Originally published in Elephant Journal.
As a relationship coach, I have noticed the strong impact of vulnerability on sexual attraction. And as a real person who dates, I have seen the undeniable effects of vulnerability in my own life. Which is why I want to share the concept with you.
Everyone is relationship challenged
Even relationship coaches can have relationship challenges. Our challenges, or what I call “relationship setbacks,” make us wise and understanding coaches. We know how hard it is to find love.
Because we’ve been there and experienced ups and downs in the journey to love, we understand the pain and pleasure that come from being in love, getting hurt, and gathering the courage to be open to love again. This, coupled with coaching others (pun fully intended), makes relationship coaches purposeful experts as well as accidental learners of what works. We get what breaks down love affairs and what builds up and strengthens a relationship.
Our baggage holds us back
We are all human with our own individual and varied hang-ups, predisposed views, and relationship histories. Sometimes we learn from our relationship mistakes and sometimes we don’t. From my personal life and my experience in coaching others, I have learned this important lesson: when you pay attention and proactively decide you want to do better in your dating life, you can do a 180 fairly quickly. We are all worthy of love and love is ours for the taking if we are open to learning and growing.
Here is an important lesson I learned about the most underestimated turn-on in a relationship; be vulnerable. This seems counterintuitive, but I promise you it actually works. Using this approach will not only empower you in your relationships, but will make you incredibly appealing.
You may think how you look, your life successes, and what you do are the main attractions. Such aspects of your appeal matter to some degree, but your vulnerability is even sexier.
Being vulnerable with someone you are dating can help to get things out in the open quickly. This is essential when you’re looking for love. Remember how your mom would say you have to be a friend to have a friend? Love is like that too. Like friendship, love doesn’t blossom overnight. It takes time. It has to be fostered, protected, and survive serious hiccups to become something real. In other words, you have to get love to receive love. And one of the easiest ways to do that is by showing vulnerability. This means revealing your true self.
When you really want someone, you can blindly jump in. Your actions are based on feelings. You try to present your best self, act overly accommodating, and behave in a way that is more true to the other person rather than yourself. This isn’t vulnerability. This isn’t being real. This is more about expression of feelings and giving in to those feelings. Just jumping in, eyes closed, is the fastest way to relationship failure.
Here is what I’ve observed: vulnerability works better. Like any good relationship coach, I’ve tried it out personally—with a great deal of success.
Be vulnerable and real. Be honest even if it feels uncomfortable. The person you are meant to be with will get it and they will get you. This will be a turn-on, not a turn-off. So much of the available dating advice advises us to be measured, not to share much, to be a mystery. Sometimes a bit of mystique can be an initial turn-on, but if you fail to get to know the person for who they really are, the mystery becomes a turn-off.
It is unwise to not express or be authentic because you believe your date cannot handle it. It is essential to get out the uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, fears and apprehensions. And to do this almost immediately. Being open will dispel illusions and cut through the bs. And the surprising truth is, this can be seductive. Vulnerability is an aphrodisiac. Mr. or Ms. Right will be the the woman or man left standing. This person will give you a clear indication that they are “all in.” The ones who don’t? You have effectively weeded out the dates who wouldn’t be good for you anyway.
Here is how I know: I’ve practiced this myself and encourage my clients to do the same. It feels weird at first and seriously uncomfortable. Then it feels felt incredibly freeing to just say what we mean and get the uncomfortable out of the way. And it helps me and my clients to recalibrate our relationships, creating a “safe-zone,” a haven where we can be expressive and loving, and bond in a totally different way with our partners.
Vulnerability has created some of the best connections and relationships I have had in my life. My clients tell me it is the same for them.
Fear of abandonment comes from being abandoned by people who traumatized you when they abandoned you (i.e., ex-spouse, parent, loved one, etc.). If you are hesitant to tell this to a suitor out of fear they will run, you will miss out on the chance to share your vulnerability. You might then realize you should be more concerned about feeling they won’t be there versus sharing something that is part of who you are as an individual.
If you are afraid to express what you need most to feel secure in a relationship or to share your long-term relationship goals, pause and reflect. Think about what you want and need in order to have a successful relationship, then express that freely. Don’t attach expectations to your expressions. Just let the other person know up front where you’re coming from. Make your intentions clear.
They will either step up or step out.
Vulnerability isn’t black and white – it’s gray
Like anything else, vulnerability can be taken to an extreme. I’m not encouraging you to walk down the street expressing your deepest feelings to everyone you see. Nor am I suggesting that you spend a first date spilling everything about you. That wouldn’t be prudent.
However, when you feel like you are in a safe place with someone you’re interested in, test out the concept of vulnerability. Try expressing some of your real feelings and see what happens. By being emotionally open, you will get closer to the person who is most compatible with you. And your open, honest, sexy vulnerability will make you more appealing to the one who is most deserving of you.
Share Your Comments Below and remember you are capable of receiving love. There is a relationship that will work for you. Sometimes all you need is a nudge in the right direction. If you are struggling with your current relationship, newly divorced and looking to get back in the dating scene, or single and trying to find the right person for you, maybe I can help. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up on my website to receive dating tips and relationship advice. For fast advice, read my book Love you and He Will Too: The Smart Woman’s Roadmap for Happy, Healthy Relationships.