Do men need to be vulnerable? | Michele Willmott

Do men need to be vulnerable?

Do men need to be vulnerable in their relationships?

Unfortunately there are many unhealthy expectations when it comes to the topic of men and vulnerability.
There is also much unhelpful advice, albeit unintentional, regarding what vulnerability should look like.

Should a man express his innermost feelings to his partner?
Should he express in the same way as a woman, so that everything is 'equal'?

Surely a man should be able to say how he feels?

Especially as men have historically received limiting messages telling them to 'man up!' or 'grown men don't cry'.

The repression and suppression of feelings and emotions is never usually a good thing.
We don't want men to think they cannot express themselves and be human.

Many of my male clients come to me feeling pressure to show their feelings or express them in a certain way.
They are confused about the different messages they receive.
Often they end up thinking they are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

I can see why they think this is the case.
For example: their partner might say something like 'I wish you would tell me how you feel.'
They then try to open up despite their discomfort and this is what often happens:
They do not receive any compassion, understanding or a listening ear.
Instead they find themselves on the receiving end of their partner trying to fix or train them.

This is not very conducive to opening up and sharing your feelings!
Women don't like being fixed and men don't either.

So, what's the answer?

We need to look beyond what's right, wrong or what we even think is best.
We need to get very curious.

Men who I work with often think they 'should' be being vulnerable and that it looks a certain way.
Their thinking then creates resistance in them.
This resistance then gets acted out in the relationship in a way that is not helpful.
All because that resistance is not being dealt with.

This is exactly where to look.
At one's own relationship with the resistance and the feelings and sensations in the body that come with it.

There is a gift within that resistance.
This is where men don't realise they are actually onto something.

They are sensing something feels off and it is.
They just need to trust it.

This is not a reason to just dismiss the idea of being vulnerable or of getting in touch with your feelings.
What it does mean is, you get to express yourself in a way that feels right to you.

In a way that doesn't put you in a place that feels disempowering but rather helps create connection and intimacy in the relationship.

The truth about how to be vulnerable.

The truth therefore is there is no right way to be vulnerable.

You do not have to do 'vulnerability' it in a way that feels 'off' or contrived to you.
You certainly do not need to express yourself in the way your female partner does.

Often vulnerability is not even needed because it can certainly be spoken from an energy of weakness.
I am not saying that vulnerability is a sign of weakness just that the words we use, the tone are all crucial.

Ultimately vulnerability can be a powerful way to create connection or it can create disconnection.

Transparency can be far more useful.

This is all highly nuanced however and dependent on the situation.

Be vulnerable with yourself first.

One of the best things a man (and a woman) can do for his relationship is be willing to be vulnerable with himself.

This involves learning how to work WITH your feelings and sabotaging thoughts in a way that helps you connect more deeply with yourself.

When you are more connected with you it is far easier to create connection with your partner.

As a man, you don't have to pour your heart out to your partner if you don't want to.
I have seen many a woman recoil or get anxious when a man does this.
It usually happens because he has defaulted into the less empowered energy I mention above.
He has then left himself open to judgement.

A real life example of vulnerability in a man.

A few weeks ago my husband and I had to say goodbye to our little miniature schnauzer of 15 years.
She has been a massive part of our family and our child substitute in many ways.
The last year has been difficult as her health was slowly declining.
We knew it was coming but we weren't quite prepared for the loss of her everyday presence.

During this time my husband was not been afraid to show his emotional vulnerability.
In many ways he didn't have a choice. His more emotional side came up quite naturally.

The battle he had to face in himself was more his own resistance to those emotions.
His conditioned selves were always going to be concerned about being 'soft' or too 'emotional'..
However, he knows enough about self compassion to not let such conditioned messages get him down.

For me I knew he had his own back so there was no need to rescue him.
The old me would have jumped at the chance to try and fix him. 

Thankfully it was a very bonding time for us both in many ways.

The bottom line is:
1. There is always a way to do you, in a way that feels right and in integrity with who you want to be for yourself and others.  
2. You get to decide who you are and what that looks and sounds like. Your resistance to showing up fully will be because a part of you thinks you need to do things a certain way. This is not true. As long as you are committed to showing up with as much integrity as possible you cannot go wrong.
It's when you get stuck in repression or suppression that your relationship suffers.
3. You are allowed to get things 'wrong' because there is only learning. Life can be sad and messy, at times of grief especially. To be able to process your feelings with self compassion is a gift for you and your relationship.

To be able to express yourself to your partner and feel safe to do that is an even bigger gift on both accounts.

There is much room for both men and women to take a closer look at themselves.
This process can be highly liberating and transformative. 
It will absolutely bring you closer to you.

I thank myself (and my husband) every day for doing this work. 
It has made our life together so much more harmonious, loving, fun and fulfilling.

I hope you will consider giving yourself and your relationship the chance it deserves.

There is a far greater experience waiting for you if you are willing to take the chance on yourself.
If you would like to book a call with me to discuss your next steps please find my booking schedule here.

About the Author

Michele Willmott, Relationship Coach and Mentor. I help successful men, women and couples renew and transform their relationship for the long-term.