The Oxford Dictionary defines vulnerability as “The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” Indeed, “vulnerability” sounds very scary. Layer on top, societal pressures on men to be seen as stoic, infallible, seemingly invincible, a pillar of strength—particularly in front of women—and it becomes clear why the idea of being vulnerable causes an allergic reaction in many men.
But it’s this aversion to vulnerability—well practiced since phrases such as “boys don’t cry” are stamped into young males on the school playground—that creates an emotional disconnect between these men and others around them and is the very thing that stands between them and the most basic of human needs: connection.
It’s no surprise that as I recount my most challenging life details to workshop attendees that they inevitably gasp in incredulity when I tell them that I share these same details on every single first date within the first hour: details of self-hate. Attempted suicide. Deception. My past acts of infidelity. Manipulation of women. Unemployment. Financial difficulties… What could possibly lead me to disclose and admit to such horrible things within minutes of meeting them—AND ON FIRST DATES??
After all, we’re constantly told about the importance of first impressions… to never talk of cheating, of exes, of bad things we’ve done… to never show chinks in our armour. To never be vulnerable! That’s the conventional consensus on first date etiquette. We’re told if we’re going to get others to like us, we need to avoid “taboo topics”.
“The problem with “expert dating advice” nowadays is it’s all geared towards playing games, and showing a false façade, lest your date REALLY find out who you are.”
These tactics don’t help you make a REAL connection, or build a foundation for an authentic, fulfilling relationship. One blog post on the dating site RSVP, by “dating expert” John Aiken, featured on the (appalling) dating show Married At First Sight, reads:
“For those of you that tend to struggle with this and find yourself putting your foot in it, here is a reminder of topics to avoid on a first date –
– Divorce or your last break-up
– Horror dating experiences
– Financial problems
– Legal issues
– Sexual preferences
– How much money you both make
– Past history of cheating
– How you both feel about commitment
– Difficult events in your upbringing”
Certainly, any talk about how much you make is tacky, but hiding these other things about you sets up incorrect expectations about who you are, and doesn’t demonstrate your humanness, unique story, or what makes you interesting. It also makes it far less likely you’ll eventually find yourself in the right relationship.
The truth is that so many people do relationships wrong! You put on a first date performance in order to manipulate others’ perceptions of you in order to get them to like you (the “you” that it’s ok to show). And indeed, this strategy often works; you convince a girl to like you, enter into a relationship, and spend the next few years trying to uphold the unrealistic image of you that they bought into, only to find the mask becomes too heavy for you to keeping wearing. Or worse, you wake up 10 years into a marriage you suddenly realise is a total and utter sham! You have nothing in common with your wife, and they have no idea who you truly are on the inside and the fundamental need to be seen and accepted for who you are drives you into affairs or to spiral into misery. But the massive hole can’t be filled. You feel disconnected from yourself and others around you.
Unfortunately, this is all too often a pattern I see playing out for men. Not surprisingly, it can be traced back to a resistance to exercising vulnerability in front of others. Men often don’t allow themselves to be seen by others, and this resistance drives them into relationships and lifestyles that don’t serve them.
The reasons I share my vulnerabilities are threefold:
Firstly, to live a transparent and truthful existence allows me to be completely emotionally unburdened with far less stress or drama.
Secondly, this transparency essentially helps me screen women to ensure they’re compatible with my values. They self-select themselves either in or out of consideration as potential relationship material.
“Misaligned values are the number 1 cause of bad relationships”
Putting myself out there warts and all allows women to see who I truly am from the very beginning, so that I know they appreciate me BECAUSE of my faults and vulnerabilities, and not in spite of them.
Thirdly, by sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with full ownership and confidence, I provide women the rare opportunity to safely share their own vulnerabilities and to be fully seen and acknowledged at a deep level, which can be the most liberating, seductive, and exhilarating experience of all, and creates a deeply intimate connection very quickly.
Dispelling the Myths of Vulnerability
- Vulnerability = weakness
False. It actually takes a lot of courage and strength to be willing to be open and vulnerable to someone. Paradoxically, by showing vulnerability, you are demonstrating how much power you own over yourself, and how solid you can stand within yourself.
- Vulnerability = unmanly; for “sissys”
False. There’s an idea being perpetuated that it’s not okay for men to demonstrate that they’re not perfect. Newsflash: nobody is perfect, and nobody has lived a life without doing something wrong, or without ever being hurt… if anyone did, they’d make for pretty boring conversation!
- Vulnerability = risk of being hurt
Unlikely. The strange thing is the more you own your vulnerabilities, the less power others have to use them against you. It’s like pulling the fuses out of the bombs you’re handing over. And others are far more likely to share their own vulnerabilities in return, which puts them in the same position.
- Vulnerability = unattractive
False. A man who’s solid and comfortable enough to divulge all of his deepest vulnerabilities is possibly the MOST attractive to women. Only this kind of man that can hold space to enable her most vulnerable and real self—and nothing is more intoxicating to a woman than that!
Vulnerability is actually a demonstration of strength.
By sharing the rawer, more authentic aspects of who you are, you invite others to share deeply of themselves. It’s a sign of self-awareness, the most attractive, but rarest of qualities to find in a person.
For those of you who afraid disclosing so much leads to rejection, fear not. Whenever I disclose my deepest self, I quickly form a deep bond which in most cases, leads to establishing physical and emotional intimacy. The power of the connection created through demonstrating vulnerabilities shouldn’t be underestimated.
However, sexual bonding should never be your intention, but merely a natural outcome of being real and authentic. Using vulnerability as a manipulative tactic will only energetically repel the person you’re seeking to attract, so exercise personal responsibility and integrity.
So, Why Is Vulnerability So Powerful?
Vulnerability demonstrates your raw, authentic depth as a person, and in the age of social media, it seems so many around us are obsessed with curating an image of perfection. Surrounded by these picture-perfect Instagram lifestyles, it’s easy to become envious, whilst simultaneously feeling very disconnected from others’ apparent “reality”. It’s thus incredibly refreshing to find those who can unflinchingly stand in all the messiness of the human condition, self-aware, and unafraid. We can closely relate to their less than picture-perfect existence.
Owning your vulnerabilities shows maturity, emotional awareness, self-awareness, and an ability to learn and grow from failures as well as successes. And an upward trajectory in life. All very sexy stuff!
Vulnerability enables others to see who you really are—all the blemishes and bumps in your life. The more you own these experiences the more interesting and confident you become. It shows you’ve transcended challenges in your life, or are at least bravely tackling them, making you much more trustworthy and compelling in the eyes of others around you.
This creates a vortex of safety around you as it allows them to relax into their own self without worrying about fierce judgment. Just as in Japanese tradition, when one person bows to another—literally offering your head for someone else to cut off with their sword—It encourages the other person to reciprocate in kind. When you share your darkest shadows, it enables others to feel safe in sharing their own secrets.
And this creates a deep connection. Women, in particular, deeply desire to be seen and held in their vulnerability. It is the key to unlocking her full surrender in an emotional sense; a man who doesn’t own his vulnerabilities isn’t trustworthy in this regard, and will never truly deeply connect with a woman in this way.
Vulnerability is thus the path to creating true intimacy and deep connection with women.
So, What Exactly Are These Vulnerabilities You’re Talking About?
There are five major types of vulnerabilities:
1. Your dreams and desires
2. Your failures and traumas
3. Your insecurities
4. Your feelings and emotions
5. Your values.
As we delve deeply into each of these areas things can become more polarising and embarrassing, such as our sexual fantasies, or wanting to buck societal pressure to conform to a certain lifestyle.
At the heart of any vulnerability, is the fear of rejection, which often stops us from behaving and communicating our true selves.
For example, in my own case, being ethically non-monogamous is a definite deal-breaker for 80-90% of women. This made it an awkward topic of conversation early on. And indeed, I’d often get rejected by women once I sheepishly admitted to being non-monogamous. But this was more about them feeling like they’d been duped, a rejection of my values.
And over time I also realised “rejection” was more of a filter for incompatible women, and so I started owning that this value was a part of me. And the more confidence I demonstrated about how and why it was valuable to me, the more women became genuinely curious to try it anyway despite never having ever considered being with someone non-monogamous before. It was how I owned my vulnerabilities that made me attractive in their eyes.
However, there will be more sensitive areas than others that you will be reticent to share. An important thing to ask yourself, is “Do I have my shit together on this, or not?”. If you don’t, you at least want a plan about how you’re tackling this, or you may not be relationship-ready just yet.
If you can’t confidently own your situation or vulnerabilities, these may be weaknesses you need to address, and it’s time to work on yourself to change that. Personal development programs, or coaching may be a valuable in preparing yourself for a successful long-term relationship.
9 TIPS on the Dos and Don’ts of Vulnerability
- Share: Your life, challenges, misdeeds, your learnings, how you’ve developed.
- Share with the specific intention to be real, genuine, and authentic; share to connect.
- Ask yourself if you’re sharing because it’s your truth and if it’s the right thing to say, or if it’s just in order to get a particular response back (in which case, don’t).
- Think about the affect your sharings may have on the other person involved… will it offend or frighten them? Balance this consideration with what is the kind thing to say. You may need to pre-frame a conversation beforehand to ensure your vulnerability isn’t judged unfairly.
- Start small and work your way to your more challenging vulnerabilities to enable you to build rapport and connection as well as test and gauge their responses so you can assess whether or not you want to entrust them with your deeper stories.
- Feel into the energy of the other person as you go… sense if they are responding well, providing their own stories, or if it’s just a one-way conversation. Are they engaged or switched off?
- Don’t share things that demonstrate that you’re out of control, that you’re helpless, or that you’ve not learned from mistakes. Work to rectify these situations before you’re out dating.
- Don’t share just to be “seen” in a particular way, or show “vulnerability” just for sake of proving how sensitive you are, share to manipulate/to gather fodder to use against the other person
- Don’t share if you haven’t truly learnt and embodied the lesson… it means you still need to process, and not all processing should be done in public, as it just shows a lack of self-awareness.
- Don’t apologise for your vulnerabilities just because they aren’t aligned to another’s opinion/value/expectation. This just demonstrates that you don’t fully respect yourself, or can’t stand by your reasons, or worse, are just trying to appease the other person, which is not attractive.
Andrew Mashiko is a Melbourne-based dating, sex and relationship coach. Disillusioned after a failed marriage ended in attempted suicide, and a number of years of unsatisfying experiences in the pickup artist community, Andrew turned to self-development and tantric traditions to learn ho
w to truly love and connect—the key to which, he discovered, is Radical Authenticity. Andrew now specialises in teaching men and women the art of connection and seduction through practicing Radical Authenticity and by developing High-Status Charisma.
For information on local events and on how to work with Andrew to develop powerful, high-status charisma, and improve your success in the game of dating, visit www.CoreMagnetism.com