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Love Is Scary, but That’s What Makes It Great

Opening yourself requires vulnerability, which is where deep connection happens.

Key points

  • An intimate relationship is scary because partners put themselves into each others’ hands, physically and emotionally.
  • If someone has been burned, they will understandably be hesitant to be vulnerable again.
  • Deep connection depends on both vulnerability and trust.

Passion is exciting, but frightening, because love requires vulnerability. Partners literally put themselves into each other’s hands and trust they will be handled with care. Having intimate conversations, sharing secrets, and being in close proximity are all exciting and risky. Opening up to another person leaves you exposed.

Source: Pexels

One client of mine wrestled with this. “I came here to school to get away from a really unhealthy relationship,” she said. “I needed time to clear my head and heal, but now I have a problem.” I asked her what it was. “I have met a really wonderful guy who is interested in me. He is kind, funny, gentle, and well-grounded in his goals. He comes from a great family and isn’t putting any pressure on me when I asked for time to think.”

So, what’s the problem?

She was afraid of being hurt again, which was understandable. However, she also had found something wonderful and didn’t want to pass it by.

Being vulnerable leads to connection

Joseph Campbell said, "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” My client didn’t want to barge into this cave just because she was fleeing a storm, but she knew that a leap of faith can move things forward. She was brave and transparent with her new beau, even though it was hard to tell him her fears. “What if he thinks I’m an idiot,” she wondered, “because I stayed with my last boyfriend for so long? What if he leaves?” As she honestly revealed her feelings and uncertainties, she was reassured by her new friend’s reaction. She was vulnerable as she moved forward, but she ended up with the treasure.

When a relationship is safe, it is the most exciting

As relationships mature and become safer, the risks go down. People become more secure with each other, which frees them up to experience more fun and passion. Sue Johnson uses the analogy of a zip line. People attach themselves to a high rope and race down at insane speeds, screaming with delight. However, if the zip line became unstable or started to break, the screaming would take on a very different tone. It is only because of the secure connection that the rider can let go and enjoy the thrill. In a relationship, you trust the other to not let go, and this is what makes it exhilarating.


Sue Johnson. TEDx Ottowa. The New Frontier of Sex & Intimacy

Adapted from Love Me True: Overcoming the Surprising Ways We Deceive in Relationships. Cedar Fort.