On Instagram, I sometimes ask my followers to submit questions about my perspectives on various topics, including travel and dating. One of the latest “fan” questions — “What’s the right level of masculinity in your eyes?” — stumped me at first. My answer (which I am expanding on here), is a gentleman, who’s self-assured, stalwart — but open and vulnerable — and wears his vulnerabilities with confidence.
I’m a big advocate for being vulnerable, which is scary for many people, myself included. But, it is essential: to make a real connection, to be understood, accepted, to endear yourself… you need to reveal yourself. Thoughts, feelings, desires, flaws. Sure, doing so exposes a person to potential hurt or rejection. But it’s always far better to be embraced, accepted (or rejected!) for WHO YOU ARE vs. a false persona or a shell of yourself. Can we agree thus far?
Let me throw a wrench into the mix. Specifically, by vulnerability, I don’t mean insecurity. And I believe there are many people out there confusing insecurity with vulnerability. While a vulnerability and an insecurity can involve the same subject, IE) achievements, status, or perceptions of such, appearance, beliefs or worldview, marital/relationship history, relationship expectations, and age, to name a few — the difference is in how you approach it and where you lay the burden.
Insecurity kills attraction, but vulnerability builds it
A while ago, I went out with a guy whom I had been acquainted with for a year or so. Our first time out together was pretty laid back and we voiced our mutual interest in seeing where things could go between us. We made plans for an actual date, and he kissed me. (So far, so good.) But later in the conversation, he said, as if he just couldn’t believe his fortune, “Are you sure I’m tall enough for you?”
Ugh. Not good; because what this really meant was, “I never thought you’d be attracted to me, and my height is something I’m insecure about.” 🤢
His offhand comment did several things in that moment:
- Shone a spotlight on his height/appearance, something that hadn’t even crossed my mind (until then)
- Revealed his negative feelings about his height and (self-perceived) level of attractiveness
- And hey, we all have insecurities… but by voicing it out loud, he indicated a need for immediate validation and affirmation from ME
He gave his insecurity, his burden, to me to carry. (I mean, what does one even say to that: “Umm… sure you are?!”) It immediately planted a seed in my mind that if we dated, I’d have to soothe and coddle him until the end of time: “Honey, you ARE tall enough! You ARE manly enough! You ARE ___!”
And guys, like these things often are, that was just one of several. We spent a little more time together and he revealed more insecurities — of which I had no interest in appeasing so early in the dating process.
Let’s go back just a moment, rewrite history and replace “Are you sure I’m tall enough for you?” ➡ with ➡ “I may be only 5’10”, but Julie, keep wearing your kitten heels!” 💃
Here’s another real-life interaction to further make my point, this time from C. via a dating app:
“Hi Julie, I saw your profile and realized we should match. I’m tall, inquisitive and cheeky, and you are beautiful” … and then… “Oh damn, read your profile again and I have a 6yo son. But, you should give it a chance. It’s kinda the deal: guys with their heads on straight in their 30s are likely to have a kid. I’m on top of my shit and that ex drama is way in the past. And my son has a mom, doesn’t need another one.” 👏👏👏 Nailed it.
Guess what? C. and I went out a couple times. It didn’t work out, but I loved his outlook; C. owned his fatherhood situation and had no insecurities about it. (In case it wasn’t obvious, my dating app profile notes my preference for childless suitors.)
Hey, I’ve got cellulite on the back of my legs, and my perfect weight would be minus 5 pounds from now. But I work out, dabble in intermittent fasting, work the best angles in my photos, still order the nachos when I feel like them, and buy the size 4-6 instead of the size 0-2 — and I assume, that if a guy is with me, he likes what I look like, and I don’t need to fish for compliments and validation. My appearance, age, status, and achievements do not define me. I try not to attach feelings, ask for validation, or play the victim; I own it all and take action when it’s required.
Moral of my story: I encourage you to acknowledge your flaws and imperfections, open up, and share them with the object of your affection… but try not to come at them like a Debbie Downer. Be comfortable in your vulnerabilities — frame them up confidently and have a plan to make your situation as good as it can possibly be. That’s attractive.
Says Matthew Hussey, one of my favorite YouTubers: “Your insecurity is only endearing when it doesn’t define you.”
Let me know what you think of this topic! Leave a comment below, or send me a DM on Instagram at instagram.com/juliebrose.