SHOULD YOU BE VULNERABLE?
One word has become practically dogma in relationship advice today:
And I get why.
Up until recent decades, men were absolutely incompetent when it came to communicating their feelings. They were trained to keep quiet – that sharing was weakness. If they were hurting, they either lashed out or shut down emotionally. Men and women living in relationships that were devoid of depth and connection.
So people began to ask:
“Should you be vulnerable?”
Should you share your issues, reveal your demons, and allow yourself to be out in the open and rejected?
It was a tantalizing, if scary prospect.
Be yourself – share the “real you” fully and completely, warts and all – and receive freedom… and maybe unconditional acceptance too.
This idea, beginning in the 60s, has finally taken mainstream dating advice by the storm.
Today, whole communities currently exist to serve this concept of vulnerability. I know the people in them well. Indeed, I heavily immersed myself in them the first half of 2015, after two years of exploring the concept online. I even attended a summit in the desert dedicated to raw, unadulterated vulnerability and got a coach, who helped me not only to be vulnerable with others but with myself.
And I cannot lie. Vulnerability changed my life.
Vulnerability provided a powerful vehicle for communication and connection. It helped me to release fear. It nurtured intimacy in my marriage and helped my wife and I through speed bumps. Vulnerability was even a dangerous tool in my kit of seduction when I was a serial dater. It softened out what many girls described as my mysterious, dominant edge, and made them think they were getting to know me.. which only made them want more.
So “should you be vulnerable” is a great question. And because it is so powerful, the answer is often yes.
But it isn’t always.
Indeed, many coaches have taken vulnerability to such an extreme that I’ve watched it – sadly – do tremendous damage to relationships, and wreck people’s lives.
The Answer To “Should You Be Vulnerable” – Like All Questions – Is Dependent On Context.
Do you want to know the most painful, foolhardy thing I’ve seen men do?
Their relationship is on the rocks. They are failing to live up to their role as a man. Their woman is treating them poorly. Both partners are frustrated, sex is infrequent, and arguments are a daily occurrence. The whole romantic dynamic is crumbling fast.
Yet rather than act strong and resolute, confident in the relationship and making things right – their response is to be vulnerable about how the situation is making them feel.
I’m sure some of you are outraged at my insinuation. What on earth is wrong with being vulnerable about how bad things are? Isn’t that going to make her feel more invested, and show her you care?
Actually no. It won’t.
It is going to half of those things.
Yes, it will show her you care – and in the short-term, may even bring you two closer together.
But in the long-term? It will only cause her investment and attraction towards you to plummet.
A girl who is disappointed with the relationship is usually disappointed with how you are showing up as a man. She is looking at you to take action and improve things. Whether that is your material situation or romantic dynamic – she wants you to take the lead to fix it.
Does showing off your feelings, asking her to act differently, being vulnerable about your struggles change any of that?
No, it doesn’t.
Indeed, it communicates the opposite: you are not only feeling weak and incapable of handling the situation, you are asking her to fix it (as well as your emotions).
This is a major turn-off.
It confirms her instincts (largely operating subconsciously) that you cannot “take care of things” – and though it may make her sympathize and connect to you emotionally in the short-term, it will not make her attracted to you.
It will infantilize and desexualize you instead.
And that, my friends, makes her only one step away from leaving you.
No Woman Wants To Date A Man She Has To Take Care Of Emotionally. If Anything, That’s Your Job For Her.
In general, women are more emotional than men. This is a fact.
Women want their man to be able to handle those emotions.
Yet women are also not fair. Although they may want to know your own emotions, they do not want to handle them – regardless of what they might tell you otherwise.
Yes, women want to “get” their man on a deep level. Some might say that is their deepest desire, romantically.
But being responsible for those emotions is a different thing entirely.
This is why the frame and dynamic of the relationship is so important when you consider “should you be vulnerable.”
Vulnerability expressed after you’ve been working hard, doing right by her, and cultivating a loving relationship is powerful and bonding. But vulnerability expressed in a weak, anxious frame, only succeeds in putting emotional weight on her and lowering yourself in her eyes.
It is devastating for attraction and the relationship’s long-term prospects.
Understand the context. A woman unsure about her feelings for you or your future together does not want to play the role of your mother. Indeed – callous as it may sound, and though she probably will not admit this – she does not care about your problems so long as hers exist.
This is because a woman’s hindbrain cares first and foremost about your status and your ability to provide security.
(Note: This does not make women bad people. It makes them women. They cannot control this. Men have their own “unfair,” biological impulses too.)
And vulnerability when you are in a position of weakness is a status-killer.
You must avoid it at all costs if her respect for you is on the line.
This is why context, when asking “should you be vulnerable,” is everything.
Vulnerability Is A Powerful Tool If You Have Set The Right Frame. Otherwise, Do This Instead.
If your relationship is on the rocks because you are failing in your role as a man, then the answer to the question “should you be vulnerable” is an easy no.
There is only one way to solve your problem.
Confidence and action.
If things aren’t going well, if she isn’t treating you well – lay down the law. Stand up for yourself.
But moreover, work on yourself.
If the relationship isn’t going well, ask yourself why? Is it a compatibility issue, or is it something worse – are you just screwing up?
If your attractiveness as a male is declining relative to her, you’ve got to get your house in order. Maybe you need to get in shape, maybe you need a more masculine attitude, or maybe you need to do a better job keeping her comfortable. But whatever it is, you need to do it – not talk about how hard it is. Being vulnerable and complaining will only push her away.
You need to project an air of confidence and certainty, and you need to show improvement. Then and only then can you be vulnerable. Indeed, at that point she will genuinely appreciate it.
Will this be easy?
In the short-term, generally not.
But in the long-term it – not vulnerability – will fix everything.
Try it out and let me know.
PS Are you having trouble in your relationship? Consider talking to me. The question of “should you be vulnerable” is case-specific, and usually layered with numerous other relationship problems. I can help navigate you them and guide you towards what you need to do… so you can have the relationship you deserve.