Without a doubt, vulnerability must exist within any healthy and successful romantic relationship. To have that deep connection that we all inherently crave, we need to let people see every little bit of us, even the parts we’re not proud of. How can someone love all of you if they don’t know all of you?
It can take a long time to build the kind of trust with a partner that welcomes deep vulnerability and sharing of oneself. The more comfortable you are with someone, the easier it is to communicate authentically, allowing your true self to be seen.
With that said, vulnerability and authentic communication shouldn’t only have a place in long term relationships. They need a place in the early dating stages too. They just show up differently there.
When we first start talking to new romantic prospects, we tend to be on our best behavior, hiding our quirks and “stuff” so they only see our perfection. We don’t want to say anything that they may find weird. We try to avoid any kind of conflict or disagreement so as not to seem “crazy.”
We sometimes even hide the fact that we’re looking for a relationship in case they aren’t (god forbid we want more than just some drinks and a hump!). By presenting this facade, we’re not being honest about who we are and what we want, and that’s not a great way to start a relationship of any kind.
Now, I’m not saying to air all your dirty laundry within days of talking to or meeting someone; that comes with trust and time, as I mentioned earlier. But a solid foundation of honesty should be in place if you’re really trying to assess if this person is one you want to spend your life with. And with honesty comes (dun, dun, dunnnn): vulnerability.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is courageous, especially when it’s with someone new. Exposing your true feelings and thoughts is often difficult because you’re at risk of being judged by the other person, and when you’re sharing personal things, the last thing you want is to be judged negatively and made to feel “less than.”
So how can vulnerable, authentic communication show up in the early dating stages and how can it help you eliminate people who aren’t a good fit for you?
Any time you’re honest about who you are, what you want out of the relationship, your beliefs, etc., you’re giving yourself the opportunity to see how receptive the other person is to what you’re presenting to them.
And that shit can make or break everything for you.
I recently brought up a topic that I feel strongly about with a guy I’ve been talking to for some time now and he said something I completely wasn’t okay with. I spoke up about how it was a sensitive topic for me. It was a total make or break situation because if his statements were his actual views then I didn’t think we could be compatible.
He apologized for being insensitive to my feelings and we eventually had a deeper conversation about everything so we understood each other’s point of view. It actually brought us closer together instead of breaking us apart.
Had he not been receptive to my feelings, not tried to understand them and why I was so upset by what he said, and instead tried to immaturely say I was “crazy” for reacting the way I did, I would have known that he wasn’t someone I could be in a relationship with.
Had I not even spoken up at all about how upset I was, it could have caused a whole slew of other issues. I would have harbored resentment and anger and not felt safe emotionally with him, and that wouldn’t be healthy. Thankfully, I felt comfortable sharing my feelings, another sign that he could potentially be a good partner for me.
A great way to assess if someone is a good match for you is by being open about your values and opinions from the get-go, even the major ones.
It’s always been a rule of thumb to avoid talking about important topics such as religion and politics when you first meet someone, but I disagree. If something is important to you and a potential partner’s opposing view is a deal breaker, shouldn’t you know that sooner rather than later? Why waste your time learning about their favorite foods and crazy Uncle Sal only to be let down when you finally find out that they’re conservative and you’re a die-hard liberal?
I’m not saying that these need to be in your opening Tinder line but, when you’re looking for a substantial, committed relationship, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you wait too long to bring these topics up or lie about how you really feel about them.
Bottom line: Be honest about who you are and say what you feel, even if it’s a little uncomfortable.
You’ll quickly be able to see who you vibe with, who you can trust with your emotions, and who is on the same page as you in terms of important values. No point in wasting your precious time on incompatible peeps.