I hear from women all the time how they are looking for men who are emotionally available, can listen and get them and, most of all, can share from their feelings. We men have mostly learned that it is not safe to do this. There were times early in my life where emotions came up, I cried, I got angry, or something, and was made fun of for it. And, I have been with women who said they appreciated my openness at one time, but later said it was too much. Knowing all of this, and having had these experiences, I am still an advocate for allowing your vulnerability to come through, especially with your partner. Why would I promote this having had these experiences? Because the beauty in it far out-weighs the shame I once held.
It can be very tricky for us, and I talk to many men who are confused on the subject. I have had men tell me flat out that they used to be nice but women disregarded them or took advantage, and so they chose to be jerks. While they still are not experiencing deep and meaningful relationships, they at-least feel protected. The truth is, though, that they also carry around a great deal of resentment towards women and themselves.
During the course of my life, I have sought out the tools and ways to go deep into my own healing and understanding. A weekend course I participated in, The Landmark Forum, was one of the most profound experiences I have had. In this course, I quickly discovered that I had been living my life from fear, based on interpretations of experiences I had that I never wanted to experience again. Being bullied, being rejected by girls and having businesses that failed, were some of the major causes of pain in my life. My subconscious mind wanted to protect me from the hurt, and so I held myself back in a lot of ways. Did those things in my past hurt? Yes. Was being super-cautious and holding myself back going to keep me safe? Actually, no. There would still be rejections and breakups, and even more failed business attempts because I was playing small.
Besides discovering how my own personal fears were holding me back and causing even more pain, one of the most freeing realizations I had was this: “Everyone is carrying fear and most-likely, fear me as much as I fear them.” Keep in mind that “fear” does not only equate to physical violence; there can be fear of inadequacy, fear of ridicule, fear of potentially looking stupid, etc. And this is where vulnerability comes, especially in partnership.
We tend to want to hide our “worst traits” from our partners. We struggle to keep insecurities under wraps, we pretend that things don’t phase us or trigger our pain and we really don’t even want them to know we have pain because that would make us weak. The reality is that we all have things we are insecure about and we all have things that trigger us and result in pain. When we are not open about these things, the pain gets funneled into resentment, anger, pulling away and, ultimately, a breakdown in the relationship.
One of the most powerful things you can do for your partner is to open the space for them to share all of their hurts and triggers, as well as their desires and turn-ons. The other powerful thing you can do is to share yours. This is how we really achieve a deep connection. When we get that we aren’t alone in our experiences, and it can feel even more lonely with a partner when you are trying to hide, we get to be with each other and truly have love present. Some of the most meaningful and beautiful moments I have had in my relationships have occurred when I got to just let everything out. Especially when my partner heard me, understood me and told me it was okay.
What is something you have been holding back sharing with your partner because you were afraid, didn’t want to be judged or didn’t want to burden them with? Go share that with them, connect and take your relationship to a new level of intimacy.
The Masters of Self
-this article originally appeared on www.TheGoodMenProject.com