The Vulnerability of Men

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by Robyn Jones – B.Sc. (Psych), NSW, Australia

Vulnerability is not a common word used to describe men, is it? I wonder why this is, because we have all witnessed at one time or another the moment a man drops all the armour, hardness, striving, and pushing through life to allow themselves to simply be vulnerable, showing their soft underbelly, melting everyone in their wake.

It happens when a man becomes a father and holds their newborn for the first time, tears delicately rolling slowly and gracefully down their face as they stare into the eyes of their child. It happens when a man opens himself up to possible rejection when asking someone on a date. I have seen it when men are sick and physically have to stop to recoup.

I have also experienced it in a very subtle and not so obvious way. For example today I have been sick, my nose has been running, I have had a headache most of the day, and I spent the morning on the lounge and the afternoon in bed, which is not my usual style. My husband offered to run me a bath. He set up candles, incense, and put Epsom salts in the water. He prepared my pyjamas, made sure I had my towel, and put an extra towel out for me to rest my head on. There was a beautiful vulnerability to the whole process, him dropping all the usual ways of being, getting things done, and any expectations he may usually have of me. It felt so lovely… He felt so lovely as he was attending to every detail.

I love it when men are like this because it gives me permission to become equally vulnerable and unprotected. I can drop my armour and hardness, and melt into being taken care of.

But this hasn’t always been the case…

When my husband and I first started going out he wanted to take me to nice restaurants, cook me dinner, and share his vulnerable and caring nature with me. However, I couldn’t let him do this. I had become so hard and protected it made me feel super uncomfortable, as I did not feel I was worth it. Most of the time I would end up in a panic attack just from the thought of it.

This obviously had an effect on my husband as I was rejecting his vulnerability and offer of care, so he stopped, and I could breathe once again as I was not made super uncomfortable by it any more.

What a sad state of affairs though! A man willing to share his soft underbelly and a woman who couldn’t accept it.

I am pleased to say that over the years I have let go of an immense amount of hardness and protection, and am now showing my vulnerability little bit by little bit. So tonight when my husband did all that he did for me with the level of vulnerability and care that he did it in, I wholeheartedly accepted it. I said a big fat YES. And as I say more yeses to my own vulnerability I am able to say more yeses to his. This is allowing us both to drop back into our natural state of being, connecting with each other more deeply, and supporting us to let go of the hurts from our past – the rejection, need to control, and keeping each other at a distance (even if it didn’t look like this on the surface).

This makes me wonder about the healing power both men and women have with each other, because both genders have the natural capacity for vulnerability.

Imagine if we all lived this more often, would the world be a different place? Would there be the disconnection that is so prevalent nowadays, where most of us don’t even know our neighbours, or even our own children, let alone ourselves? Would there be such a high suicide rate for men?

A man who wears his vulnerability openly and honestly is super sexy and someone I want to hang out with, because this is what a real man is. This is what makes me melt and turn to goo, and I am sure I’m not alone in this.

Published with the permission of my husband

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16 thoughts on “The Vulnerability of Men

  1. What you share is very beautiful Robyn. It’s so interesting to bring to light more understanding of the word ‘vulnerability’ when we have such a skewed and negative relationship with it. Personally, I feel how much I have waited for others to show me that it’s going to be safe before I consider letting my guard down and allow myself to show my vulnerability. In doing this we are closing ourselves down to feeling the beauty that is there inside which is innate in all of us.

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    1. This is so true Heather, we all miss out when we don’t allow ourselves to at least explore vulnerability. It has taken me many years to feel vulnerable and accept this in another without freaking out! And what I now feel is vulnerability is a beautiful and unending quality that deserves to be lived because what happens within us and to those around us is priceless. It offers a way to be with each other that is unguarded, more free, and is in fact very safe because we are just being ourselves and nothing and no one can take that away – ever.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, absolutely, the biggest obstacle I reckon is ourselves and letting go of the gripping fear we allow to dominate and play out in all of our relationships, which then gets in the way of how we relate to each other and stops us from feeling the joy of being intimate and vulnerable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What if we all said a big fat “YES” all the time? What an amazing world we would live in, No guards or defences, hiding or protection. The deliciousness of that feels extraordinary.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Vulnerability Is a word that has been so bastarderised. What I’ve come to realise is ,that the true meaning of vulnerability, has strength, power not weakness .It’s about being open and letting another see us and what we truly feel, which gives the other person the opportunity to feel they too can show their true feelings as well…………which is gorgeous to feel……….true communication with each other.

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  4. It funny and sad at the same time that there is all these pictures and ideals /beliefs about how men are supposed to be and act in life . Their vulnerablibilty and tenderness was there from the beginning , fact – and it is only the false ideals and the other forms of protection that get in the way .I hear so many woman now saying how much they are attracted to and turned on by men living in their essence , really just being themselves without the layers ,or props or trying to hard tough etc .

    Liked by 3 people

  5. When I read the blog and all the comments I realize how much effort it is, to try to be someone else all the time, instead of just being me. But I have a clue, why am I avoiding to live my vulnerability.
    Many years ago I was in a partnership and there was a moment I felt very vulnerable. Unfortunately there was an argument between the two of us and my perception was, that in my unprotected state my partner was sensing this and was having a go at me, kind of using the situation to say – now I’m holding the upper hand.
    To hold the upper hand is normally very important for men – that is often for them the false foundation of “I’m powerful, I have everything under control”. I don’t express this experience as a victim, it was my responsibility to stay in my vulnerability, nor do I want to blame my previous partner for anything – but what I realize at the moment is, how quickly this false game of who is stronger, can creep into a partnership and both are very far away from love. So it looks like that – the more we feel safe, the more we can allow our vulnerability. But this can’t be true as well, because then we would make our behaviour, inner state dependent on the behaviour of other people, which can’t be the answer as well. So my final conclusion at the moment is – it comes back to the connection to myself, can I accept ALL of me or do I still want to hide anything of me, because I feel embarrassed about something. When I have this strong foundation with myself, then it doesn’t matter any more, what happens outside of myself.

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    1. It’s interesting, as I read your comment Alexander I realised the times where I have felt vulnerable and have had someone come at me were all times I was being offered the opportunity to realise that no matter what comes at me I am OK in who I am – my inner core never gets touched, it is always in tact – it is simply me leaving it that allows me to get hurt and close up again. To stand in our vulnerability, showing all of who we are in our hearts is strong, and so needed in order for us to realise that there is nothing that can touch us, so we eventually choose not to shut down again – not ever again – allowing ourselves to feel we are safe in any circumstance. This is powerful, very powerful, and in this we blossom and expand.

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  6. What a beautiful blog and honest and open discussion too! I agree, true vulnerability is very awesome to be around. Yes, I can also relate to being hard in the past, hiding my vulnerability at all costs, thinking it’s a sign of weakness, and to keep up the illusionary protection. Being guarded didn’t protect me from any harm really; it just stopped me being open and intimate with a variety of people in my life. And everybody loses out. It’s an ongoing work in progress, to allow more and more vulnerability and dropping more and more of the many forms of protection; protection keeps everyone and ourselves at arms length; what a waste of time really.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great article Robyn. We as men have to talk about our tenderness, show our intimacy, our vulnerability and express true appreciation towards each other and discover that is where our true power is found.
    I practice this with men and it feels absolutely lovely. Baby steps, yes but making progress.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reading this is lovely and shares the beauty of vulnerability, offering an invitation to try it out for myself, feeling and showing my vulnerability with another which then offers them the invitation and possibility of choosing the same. What a wonderful ripple affect

    Like

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