other side of laying it all to bare is the willingness to receive and process another’s innerworkings with humility and compassion. This is where choice comes in again. By practicing empathy with the people we love, we plant seeds of trust and mutual protection within our relationships. Establishing a safe space with whom you desire this level of intimacy can open doors to deeper understanding of the relationship and each individual involved.
Receiving information and acting on information are two very different things. Sometimes, people just want to feel heard, no action required. Use emotional intelligence as a guide to understand the best way to receive your partner’s vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to ask them how you can show up for them or how they would prefer this information to be received: “Do you want a solution or do you want comfort right now?” Actively remember that there is no wrong answer to this question. Try not to allow your ego to cloud your ability to receive delicate information.

With all that being said, not every person in your life deserves unadulterated authenticity; be selective and use your best judgment to discern who in your life is worthy of receiving those parts of you. Try not to waste your energy on being heard by the wrong people.