KehishaJohnson, Staff Reporter
I recently conducted an experiment in which I studied the effects of human interaction with Chattahoochee students. I predicted that if vulnerability is exposed, a relationship between two people can become even stronger than it initially was. This social experiment is called “breaking the walls” because I wanted to study the effects of candidness in human relationships. Although honesty is a prevalent quality in many relationships, candidness is not. Candidness is a person’s willingness to be sincere and forthright, thus resulting in exposure that is often unwanted and avoided. This reluctance symbolizes a guard, or in this case, a wall that many have been using to shield their emotions for long periods of time. In this experiment, students made an attempt to break this wall, and take a chance at being vulnerable for the first time.
I strategically chose people who had strong relationships with their partners. In this case, I interviewed two brothers, two different pairs of sisters, and two couples. Each pair played what I called a “card interview game,” where each partner would take turns pulling a card, and asking the question that was on their card. The questions on each card ranged from less personal to more personal. For example, one card from the stack asked “If I was an animal, which animal would I be, and why?” The last four cards were the most personal and exposed vulnerability. For example, the last question asked “If I were to die tomorrow, what is one thing you would want me to know today?” Hearing the responses from the pairs I interviewed were different for every relationship. However, one thing that remained the same, was that their vulnerability and candidness with each other strengthened their connection.
“What is one thing you like about me, that I don’t like about myself?”
This question was given to all couples, and conjured different responses and reactions. Jackie (FR) and Jonah (FR) have been dating for eight months. Many of the questions they asked each other often resulted in laughter, and snickers, as they recalled memories from the beginning of their relationship. It wasn’t until Jackie asked her boyfriend, Jonah the question above, that her vulnerability began to show. Jonah responded with “Your ears. I know you hate them, but I love your ears.” Jackie quickly covered them with her hair and said “No, they’re so big!” They both laughed, but Jackie began to see how her partner admired the qualities that she was insecure about, and gradually became more comfortable during the card game. Cam (JR) and Ireland (JR) have been dating for ten months. When Ireland asked Cam the same question, he responded with “your looks. I know you don’t believe me when I say that but I think you’re really, really pretty.” What was interesting, was that not only did Ireland respond by blushing, but Cam’s candidness caused his face to turn bright red. By observing Ireland’s body language, Cam responded with slight embarrassment.
“What is one thing about me that you would never want me to change?”
Brothers, Adrian (SR) and Gabi (SO) surprised me with several of their responses, especially to this question. Whereas Adrian seemed to be more outgoing and extroverted, Gabi was definitely more reserved during the interview. However, when Adrian asked his brother this question, Gabi responded, “your enthusiasm. You definitely make everybody’s day a little bit brighter.” By Gabi acknowledging and appreciating his brother’s differences, Adrian was more responsive during the interview. Sisters Jackie (FR) and Jennifer (SR) also revealed true signs of vulnerability when this question was asked. When Jennifer asked her younger sister this question, a tear fell from Jackie’s eyes. “How independent you are,” she responded. Not many words were exchanged, but both Jackie and Jennifer knew their few words were valuable and honest. This was a special moment that was shared between them, because they realized how deep their connection really was.
“I learned more about you than I ever had,” Cam told his girlfriend, Ireland. “I used to have this mask where I hid my confidence, but when I am with you I feel like I don’t have to hide.” As Jennifer wiped the tears away from Jackie’s eyes she said “I enjoy your company. That’s why I always want you home.” From laughter, to sorrow, to happy tears, the pairs of different relationships revealed that vulnerability did not have to be hidden. In fact, telling their partner how they really felt made them realize how valuable they were in their eyes. The message I wanted to convey during my social experiment was that truth and candidness deepens relationships over time. By letting your partner know how you feel, the other person gains a better appreciation for why you feel this way, and how much they mean to you. It starts by breaking down the wall, and revealing what’s really behind it — you, and nothing else.