Is vulnerability manly?

Ugh, emotions and feelings and self-disclosure and stuff.

Some of us men don’t really care for that, right? Not when we could be out crushing our goals, swooping ladies, and living a lifestyle of action, not just sitting around and ruminating on our feelings.

Well, it’s not either/or. You don’t have to choose between being a stoic alpha who never shows his feelings or a needy, whiny bitch of a man who cries about all the bad things that have happened to him.

Do We Really Want Men to Be More Vulnerable? | Intellectual Takeout

In fact, the former men are some of the biggest emotional wrecks you’ll meet. They may put up a tough, cold, rational, manly exterior, but they’re burying something painful, and the more they repress it, the more volatile it’ll be when it comes out.

That used to be me. I’d put up a “cool, rational, social guy” exterior around others, then when I’d be alone or drunk, my repressed feelings and emotional damage would come out in ugly ways. I couldn’t predict these emotional storms of mine.

I could be at a party having a fun, social time… Then suddenly need to get away from everyone and sit down by myself. A few times, I got overly rowdy because of it and once even had an intense drunk, validation-seeking emotional breakdown in front of everyone.

Not doing that again, I thought when I was hungover the next day.

All my dates would go nowhere, and that’s when I’d actually get a girl out. When I’d meet a girl I was really attracted to, I’d usually shy away and have no idea what to say to her or do with her that wasn’t super-calculated to paint me as an interesting, dominant, attractive guy. This tactic DID NOT get me any girls ever.

Then I discovered the concept of VULNERABILITY and well, it was a game-changer for me.

I learned to be more open about what I was REALLY thinking and feeling, not just putting up a calculated image even when I was trying to get someone to feel sorry for me. Not trying to be some perfect, cool, dominant, “alpha” guy anymore.

Not only did this finally get me some girls, but it made it easier for me to filter out girls who were truly a bad fit for me, and it made me a whole lot more comfortable with myself, as I realized EVERYONE has unexpressed thoughts, feelings, and emotional wounds.

(Plus it made me realize that the times I DID get a girl into me in the past were the times when I’d lost myself in the moment and been automatically vulnerable for it, not trying to calculate my way into her pants. Why THOSE girls liked me used to baffle me. I’d think it was purely random. Nope.)

Now, there’s a way to be vulnerable as a man that’s attractive and masculine…

And a way to be vulnerable that’ll get people thinking of you as a weak little bitch, sadly.

You want the former, not the latter, obviously. So let’s get into the difference between the two.

Attractive vulnerability comes from a position of strength and power

There is nothing more repulsive in a man, to both men and women, than neediness and complaining. This neediness is repulsive on a conscious level, as it shows a man’s lack of true substance, and on an unconscious level, as it shows that emotionally, he’s still a little boy who craves mommy’s warm, safe embrace. A man like this has no sense of self-direction and can’t be depended on.

Men are meant to be the people who other people (women, his brothers, his children, his community) depend on. Being needy is the anti-this, as both men and women depend on a man’s agency and self-direction to provide for them.

Now, life’s always got its hard times. It’s always got the moments that break you and all sorts of unexpected bullshit that ruins things for you and makes you think there’s no recovering from it. That’s half the fun of living. If you as a man didn’t feel a wide spectrum of emotion, you’d be a psychopath.

The key when being vulnerable about these parts of your life is to paint them in a way that shows your AGENCY in them.

Everyone gets their ass kicked by life sometimes.

Being open about and unashamed of your negative moments and seasons will eliminate your toxic shame about them, get you more comfortable with your holistic self, and get people around you feeling the same way about their emotions, experiences, and selves. As long as in your story, you’re the hero who grew from his losses, not the victim who got crushed by the world.

There’s a difference between telling this story: “I got bullied in high school and it made me feel horrible about myself, I hated everything about my life, and I just wished someone would see the good in me and treat me like a real friend.”

And this one: “I got bullied in high school, and it hurt a lot. I hated myself and thought no one would ever like me or want to be my friend. Then I realized I wasn’t sticking up for myself enough, so I started lifting weights and working on my social skills. Now I could get bullied like that again, and I’d just shrug it off.”

The former is a needy cry for help, the latter is a tale of overcoming a problem and gaining confidence. The former would paint you as a whiny bitch, the latter would paint you as a normal cool dude who faced a challenge and grew from it.

Plus, other people don’t want to be responsible for your emotions.

People don’t want you to have a perfect past where you were the coolest dude around and you won at everything. That’s not human, not endearing, not relatable. Being a big man like that can give people a brief initial high of “wow, he’s cool” around you, but past that, stories of perfection and of how your problems were so much bigger and cooler than theirs will bore them and make you seem alien to them.

Revealing your flaws and past mistakes in ways that show your agency over your life is a powerful tool for getting to know someone. People don’t enjoy the burden of perfection unless they’re emotionally repressed.

One story I like to tell about my past is about a period of time where I was addicted to alcohol, getting drunk all the damn time between taking care of responsibilities. Emotionally, I was a needy wreck during those months. And I could very easily tell that story like “I got addicted to alcohol because I felt rejected by everyone around me whenever I wasn’t the center of attention, my mental health wasn’t in the best place, and I wanted a way to have fun and get the dopamine flowing that didn’t depend on other people.”

Instead, I tell it like: “I used to be addicted to alcohol, and despite that, I made the best gains of my life and set all my strength PRs when I was drinking moderately to heavily. It went against all the conventional fitness advice that says alcohol is bad for gains. Guess booze is anabolic for me.”

I leave out any excessive description of how I’d feel and why I’d feel that way, because honestly, who gives a shit about how I felt many years ago but me? The point of the latter story isn’t to vent, but to show something illogical and interesting that I experienced.

That leads me to my next point…

Calibrate your vulnerability to the context

You’re not going to be spilling your life story, various exploits, and tales of heroism to absolutely anyone you talk to. There’s a time and a place for whatever story you have to tell.

Young woman at dentist appointment 956276 Stock Photo
“All these boys keep blowing up my phone and this one guy keeps asking me if I’ve stayed hydrated today, which is sweet, but he doesn’t have a car, so…”

Vulnerability often doesn’t mean sharing your most painful moments or getting super emotionally intimate with someone about your most meaningful experiences. It simply means being UNCONDITIONALLY TRUTHFUL about your thoughts and feelings.

That means sharing yourself not to angle someone into seeing you a certain way, but to genuinely connect and see if there’s something deeper there.

It can be as simple as telling someone whose presence you appreciate, that you appreciate them. Or complimenting how someone’s dressed. Or telling them you want to hang out again sometime (for real, not just to be polite). Or pointing out something cool that’s going on in your life or around you. Or saying something polarizing or potentially offensive that you truly believe in, disagreement be damned.

People who are afraid to express this positive form of vulnerability are scared of being hurt and rejected. If you’re wishy-washy and part of the crowd like this, a lot of people will tolerate you and possibly even like you, but no one will love you.

Vulnerability is especially powerful in dating. There is no love without vulnerability. People who fear vulnerability fear being loved for all they have to offer.

Showing a woman you’re interested in her, complimenting something about her that you genuinely like, dancing the dance of sexuality with her, putting yourself out there to meet new women… All of those contain an inherent risk of rejection and being made a fool of. THESE EXPERIENCES REQUIRE A HEALTHY SENSE OF VULNERABILITY. Lesser men shy away from them. Superior men risk the rejections because they have values above their own comfort – truth, love, self-actualization, action.

You can get some women with a lack of vulnerability, but these aren’t women you’d have a healthy relationship with. These are women who don’t like their holistic selves. These are women who censor parts of themselves they’re ashamed of, and expect the men in their lives to do the same. With a man who has a healthy sense of vulnerability, they’ll only cause drama, or more commonly, close up and wait for him to fuck off.

The more comfortable you are with understanding and expressing your holistic self, the more you’ll find yourself connecting with women who are similarly comfortable with themselves, leading to healthier, more emotionally intimate, more lighthearted relationships and interactions.

A non-vulnerable man will typically have a tough time making a move on confident, vulnerable women. He’ll fear expressing his sexuality and being rejected and made fun of, then settle for a similarly non-vulnerable woman whose emotional world aligns with his, and their respective repressed emotions will blow up more and more through their personas as the relationship progresses.

A vulnerable man will be unashamed of how he feels about the women who excite him, and he’ll be quick to escalate with the ones he feels a real connection with. He’ll recover quickly when one rejects him and not be mad at her for it, figuring that he’s worth a woman who likes his holistic self, not just any half-decently-attractive one. He’ll repel most non-vulnerable women and vibe more easily with confident, vulnerable ones.

The awkward stage

Vulnerability is often uncomfortable. The more inexperienced you are with it, the more so.

I don’t just mean for you. If you’re a vulnerable man (or woman), then you’ll make some people around you uncomfortable, even if you calibrate yourself well. Good. Fuck em. These are people who are disconnected from their own truths, who don’t have values above their own comfort. They’re not uncomfortable because of you, they’re uncomfortable because of their cognitive dissonance around you, so they lash out blaming you for what they’re feeling. (remember, an emotionally healthy person takes 100% responsibility for their own feelings)

If you’ve gone years as a people pleaser who represses his truths to keep other people comfortable, the idea of someone disliking you may make your heart beat fast, getting you searching for a way to make everyone happy again. Fuck you. If no one dislikes you, there’s no true fulfillment in vulnerability. Standing for something also means standing against the opposite of that something.

You can’t be vulnerable and self-directed AND be liked by everyone around you. Every man who’s truly loved by some people is hated by others. Men who are hated by no one are also loved by no one. You can’t have one without the other.

Learning to accept this truth is one part of the awkward stage that men discovering their vulnerability go through. Another is EMOTIONAL VOMIT, and you can’t avoid this one either. If you’re a man who’s gone years repressing his true feelings and emotional needs, they can come out in ugly, weird, volatile ways. But for a lot of guys, this is a necessary step forward. This repressed emotional energy demands movement.

If you find yourself wanting to vent your feelings to someone or anyone, not quite knowing what words to put them into, or blowing up emotionally when you’re drunk, your psyche is demanding an emotional vomiting sesh. So do it in a healthy, controlled way.

Rather than burdening other people with your feelings and potentially scaring them off with your emotional vomit (and modifying your stories and feelings to paint yourself a certain way with them), write your thoughts out in a journal or vent to yourself on camera when you’re alone. Some guys will find therapy beneficial too.

Then you’ll realize that there isn’t anything truly special about your problems. You’re not uniquely victimized. Having feelings – positive and negative – is a normal part of being a man and nothing to be ashamed of. You’re lying to yourself in some ways. To accept your truths and your holistic self means letting go of your constructed, ego-serving self-image. And whatever problems you have, you have the power to solve them or turn them into something good.

That’s what vulnerability’s all about in the end – unconditionally loving yourself and your life for the good AND the bad.

Understanding that everyone around you is on their own journey, facing their own trials, and lying to their own self in some ways. Some of these people will make good company for you and actively decide to be better people. Others won’t, to say the least.

Understanding that your problems are a test of character. You won’t be going through life without them. They’re not unfair burdens nor what defines you. Life’s most amazing experiences won’t come without the painful ones.

If you’re determined to be the best man you can be, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

–  Ben

(And if you’re determined to be the best man you can be, here’s something cool you can do)

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