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When I was younger, I naively regarded vulnerability as weakness. I thought the entire ethos behind it was, for some reason, unattractive and pathetic. This crooked view of vulnerability was especially prevalent when I was trying to get back with my ex — as is the case with most people.
Instead of revealing my authentic self to her, I hid behind a fake persona — someone indifferent, mysterious, and suave. I basically altered my entire identity and character to please my ex and raise her attraction for me. I cared more about how she perceived me than how I perceived myself. I was, by definition, a needy piece of shit.
I figured that if I did all of this, she would fall in love with the new-fake-me, and we would eventually get back together, at which point I could drop the whole act — at least a bit.
Turns out it’s not that simple.
From the moment I sent my first string of texts, she knew I was faking my calm and collected disposition. Yet, I still persisted with my performance. And the more I performed — the harder I tried to hide my authentic self — the deeper I reinforced my belief that I’m not good enough for my ex the way I am.
In the end, not only did I not get back with my ex, but I also left my self-esteem in shambles and kept struggling in my love life years following my breakup for the same reason I struggled in re-attraction — a lack of vulnerability.
Addressing The Reservations
Lots of people have reservations around this topic. They often consider vulnerability a form of weakness. They believe the whole thing is some hippie, feel-good, woo-woo shit. And they often equate it with pleading for acceptance, hand-holding and dancing around a campfire at a self-help seminar you paid way too much for, or reciting how you love yourself in front of a mirror 50 times every morning.
However, real vulnerability has nothing to do with these things. Real vulnerability is actually far simpler, more mundane, yet way more powerful than all of the preconceived, wishy-washy notions people have around it. It’s also backed by large-scale, highly funded studies, has heaps of empirical data, and countless titans researching it and confirming its effectiveness.
When done right, vulnerability builds intimacy and trust, removes ambiguity, creates sexual tension, improves self-esteem, and (usually) demonstrates confidence and courage. It also melts away performance, torches neediness, implies to you that you’re of equal status to your ex, and reinforces the idea that you are worthy, that you are adequate, and that you should feel that way.
For these reasons, I’m convinced vulnerability is the best and only proper means of re-attraction. It’s the one thing that should permeate across all interactions you have with your ex. I like to think about it as the key to rekindling your relationship, the key to better relationships.
What Is Vulnerability
In a nutshell, it means expressing your thoughts, desires, and emotions while staying unguarded and undefended, and not expecting a particular response in return. When you’re vulnerable, you’re communicating, “This is who I am. Take it or leave it.” In a way, you’re sticking your neck out emotionally and putting yourself in a position where you can be hurt.
You’ve heard that right.
Real vulnerability is risky, uncomfortable, and often has tangible consequences. You may piss off your ex. You may turn them off. You may destroy your chances of ever getting them back. But the key is to accept those consequences. Because if you’re lucky enough to mend your relationship while being truly vulnerable, the odds of making it healthy and lasting skyrocket.
Mistakes People Make With Vulnerability
There are two big mistakes people make when they attempt to be more vulnerable. The first is treating vulnerability as another tactic. And the second is confusing it with an unrestrained deluge of emotion.
Vulnerability Is Not A Tactic
Many uninformed individuals think, “If I tell my ex this awkward or unusual thing about me, they’ll love me again or like me more.” What they’re actually doing here, however, is committing emotional manipulation. It’s inauthentic. It’s needy. It’s unattractive.
When you’re truly vulnerable, you relinquish control; you express yourself unconditionally, that is, without expectations. So whenever you’re using vulnerability as a tactic, you’re just doing the opposite — you’re trying to promote control; you’re expressing yourself conditionally.
For instance, if I tell my ex about how I got bullied in high school for being the fat, rich kid with the intention of getting them to like me more, I’m being inauthentic and manipulative, thus unattractive. But if I tell the same story with the intention of sharing myself for the pleasure of sharing myself or as a way of relating to my ex’s emotions, experiences, and stories, then I’m being authentic and vulnerable, thus attractive.
Generally, think of vulnerability as a mindset rather than a tactic or a conversational tool. It’s a reflection of how comfortable you are in your own skin. And until you drop the mindset of tactics and conversational tools, you’re going to continue to be lost.
Vulnerability Is Not Emotional Waste
The other mistake people make with vulnerability, especially those with backgrounds of repression is to misperceive it as drowning their ex in unrestrained emotions. They think, “If I tell my ex everything that’s bugging me or all my insecurities or if I profess my undying love, they’ll like me more.” While this technically is vulnerability, it’s a toxic and unattractive kind.
Think of it this way. If I were enjoying myself at a bar right now, maybe in the company of friends or whatnot, and my ex sent me a three-page email professing her eternal love for me, I’d probably freak out.
Or let’s say I go on a date with my ex, and as soon as we sit down, she unleashes a two-hour rant about how all the men she’s dating are low-life assholes. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to continue my date. I would be turned off — as any person with an ounce of self-respect should be. Sure, what my ex is showing is vulnerability, but it’s toxic. Her emotions are completely disproportionate to the depth of our relationship and are therefore unreasonable — not to mention unattractive.
Back to you. Whenever you catch yourself pouring your heart out to your ex, don’t start blaming them for not appreciating it. Of course they don’t appreciate it. It’s creepy, unpleasant, and uncalled for. Instead, like with neediness, investigate your behavior, scrutinize the intentions behind it, and figure out what emotions or triggers inspired it and whether those emotions or triggers are reasonable or not.
How To Be More Vulnerable
I get that vulnerability is an abstract topic and that many people have difficulty understanding it even after reading about what it is. So, let me put forward a couple of examples of what vulnerability actually looks like in the context of re-attraction, so you can get a better idea of how to practice it.
- Confessing how you still love your ex and want them back.
- Admitting your mistakes and how you’d avoid repeating them.
- Acknowledging how your ex’s actions have hurt you.
- Sharing a painful, personal story that relates to the one your ex shared.
- Asserting your boundaries and standing up for what you believe in.
- Calling your ex out on their bullshit if they disrespect you.
- Apologizing to your ex for something you’ve done because you genuinely regret it.
- Telling your ex to take it slow in the bedroom because you’re nervous.
Now even though these examples feel and look like behavioral prescriptions, they’re not. I’m not telling you to do something, I’m telling you to be something. Vulnerability, as I alluded to earlier, is not about doing but about being.
The Pain Period
The last thing I’ll mention is that with vulnerability comes a pain period. If you’ve faked who you are for months or years and just recently started being vulnerable, you can expect your ex to react unfavorably for a time. You could even expect a swift and perhaps permanent rejection. But what other choice do you really have?
You can continue hiding your emotional baggage and limit the emotional connection, trust, and intimacy you can develop with your ex, or you can begin airing out that baggage, dealing with the embarrassing repercussions, disapproval, and hopefully only temporary rejection. It’s not fun. It sucks. But it’s a necessary evil.
And sure, you don’t have to technically deal with your emotional baggage with only your ex. You can work through that muck by sharing it with friends, family, or a therapist. But there will always be some issues that can only be dealt with while interacting with your ex, particularly issues revolving around inferiority and intimacy.
So go out there and start being vulnerable. Begin today, and you’ll slowly become comfortable with the whole thing. You’ll grow unattached to it. And then it’ll start to feel like second nature.
Even better, once you pop out of the other side of the pain period, you’ll become a more attractive, confident, and self-accepting person. A person capable of finding new layers of depth and meaning in their relationships — in all their relationships.
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