This one is for you, women.
Men, maybe you want to read this also so you will not let your fear speak so loudly. So we women can truly see you.
Vulnerability ahead, y’all.
Men fear feeling like a fool.
Whether this is men not knowing how to balance their bank accounts to not knowing how to fix a flat tire to not understanding you. When men really really really want to understand you. But because men fear feeling like a fool, they act like a jackass instead.
When they don’t want to.
Maybe it was an attempt at something romantic like giving you flowers but they wilted and dropped petals before you got them. Because he doesn’t know what a good florist is. An attempt was made but you probably would never know because this fool experience is too memorable for him to try again to give you flowers.
Maybe he just doesn’t know how to put his words together to tell you how he truly feels. To avoid feeling like that fool, he says empty words. The wrong words. The fear is very strong.
Women, we have no problem asking for help. We have no problem needing someone to hug us, and we have no problem asking for that. Men don’t text each other from dressing rooms asking for opinions on what clothes to buy. Men don’t call each other to talk through every detail of the date.
I know. There are women who do have a problem with this. They somehow believe to be a strong and independent woman means you don’t have to ask for help so you learn how to change a tire and you learn how to talk like men so the auto mechanic doesn’t rip you off. I know we are not the fairer gender or the lesser gender. I also know we have the confident strength to ask for help. To know our limitations and to have figured out that our strength comes from asking for help because that broadens us where we have limitations. This is the strong and independent woman. It reminds me of this parable I use with teens:
A young boy was walking with his father along a country road. When they came across a very large tree branch, the boy asked, “Do you think I could move that?” His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I’m sure you can.” The boy tried mightily to lift, pull, and push the branch, but he couldn’t budge it. Discouraged, he said, “Dad, you were wrong. I can’t do it.? His dad said, “Try again.”
This time, as the boy struggled with the task, his father joined him. Together they pushed the branch aside. “Son,” the father said, “the first time you didn’t use all your strength. You didn’t ask me to help.”
Like the boy in the parable, men falsely believe that to ask for help is to declare to the world that they are inept, weak, and a failure. It feeds into this fear that they are a fool. Fear lies.
Women, do you know what our deepest fear is? Abandonment. Abandonment says to us (and we think the world sees us this way) that I am not enough. Or I am too much. Or if he really knew me he would leave me so I’m contorting myself so I’m not left by this great guy. We want to be chosen.
On that first date (maybe the one past the coffee date) the guy is trying everything to not look like a fool. You are trying to not be abandoned. Or rejected.
That is a lot of fear swirling together. No wonder dating is vulnerable. No wonder dating is awkward.
This is yet another reason why I call dating brave dating. One of my favorite (and most-used) Dr. Brene’ Brown quotes is “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” Replace your very real fears with a little vanity. Because you are worthy of a good match. A failed date does not define you.
If you are a growing brave man and she thinks you are a fool, that is on her. If you are a growing brave woman and he thinks you are not his type, that is on him.
Do not let your defenses and your excuses keep you locked up in a small world. Bravely living vulnerable is a risk we all have to take if we want to be connected.To wait for that love for a lifetime will be a brave ride. Imagine the stories you will have to tell about that brave ride!
And remember this truth:
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