When we talk about relationships, we think of romance, loyalty, and trust. Rarely does the word ‘courage’ crop up. But love requires courage. Just think about it. It takes courage to ask someone out, tackle difficult problems in a relationship, and even end that relationship if it isn't working. So, from start to finish, courage is an essential part of relationships.
It’s only recently that experts have been examining the role courage plays in relationships. For example, it takes real courage and bravery to leave an abusive partner.
Couples’ experts are now looking at the courage and redefining the term. We once thought that to have courage meant you had no fear, that you were the hero, the knight in shining armor.
But researchers believe there is a different kind of courage; one where you experience the anxiety but move towards it anyway.
“The point is that the courageous person moves ahead despite feeling enormous anxiety not because of its absence.” Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D
So how is courage relevant in a relationship? Having the ability to show your true self, whether to your significant other, or family and friends, takes courage. Why? Because we run the risk of rejection, criticism, and even disapproval.
These risks have consequences of great importance. We risk changing the status quo, or worse, losing our partner. But the thing about courageous types is that they persevere, despite feeling anxious. And this can only lead to a deeper understanding and commitment in the long run.
Here are seven reasons why courage is so important in relationships.
No one likes rejection or feeling vulnerable in a situation. Even just starting a conversation can make us anxious. We fear a negative reaction from the object of our affection.
What if they don’t like us or worse, laugh at our suggestion of a date? Brave people don’t let past experiences put them off. They are aware that not everyone will say yes or like them. What is important is that they have the courage to persevere.
Remember, many relationships have started because one person was brave enough to test the waters.
It takes courage to own up to your mistakes and apologize. Being able to reflect on the situation and respond with heartfelt honesty gives your partner respect in the relationship.
When emotions are high, partners have no idea how you may react, however, brave people will always embrace the truth. They can keep communicating, despite the overwhelming need to quell their anxiety.
Courage is proactive. Courageous people don't experience less anxiety or more fear than the rest of us. They simply tackle that fear head-on.
For example, you might sense that your marriage is in difficulties, but you are worried about bringing up the troubles. You might think that if you discuss potential problems it will lead to a breakup. However, you can relieve tension by hearing your partner out. Giving your partner the silent treatment never works.
Without that initial conversation, you are living in a land of pretense and fabrication. Whilst it might feel easier to dig your head in the sand, having the courage to speak out is healthier in the long term. After all, who wants the anxiety of living a fake life?
Being honest, open, and truthful can leave you brutally vulnerable to criticism, mocking, and even rejection. What if your partner laughs at you or worse, is disgusted by your revelations?
By revealing your deepest dreams and desires you leave yourself emotionally vulnerable. But that is what courage is all about because without fear there can be no courage.
Showing your vulnerability allows a deeper bond to develop between partners. Speaking about potential issues down the line helps solidify relationships. For example, you may wonder if your partner wants to have children later. Can you imagine not having that conversation, only to find out years later, that they have different ideas from you?
A courageous person doesn't shy away from the truth, however difficult it might be to hear. They know that a healthy relationship needs a high level of trust.
And this has a beneficial knock-on effect, not just on your relationship, but also on your self-esteem. Trusting your partner removes the worry, and allows you to grow and flourish.
I cannot tell you how valuable trust is in any relationship. It is incredibly liberating. I have been in a controlling relationship where my partner did not trust me and married a man who trusts me completely. The difference is like night and day. Never underestimate the importance of trust.
Sometimes love requires courage. For example, a same-sex relationship or couples with a big age difference can often face conflict or experience shame from the public.
Having a courageous partner makes all the difference. In the key moments of make or break in a relationship, you want someone that is not afraid to be committed to you. You need someone willing to fight for your right to happiness.
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No relationship is perfect, or can it ever be? The key to a healthy relationship is how couples handle testing times. When we fear losing someone or discovering something upsetting about someone, it is during these moments that courage has great importance.
It is easy to shy away from testing times because by confronting them we are risking everything. However, you have to be honest with yourself. Perhaps the relationship is nearing its end? Maybe you don’t feel the same way about the relationship anymore?
It takes courage to admit that things are failing and to speak about your emotions in an honest and nonjudgmental way.
Brave people don’t let setbacks discourage them from pursuing their goals. They are confident in their self-image and do not need validation from others. They treat people as they wish to be treated. They take the blame when things go wrong and understand that sometimes, life is not fair. Building courage takes practice, but once you have it, it’s extremely satisfying.
It absolutely takes courage to end a relationship. Many people stay in unhappy relationships for fear of being single. Others stay out of habit because facing an uncertain future can be more frightening than knowing what to expect. And some are so worn down by abuse that their self-esteem is at an all-time low. Get support from friends and family.
Walking away from someone you have been intimate with for months or years is difficult. You are facing the unknown with no support. It is difficult to end a partnership, but once you made the decision to go it gets easier. The hard part is coming to that conclusion. Perhaps you feel like a failure, or shame that the marriage has gone wrong. Be honest with yourself and realize you deserve better.
If you are courageous, you don’t give up easily. You persevere, despite feeling scared, alone, or without support. You express yourself freely because you are not frightened to speak out and show how you are feeling. By showing vulnerability in times of anxiety, people see your true self. Not a fake version on social media, but the real you. It takes someone with the courage to admit they are not perfect in real life.
Knowing that the only thing in life you can control is how you act. Bad things will happen, and you will experience setbacks. However, continuing on and moving forward gives you courage. No one is born courageous; it takes time and practice to go deeper into your own self. To see the flaws and your strengths takes courage.
Who would have imagined that courage plays such an important role in relationships? Not only does it take courage to start a relationship, but it also takes courage to maintain and even end one.
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