All relationships are unique. But if there is one thing they have in common, it’s probably the way they start out. It’s that lovely period when you’re falling in like and you know you can expect a good morning text each day and a unreasonably long conversation almost every night. It’s when things are fresh, new and exciting, and you haven’t gotten past the cloud of infatuation to see person beneath the surface. But as things become more serious, and you’re past the cloud, getting to know the real him and sharing the real you, you may feel
sense of vulnerability–which can be scary. But what if it’s not your own vulnerability you’re afraid of, what if it’s his?

Rewind to a few days ago. What started out as a casual chat on life and goals with a co-worker and friend of mine, soon veered off to a deeper discussion on the subject of men and relationships. As we shared our experiences, we found that we both had a common issue that came up at a certain point in budding relationships: we feel a tad uncomfortable or become slightly distant when we feel a man opening up and growing attached. As we pondered over the whys, we came to the realization that we were scared of seeing a man’s vulnerable side. It was as if there was this annoying mental block that seemed to render us incapable of fully embracing a man’s softer side.

We joked that we wished we could be like “normal” women and not feel like this, but here we were two young women from different backgrounds, family lives and upbringing, experiencing the same dilemma. It lead me to wonder, how many other women have experienced this? We often hear about how women struggle with letting their guard down in a relationship, but could it be that some of us struggle with allowing a man to let his guard down? Letting him openly share his insecurities, flaws, neediness and emotions. Yes it’s a key part of a healthy relationship, but it can be a challenging aspect for some of us.

As I thought over this more own my own, I realized that maybe this anxiety is due to the fact that seeing a man’s vulnerable side is a reality shock to the romanticized perception we have of a man in those early stages of a relationship; after we have “enjoyed the luxury of not knowing each other fo rreal” and we begin to truly learn the essence of the person. As women, many of us love when a man is always on his toes. We want a man who can make us feel safe and secure, so maybe somewhere in that desire some of us loose sight of the fact that men have insecurities too. And it makes it hard imagine a man expressing his fears, defeats or uncertainties; and exposing his weaknesses and entrusting you with the frailties of his heart and feelings.

Yet, I would never want a man to think I’m superwoman– flawless and invulnerable–so I can’t expect him to be that way either. I don’t what to fall in love with a fictitious perception of a man, and the reality is that a relationship can’t grow and thrive unless you both feel comfortable enough to share your feelings; even if it leaves you feeling or appearing bare. I’m striving and learning to accept and embrace this fact, and to put it into practice when the time comes. And while there may be unique circumstances that have shaped our individual struggles with this, if you have ever been weary of seeing your man’s vulnerable side, challenge yourself to work on it because love has no bias towards gender, it leaves us all open.

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