It is hard for a man to be vulnerable.
The kind of hard where you feel like you might die to admit to something you are feeling. To say, “I’m not sure how to do this, I’m scared,” is something boys are taught to deny. This enculturation means you act like you have it all together and are on top of things. Whether it’s true or not.
What a woman desperately wants is to feel that intimate space when a man is willing to let down his masks and admit to his deeper feelings. We have this major gap in relationships. Men are unable to show their soft parts and women are so desperate to see them.
So how does a man do this?
Lots of talk goes around about being vulnerable or not being vulnerable? Brené Brown tells us that in order to be courageous everyone needs to be vulnerable. “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” (Daring Greatly).
The problem I see is that boys and young men have few examples of this vulnerability being done by a man fully in his power. Most of the examples of this vulnerability are examples of women doing it. Whether our moms or our partners we only get to see female vulnerability.
Female vulnerability is strong and powerful too. But what does it mean for a man to show his emotions and his limitations while staying completely in his power? I’m fortunate to be around a lot of amazing conscious men and, still, have rarely seen this display. Fully empowered vulnerable men who are willing to go deep into intimacy with their woman and trust the woman can hold them.
If showing your feelings involves being weak then being vulnerable, for many men, means collapsing.
Collapsing means dropping your power and getting needy. For many women this is the opposite of what they want.
True masculine power happens when courage, integrity, vulnerability, compassion, awareness, and the capacity to take strong action are all functioning together. Such power is potent but not aggressive, challenging but not shaming, grounded but not rigid, forceful but not pushy. Again, it requires head, heart, and guts in full-blooded alignment. (Masters, To Be A Man)
Vulnerability, for many men can feel like a loss of power.
It can feel like being weak. Since it feels like this, men show up in their vulnerability as weakened shells. It makes sense. If all I have ever seen is men either in denial or weakened shells then I figure that is how you do it.
Men nonetheless need to soften, and also to strip “softening” of its negative connotations. Yes, a man can be overly soft, marooned from power and the capacity for rock-solid firmness, but softness itself makes possible vulnerability, empathy, compassion, emotional literacy, and genuinely deep connections with others. Softness does not necessarily mean an absence of courage! To be unapologetically vulnerable is not to be unmanned, but to be deepened in your manhood. (Masters,To Be A Man)
Real vulnerability, as opposed to this pseudo-needy-vulnerability, is staying true to yourself.
It is showing up in all your masculine energy. It is standing tall and saying this with conviction. Vulnerability is NOT WEAK. Softness is the capacity to be present and open when it may be much easier to push out with aggression.
So I encourage all men to learn how to show up as your bold self in honest uncertainty.
Let the tears flow while still feeling your spine. Know that showing a woman your vulnerable side is one of the deepest ways she can feel and respect you. By doing this we can continue to chip away at this one-sided view of masculinity that only allows for collapse or denial.