by Georgie Patrice
Think back to grade school when you had your first crush.
Remember how you felt you needed to keep it a secret?
At a young age, we often latch onto the idea pretty quickly that being vulnerable is a bad thing.
We can’t let anyone know how we’re feeling… we have to guard ourselves in fear of rejection… in fear of getting our hearts broken.
It’s human nature.
But as we grow, mature, and gain more romantic experience, we’re told – or at least I was told – that the “right” thing to do… the “adult” thing to do… is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
So we give it some thought, and we give this whole being vulnerable thing a try.
Or at least we think that’s what we’re doing… but more often than not, our attempts at being vulnerable aren’t as authentic as we believe they are.
So how do you know if what you’re doing counts as true vulnerability?
How do you know if you’re being vulnerable, or if you’re being, as I so gently put it in my title (can you sense my sarcasm there?) …..desperate?
Well, first let’s talk about what vulnerability really is.
A long, long time ago, I used to think that “being vulnerable” meant being totally open with your feelings, whenever you wanted to, no matter what they were.
For example, if I was missing a guy I was dating at the time – okay….if I was thinking about him non-stop but wasn’t hearing from him – I would send him a text to let him know how much I missed him and that I was thinking of him.
My thought process went like this: Because I was allowing myself to be open with my emotions – and after all, they were my true emotions – I was being vulnerable.
I was being real with him, so I was being vulnerable, right?
While I guess I was kind of on the right track, there’s way more to it than that.
I want you to imagine this: A man and a woman meet and begin dating. It’s in the very, very early stages, and not much has really been established yet.
Each party – but let’s focus on the woman for now, essentially has no idea what the other party is doing.
She doesn’t know if he is dating other women at the same time, if he is looking for other options, what his intentions are with her, or anything!
Of course over time she will learn all of that about him, but for now, she really has no other choice but to allow herself to be open to the possibility of getting hurt by this man in some way.
The only other option she has in this situation is to close off her heart to him and build up a brick wall around herself so that he has no way of hurting her.
…But if she plans on doing that (which majority of us do subconsciously) she might as well just get a huge neon yellow sign and write, “I’M NOT AVAILABLE FOR LOVE…STAY AWAY!” in permanent black marker.
Being vulnerable is simply being open to the possibility that you could get hurt…. and being okay with it anyway.
It’s all about just…. Being.
Allowing yourself to be scared, to be sad, to be happy, to be excited – and being okay with those feelings.
Vulnerability is also being real with a man about your emotions, yes, but not in the way that you might think.
There is being vulnerable, and then there is being what I call, “Vampire Vulnerable.”
Have you ever been around a person who you feel just sucks the life out of you?
A person who is just so insecure, or so unhappy with themselves, that they need this constant approval or attention from another in order to feel good?
That’s essentially what I was talking about earlier…
I had been in the beginning stages of dating someone, (I had no idea what his intentions were at that point and therefore had to allow myself to be open to the possibility of getting hurt…) but instead of being vulnerable with him, I was being Vampire Vulnerable.
I thought, “What’s the harm in shooting him a little text letting him know I’m thinking of him and miss him? I’m just being honest!”
But let’s get real.
Deep down, I was doing this because I was seeking some kind of approval – approval or reassurance that he was still into me and that he wasn’t going anywhere.
I was seeking to get something from him because I didn’t feel good enough on my own.
I needed some type of validation in that moment.
In other words, it was a self serving act out of desperation…which translates to Vampire Vulnerable.
Now, on the other hand, if this was someone who I’d been with long term and we had both proven ourselves to each other over the years, it would be totally okay to send a text like that.
It’s okay to do those kinds of things when you’re established with another person.
Because you’re already emotionally connected to them.
You aren’t sucking value from them – like a vampire – in order to feel more valuable yourself.
You’re actually adding to their value because you’re not doing it to get something from them.
Being truly vulnerable is all about being your true, authentic self, while at the same time not sucking value from another person for your own benefit.
If you’re feeling unsure or scared in a situation with a man, being vulnerable is not about looking for reassurance from him in order to feel better.
It’s about allowing yourself to feel the icky feelings, being okay with it, and leaving it at that.
If you want to express those feelings to him, it’s okay, (although you don’t have to) as long as you’re not doing it in a way where you are seeking to get something from him.
Simply stating how you feel – whether it’s to him, or just to yourself – without needing anything back in return – that is vulnerability.
Next time you’re feeling crappy about yourself because things aren’t going the way you want them to with the guy, check in with yourself before doing anything. Are you coming from a place of lack and looking outside of yourself to feel better, or are you giving yourself permission to be okay with any emotion that comes your way, and relaxing into that feeling?
Author of “A New Confidence: The Ultimate Beauty Overhaul – Inside and Out,” Georgie is a former beauty editor turned relationship coach. During her magazine days, she was constantly surrounded by countless amazing, smart and very driven women who had been having trouble finding love all their lives.
It made her wonder… Why does it seem so effortless for some women to find amazing men who adore them and worship the ground they walk on, while for other women it just seems impossible? She became determined to find out why.
Having trained under relationship guru Rori Raye, Georgie can give you access to the secrets you need to know in order to get all the love, attention, and affection from a man that you crave, fast!