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Vulnerability: one of life’s most radical opportunities for immense failure or intense joy.

Relationships allow us a choice: to enter in with all that we are, or to cautiously hold ourselves at bay. Subconsciously, or maybe consciously, we evaluate others. Are they safe? Available? Worthwhile? Will they listen? Care? Notice? And then, when they have passed this initial evaluation, we reveal more of who we really are. What we are risking is vulnerability, giving someone the opportunity to see us for who we are right now, just as we are, without make-up and Photoshop and Spanx … metaphorically speaking, of course.

To know someone is to take all of them in, the good, the bad, and the ugly – the everything. To know their idiosyncrasies and be familiar with the sweet little things making them unique, and okay, let’s be honest, the not-so-sweet things too. We are complex human beings and when someone really gets us, like in that raw, guts out kinda way, something clicks into place, and we are at peace. To be known – understood, seen in our truest form and valued, almost awed. This is life as it was meant to be had. This is intimacy. This is communion. What a precious thing it is.

How do we do this whole knowing and being known thing, you ask? Risk. When we are willing to go first, we set a precedent of depth and truth, it allows others the freedom and confidence to let their guard down as well. We risk. We risk rejection, making things uncomfortable, we risk insecurity and feeling foolish, we risk our cleverly crafted cover-ups telling the world “we are just fine.” You know what? I want to risk it all. I would trade all those potential pitfalls for the shiny little space of true friendship.

Part of sharing ourselves is knowing ourselves and being comfortable in our own skin. Being okay with others seeing us, because we are okay seeing us. When you are confident, or at least self-accepting, it translates as being grounded and secure to others, and this sets people at ease. Hence wanting to open up to you as well. And ta-da! The relationship circle.

So let’s not be afraid to fly our freak flags, people! Let’s put ourselves out there. Let’s seek depth and truth and fullness. Let’s know each other and allow ourselves to be known. It will be so worth it.

Elyse is a Marriage and Family Therapist who lives in Dana Point with her husband and two little boys, Isaac (2) and Judah (1). She is also the Coordinator for Capo Beach MOPS. You can read more from her at

What makes you feel safe enough to be vulnerable in friendships?