Love Living, Quit Hating, Everyone Relating

Men being vulnerable

In Emotions, Intimacy, Relationships on October 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

written by Swag  

There is something about intimate relationships that scares the hell out of most men. I read an article the other day that briefly touched on the need for men to be more vulnerable with their partners. Actually, the author was speaking on the male desire to be himself in a relationship. Men aren’t really programmed to want to be vulnerable. It’s viewed as a weakness and it never seems to have any advantages. Personally, I think that being vulnerable with my girl makes me more secure with myself. I am less worried about being Superman and more focused on just being a man.  


Having someone who you believe always has your best interest in mind can be very healing, if you allow it to be. The only problem is, many times, relationships don’t provide the opportunity to be intimately vulnerable for men.  

Laughing couple.

Image via Wikipedia


I know my female readers are probably shrieking right now.  

“Of course we provide the opportunities to be vulnerable.”  

“We would love for them to talk about their feelings.”  

While this may seem like it’s the case, when a man is truly trusting of his partner (which equates to being vulnerable and secure at the same time), he is able to tell her pretty much everything, given his communication is on par.  

If I can’t be vulnerably honest with you, then I do not believe I am on secure footing in our relationship and on some level I do not trust you. I do not believe you will accept me for who I am.  

If you want your partner to be vulnerable with you. If you want your partner to know he can be himself and not just a forced idea, then take note:  

I may not have the vocabulary. If you believe that I should be able to interpret your needs by the aura you give off, then bear with me as I figure out a better way to tell you how I feel than a grunt or shrug. Since I don’t talk about my feelings as much as you, I may not be as adept at labeling them.  

Stop divulging so much so early on. Just because you tell me everything about yourself doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same. Leave a little mystery and let the intimate details flow more organically. In your rush to have me accept everything about you, I may have interpreted some things you told me as ways I think you won’t accept me. For every secret you tell me without us being securely in a relationship, there is a chance I’m putting a personal detail about into the “Can’t tell her that” bucket. I know it’s an assumption, but since I don’t know you well enough to know otherwise, that’s exactly what I going to do right now…assume.  

Get me drunk. I kid, of course, but a little loose juice never hurt. If you want to know more about me, make me a nice strong drink and ask questions….SLOWLY! Wait for your concoction to work its magic before you start asking about my relationship with my pops. Also, time your investigation. Halftime, during Monday Night Football, is not the proper time to have this conversation (and YES, I will be watching Sportscenter afterwards to catch the highlights of the game I just watched).  

Let me be ultra-direct every once in a while. Sometimes, I just want to tell it exactly as I think it. Yes, there is a such thing as having tact and no, my intentions are never to hurt or demean, but I can feel stifled when I have to censor my words. If you trust that your partner cares for you, then you have to be able to take a little stinger every now and again. When he knows he doesn’t have to pull his verbal punches (given they are genuine and not spiteful) then the more honest, vulnerable and trusting he will become overall. Relationships don’t work unless there is a freedom to discuss the issues that may hurt, yet help, our partners.  

Learn to get around the guy version of the story. Sometimes, before my girlfriend asks me a question, she will prefix it with “Give me the girl version.”  This means she wants details and feelings and descriptions and perspective and ambiance and weather and mood and verbatim quotes and….ARRRGGHHH!!!. Sometimes I don’t know how to do that so the guy version still comes out. If this happens with your partner, learn to ask the right questions. More likely than not, he will give you something  you can dig a little deeper on. Asking him immediately about what you want to know may solicit an “I don’t know” response, so learn to ask him about what he would like to expound upon before delving further.  

I am probably out of practice. Guys may not want to but they certainly need to vent a bit about what affects them.  The truth is, though, most men are out of practice. They are not used to leaning on others for emotional support. It’s not hard to see when your partner is stressed, so make sure to take note of the non-verbal cues he gives off. If he looks tired grab him a beer, let him unwind, non-verbally communicate to him that you have his back without pressuring him to open up (this just amounts to nothing but more pressure). It may make him more inclined to actually talk to you when he has relaxed a little. One of the best things about my girlfriend is her ability to know when not to say anything and let me cool off.  

Just because the world wants to jam men into a tiny, simplistic box, it doesn’t mean they are really that simple. All humans have emotions and every human finds the best way for them to express those emotions. Take a week and observe how your man really works and use some of that information to create better suited opportunities for him to become more vulnerable with you. Neither you or him should expect the other person to express themselves as the other would. If you wanted to date someone exactly like yourself, you would carry a full length mirror around everywhere. It’s not that men can’t communicate their vulnerabilities, it’s that they communicate them in a different manner.  


  1. Very true… I’m together with my boyfriend for more than 4 years, and to just talk about his feelings, that’s something we rarely do. But that does not mean that he doesn’t communicate his feelings with me. I had to learn to read between the lines, to observe his behaviour, to listen what he doesn’t say in order to know how he feels.

    But it doesn’t work the other way around. If I want him to know how I feel, I just have to spit it out…

    • I wonder if it’s a habit of culture. I wonder where in the world it’s actually ok for guys to express their feelings openly, because it puts a damper on relationships when a great deal of time is spent decoding your partner rather than supporting them.

    • Yeah, you’re right. I aalcutly just put that in because it sounds funny and helps drive home the point.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elanor R., eric fondren. eric fondren said: Men being vulnerable: […]

  3. Swag- a really excellent piece. Thankyou.

    You have expressed so much of how I feel. This issue has got me into so much trouble. When I feel vulnerable, I can react very badly and either shut down or become defensive (passive aggressive). My partners well intentioned efforts to get me to be more open, actually have completely the opposite effect and as a result, we are now close to break up after 17 years! I have tried to change but after so many (broken) promises to do so, we have both lost faith.

  4. Ugh. My pfrlioe is fairly lengthy and detailed, as well, so I occasionally get the “you think you’re so special” emails, but never to this extreme! I love the Block feature on Match… so helpful…

  5. Aggh!!! So ayinnnog! And yes, it’s taught to men to give a “neg,” but these guys are doing it wrong. A neg is more along the lines of “Are your nails real? Oh, they’re not? Well, I guess they look nice anyway.” It’s only intended to be a slightly backhanded remark. In this case, these guys are just retarded.

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