You’ve heard the word before, and depending on where and in what context you might have heard it, you might have made up some opinions about what it is, and what it isn’t. We’re talking, of course, about vulnerability. Especially for men, vulnerability is incredibly beneficial and at the same time, incredibly misunderstood. Due to broscience and mistaken definitions of manliness, a lot of men stop themselves from inculcating vulnerability in their day-to-day lives, and their relationships and friendships suffer as a result.
So, what is vulnerability? To put it simply, vulnerability means wearing your opinions on your sleeve. This doesn’t have to mean walking around like a nervous wreck all the time. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. It could be something as simple as telling one of your friends that she looks beautiful, or disagreeing clearly with an opinion that your peer group might have even if it isn’t a popular one. It could mean setting strong boundaries about the kind of behaviour and people you do or do not accept in your life, or even telling someone special that you really love them.
Yes, as you might have guessed, this isn’t the easiest thing to do. Being vulnerable means putting yourself out there in uncomfortable situations often. But the fact that you choose to do it means that the relationships and interactions you do create will be longer-lasting and more deeply fulfilling to you. It sidesteps all of the games when it comes to romantic relationships, builds trust and intimacy much quicker and allows you to get sexual with other people faster.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be a tortured artist, a rock star, or even be rich and famous to be vulnerable. Each and every one of us can implement this in our lives. Just stating your opinions and desires clearly demonstrates confidence, and that is a desirable trait to have, even if you open yourself up to rejection occasionally. If you’re completely comfortable with your weaknesses, nothing external can hurt you. If you’re still skeptical, the next time you are with a cute girl and are wondering what you should say to her, try saying “I can’t really think of anything to say because I’m a little nervous around you”. Say it with a wink and a smile, and watch her face light up.
When you come from a place of authenticity, you can get away with doing things that would otherwise be perceived as unattractive or weak. When the other person understands that you are completely comfortable in your own skin, even if that means accepting your flaws, they immediately feel better around you. Dating becomes much, much easier if you go into it with this frame of mind.
Let’s take a look at the flip-side though. Some of you might read all this talk about vulnerability and think it is just another technique. You might think “Oh, this is a series of behaviours that I can exhibit to get people to like me.” This is a completely wrong way of looking at it. In fact, being vulnerable means the exact opposite – surrendering yourself to the situation without relying on tools and tips for support. It means accepting the loss of control, not another technique to add in your arsenal so you can have more control over the situation. Learn to just be with another person and talk to them without having an agenda, and letting the dynamic flow wherever it naturally goes to.
When you talk about things, you must keep this in mind. If you want to talk about the great trip you had last month, do it because you are genuinely excited about sharing it with the other person. If you are talking about your trip because you want to impress them, you are doing it wrong. Why would you talk about the high points of your life to a complete stranger just because you wanted to have a chance to have sex with them? Think about it.
Some people take this concept to the other extreme and treat every conversation as they would an appearance on Oprah. Listen, if you are exchanging pleasantries, no one wants to hear about the traumatic heartbreak you had and how it ruined your life. If there is no context established for sharing emotional and tragic stories, forcibly trying to interject them into the conversation is desperate and quite frankly, extremely creepy. If you’re suffering from something that has traumatised you and you want to talk about it, let the people you are with know. Your friends and family will come to your help, but only if you tell them what it is they’re getting into. Eventually, you are going to have to come to a resolution yourself by working out the emotional turmoil inside you. Stop trying to use your breakup as an excuse to paint all women as villains and sabotage healthy relationships.
Most often, people confuse neediness and being extremely emotional with being vulnerable. You might’ve seen cases where people confess their undying and unconditional love to someone after a couple of dates. There are also people who keep calling women who’ve given them their number 27 times daily and refuse to stop texting them. This isn’t vulnerability, it is psychotic behaviour. Whatever fantasies about love at first sight you might have built up in your head over years of watching movies, you need to stop imposing them on other people. Women realise when you’re just playing out a narrative instead of genuinely connecting with them on a deep and intimate level.
So, take responsibility. Be mindful of your emotions, and don’t hesitate to speak clearly if something bothers you. Accept yourself as a person with flaws and weaknesses like everyone else, and take this knowledge into your interactions with people. If you like someone, don’t be afraid to say it. Yes, you might get the odd cold shoulder, but it’s well worth the reward of having a group of wonderful people around you.