Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is vulnerability strength or foolishness?

Asked by wundayatta (58604points) February 26th, 2010

Or both? If both, in what balance?

To allow yourself to show your vulnerabilities to others could be considered strength. Only if you are very secure about who you are can you open yourself up for judgment.

It could also be the height of foolishness. When you show your true colors, people can rip you to shreds. It’s a big gamble to show your vulnerability, because it might go either way—people appreciating the strength, or appreciating the opportunity to eviscerate you.

Of course, it could be some of each, too. Does it take strength to be vulnerable or just a lack of boundaries or a lot of foolishness? How vulnerable do you allow yourself to be in public situations? Can you give an example?

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29 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Emotional vulnerability is a sine qua non of a mature, loving relationship, and it is very rewarding, as well.

Bronny's avatar

I’m not sure how I feel about this, but looking forward to others feedback.

evandad's avatar

It’s many things, including those two.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Knowing when to be vulnerable, and with whom, is one of the hardest lessons in life.

Bronny's avatar

I don’t think you can choose vulnerability…isn’t the point that you are slightly naive and therefore vulnerable?

CMaz's avatar

It is neither. It’s in a category all by itself.

escapedone7's avatar

Depends upon context. In a romance, being more open with each other deepens the bond and understanding. In therapy, it is almost necessary to open up to heal the wounds inside.

However, the general public or even casual friends don’t deserve such emotional exhibitionism. Furthermore, some people, even relatives and friends, are extremely manipulative and when things turn sour use “what hurts the most” against you.

I think it should be treated like nudity. Appropriate in certain intimate situations, not others.

stump's avatar

The ability to allow yourself to be vulnerable is the strength. We all need our defenses from time to time. But the people that lose the ability to drop their defenses miss opportunities for intimacy and connection that you can only have when you are vulnerable.

Vunessuh's avatar

Vulnerability means you’re exposed which can be a good or a bad thing.
It also means having your guard down and being open to ridicule, criticism, censure and love, all of which you can allow to affect yourself positively. I guess it depends on you.
But sometimes vulnerability is out of your control. I agree with @Bronny that being naive usually means you’re automatically vulnerable.
The only way it can be foolish or a strength is how you react to it.
Vulnerability itself is neither foolish nor a strength, but a word used to describe moments that every human goes through.

marinelife's avatar

I spent a lot of time being closed off to new people and new things. It was because I was afraid to allow myself to be vulnerable.

Now, I am more open to all people. There is risk associated with it, but I consider it a triumph to be able to held myself open and vulnerable to hurt.

Of course, I close myself off to hurt if there is any sign the person is going to be hurtful.

faye's avatar

@marinelife I find I can’t close until I am hurt and then the disappointment compounds it exponentially. So at present I’m sealed right up as far as romance would go. I have a few good friends I’m pretty open to. In a nursing situation on the palliative unit I worked on, by showing vulnerability to co-staff, we built up strong support for each other so it became strenthening.

Zaxwar91's avatar

Usually showing your vulberability starts out at a very young age, usually 3 to 5 years old. These first few vyears are crucial in the fact that they can either lead to the strength or the fooleshness. But after the years start passing most people begin to know when its ok to let their vulnerabilities show and when we should keep them to themselves. Its like a mental vault. We know when we should allow people to know who we really are and when we shouldnt. SOmetimes we know when were doing it and other times its unconsciencely.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Vulnerability is bravery to me.that reminds me..I need to pick up my kevlar chicken-suit from the cleaners :)

max53's avatar

Choosing to be emotionally vulnerable is a strength. It requires courage and it allows you the freedom to be authentically yourself in your relationships with others. The more you are authentically yourself, the more you can genuinely connect with others.

There are times when strategically it is more beneficial not to open yourself up and be vulnerable, but I think those situations occur more in a professional environment than a personal one. But even in professional relationships, a person is more satisfied, happy and at ease when they are their authentic self.

I’ll give you an example. A close friend and coworker of mine is a lesbian. She only recently let her sexual orientation be known to the rest of our coworkers. She told me that it felt wonderful to actually be able to talk to the people she sees every day about what she and her girlfriend did over the weekend instead of simply being quiet or vague. This choice to be open about herself made her more vulnerable and required courage and she has said that it has made her feel more relaxed and connected to the rest of our coworkers.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Neither and both.
It is a strength to be able to admit a weakness and then proceed to work on it.
It is foolish to admit your vulnerabilities to people who will use that knowledge to take advantage of you.
And who knows which is which?
And who is who?

OneMoreMinute's avatar

I see strength in vulnerability.

Cruiser's avatar

Vulnerability is only foolish when it is ignored or denied. Vulnerability is one of the greatest emotional virtues one has and is both a great strength and a great potential weakness if taken advantage of.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@Cruiser nicely put! that’s exactly what I mean! lurves!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I am unafraid of being torn apart when expressing sensitivity and genuine tender feelings.
I value such feelings in myself. It is a big part of my abililty to richly experience the human condition.

I pity people who see such genuine behaviour as an opportunity to crush another person.

Anyone I observe attempting to capitalize on another person’s willingness to expose such vulnerability had better hope someone other than me is nearby when life deal them a painful blow that exposes their own vulnerability, because my compassion will just happen to be directed elsewhere helping someone more deserving at that very moment!

Just_Justine's avatar

I think it is a strength. Probably because I am not brave enough to show it often. Like @lucillelucillelucille said. However it needs to be context appropriate. Plus in a safe environment. I think people are more loved and admired when they show they are vulnerable. In small doses of course.

aprilsimnel's avatar

You know, if you are vulnerable, and someone else uses it for their own ends or as a way to mistreat you, then who’s the real fool? Whos’ the true weak one? You, for being open, or the user for being too ignorant and/or for having such bad faith to understand and pervert the great gift s/he’s been given?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think that, like any other emotion/feeling/experience, vulnerability shouldn’t rule your life and it shouldn’t be valued either (just for what it is) – one should be vulnerable when they truly feel the need to be and to learn from whatever comes of it but one’s vulnerability shouldn’t be a point of weakness.

MrsDufresne's avatar

If you are sharing it with someone who will cherish it, then it strengthens the relationship. If you’re vulnerable with someone that will use it against you, then, it can also strengthen you with the knowledge as to be more careful the next time who you share it with.

So, in a nutshell, it is strength.

ChaosCross's avatar

At the beginning to you it looks like weakness.
After that it looks like foolishness.
When you are old and about to die, you realize the reality that the strongest people are the ones who let themselves be hurt.

partyparty's avatar

You have to have a strength of character to allow yourself to be vulerable.

BoBo1946's avatar

Vulnerability (definition) is the susceptibility to physical or emotional injury or attack. It also means to have one’s guard down, open to censure or criticism. Vulnerability refers to a person’s state of being liable to succumb, as to manipulation, persuasion or temptation.

Don’t want this…don’t want some lady trying to pull my pants down!

thriftymaid's avatar

Neither; it’s a state in which one may find themselves for many different reasons.

shalom's avatar

We see the world not as it is, but as we are. If people rip you up, it’s a reflection of who they are and not who you are.

It takes a lack of boundaries to be vulnerable. We erect boundaries to protect our Ego from pain. But Pain can only exist when contrasted against our natural state of Ease, Joy, Happiness, Wellness, Flow. To prevent ourselves from Pain is to also prevent ourselves to experience our natural state. That’s how people end up feeling bitter, lonely, bored, down, depressed, insecure, afraid.

If people hurt us understand it’s a reflection of their state of mind but it requires our permission to feel angry, hurt, vengeful, etc. But it’s good that we can feel, that we are sensitive. Instead of barricading ourselves up, we can choose to forgive ourselves for feeling angry, etc and just sympathize with those having a bad day/ week/ life / existence.

The question on how vulnerable I allow myself to be in public is difficult to answer without some context.

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