I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of vulnerability and how we can implement it in our lives to make deeper connections and ultimately have more satisfying relationships.
Interestingly, I get a lot of questions surrounding the same issues about vulnerability, so I figured I’d try to clarify myself here, once and for all.
As a quick refresher, vulnerability is consciously choosing to NOT hide your emotions or desires from others. This can be as simple as complimenting someone on how good they look, approaching an attractive stranger you don’t know, establishing clear and strong boundaries, or expressing your undying love to someone.
Vulnerability is the cornerstone concept of my book Models: Attract Women Through Honesty.
The benefits to vulnerability are massive, although not always pleasantly achieved. In fact, vulnerability is usually downright uncomfortable. But that’s OK. Because being vulnerable in your interactions creates a greater deal of trust and intimacy, removes games and ambiguity, creates sexual tension through bold behaviors, accelerates sexual and romantic relationships, builds self-esteem and (usually) demonstrates confidence to the other person.
And no, you don’t have to be unbelievably good-looking, or rich, or whatever. This is for humans. That means ALL humans. ALL relationships. It just happens to make your sexual relationships far more sexy and intimate.
People don’t realize this, but honesty is sexy. Exposing yourself is, err… sexy. Saying, “Look, let’s cut the bullshit, I think you’re great and would rather hang out with you alone,” is attractive when you say it with conviction and mean it. Saying, “This is a bit awkward, but it’s only because I feel a little nervous around you,” is, believe it or not, a universally attractive statement when it’s genuine.
The logic is simple:
The greatest demonstration of power and security is to actually make oneself defenseless, to become as comfortable with one’s weaknesses as possible.
When accompanied by authenticity and personal accountability, vulnerability is almost always an extremely attractive behavior. When it’s not attractive, then it signals legitimate incompatibility. All in all, it makes your dating life 1,000 times easier and more fun to navigate.
The Two Mistakes
There are two big mistakes people make when attempting to be more vulnerable and authentic. The first mistake is that they view vulnerability as simply another technique. They think, “Oh, I’ll just share everything bad about me and they’ll be fawning over me in no time.” The point of vulnerability is a relinquishing of control, not a tool for further control.
Any expression of emotions or vulnerability must be unconditional, that is, without expectation, otherwise it’s just another form of manipulation.
If you share a heartbreaking story about your dog dying because you think that’s what someone wants to hear and that it will make someone like you or be attracted to you, then you’re doing it wrong. That’s not genuine, and therefore it is not vulnerable. Not only are you continuing to be fake and inauthentic, but you’re now whoring out some of your most cherished life memories to try to get someone to like you or even to sleep with you. Congratulations. You are officially desperate.
Instead, you should share the story of your dying dog and the emotions that went along with it either because a) you are genuinely inspired to by the conversation, or b) as a way of relating to the emotions or experiences of whomever you are speaking to. Boom. It’s just who you are. And here it is. No expectations. No desire to control people’s perceptions of you. Just share yourself and let go.
So that’s the first mistake people make. Pretty straightforward.
The second mistake with vulnerability is more complicated and is something I lovingly refer to as “emotional vomit.”
Emotional Vomit and You
Emotional vomit is when you suddenly unload an inappropriate amount of emotions and personal history into a conversation, usually to the utter horror of the person listening.
Emotional vomit is difficult because on the one hand, it is genuinely vulnerable, but on the other hand, it’s repellant and unattractive. In effect, you’re being open and authentic about how needy and pathetic you are. And whether hidden or apparent, neediness is never attractive.
So I get a lot of emails saying, “I was vulnerable, I went on and on about how much I loved my ex, and it turned them off. What gives?”
The mistake people make with emotional vomit is that they expect the simple act of vomiting it out to suddenly fix their issues. The point of emotional vomit is to make you aware of your issues, so you can fix them. When I went on and on about what a lying stupid whore my ex was, all of that anger didn’t fix my neediness. What it did was got me to see how angry and loathsome I had become without me even knowing it. When we’re isolated in the padded walls of our minds, it’s easy to believe we’re justified in everything we think or feel. It’s when we expose those thoughts and feelings to the light that we realize how far off track we’ve become and it allows us to readjust in the future.
And that’s what I noticed. I noticed that for how angry I was, I certainly wasn’t nearly as “over her” as I thought I was. It was around this time that I got into therapy, which helped me realize that my anger at my ex went even deeper and was also related to issues with my family.
Eventually, after more reflection and calming down a bit, I was able to realize that actually, I had placed an inordinate amount of expectations on my ex and I hadn’t been such a great boyfriend either. This effectively resolved much of the issue for me, much of the anger for her and for women in general. But it was hard and painful to get there.
The emotional vomit gave me the awareness to do my healing, but it wasn’t the healing by itself. Eventually, you have to become accountable to your own thoughts and feelings and work them out. If not, then you’re just going to continue to be angry and frustrated, turning off everyone you come across.
Professions of Undying Love, Blah, blah, blah
But in most of the complaints I get about emotional vomit, it involves the man professing his undying love to a woman and freaking the girl out. The men often feel cheated, as they put themselves on the line and gave these women the gift of their love and emotions.
Although getting rejected in this way sucks, I would call this a good problem to have. Because it shows you that your emotional investment is incredibly disproportional to your actual dating experiences. If I went on a coffee date with a woman, and she wrote me a six page email professing her undying love for me, I would freak out too. Yes, she’s putting herself out there and making herself vulnerable, but her emotions are completely disproportional to the substance of our relationship, and are therefore needy and a turn off.
People who do this are demonstrating anxious attachment behavior.
They’ll usually find a way to blame others for not appreciating them or for taking advantage of them. What they should be doing is looking at what inspired their own emotions and whether those emotions are reasonable or not. Are you daydreaming about marriage before you even kiss? Are you crying because they cancelled your date to watch the baseball game together?
The intensity of your emotion is not proportional to the depth of the relationship and should be a glaring billboard letting you know that the issue runs deeper within yourself and not with the other person. You’re not in love. You’re in love with the idea of being in love. You’re in love with the idea of not being alone or not being desperate anymore. The other person is interchangeable and meaningless.
Most people with even a moderate degree of healthy adjustment can sense this. And that is why this is so unattractive.
Take responsibility for your emotional vomit. Analyze the emotions inspiring it. Be accountable to them. And then build yourself up and invest in yourself to overcome your neediness. This is not a short-term solution. This is a long-term life investment. So start implementing it now.
Note: If you want to get really deep into vulnerability and why it’s so important to emotional health, check out Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly.