We're all troubled in some way. Nobody on this earth is perfect. We all have skeletons in the closet, dirty laundry to air out and baggage we carry with us on an everyday basis. That's part of life. That's what happens when the world keeps on hitting as you get older.
But some of us have been hit harder and more often than others. We keep getting beaten, bruised and bloodied, but we get up for more each time. But it changes us. With every fall, it breaks us down a little more and makes it just a little harder to keep moving forward.
We become jaded, bitter, scarred and calloused, all while still remaining vulnerable to at least some degree. We may grow a thicker skin, but we still believe in opening up, at least at the core.
It's a little different for women, I think. Society expects women to show a little more emotion and is more accepting of it. But when you feel like you're a man who's been completely broken down, you sure as sh*t don't want the world to know.
You don't want to be a recluse either, putting a permanent ass imprint on your couch and having your most important conversation of the day with the guy who delivers your pizza. You still need to get out there, meet people and, yes, date again.
That's where it gets a little tricky. You feel like you're damaged goods, but you still want to be loved like you're not. It's hard to imagine someone seeing any beauty in such vast imperfections, right?
Still, we trudge on and try to find something worthwhile and someone to love us the way we want to love them. We know there are women who are capable of handling and eventually fixing a broken man. The problem is with us. We have serious trouble letting someone else in again. But if we want to have any chance at love, we're going to have to try.
Speaking from true experience, here are three things we can do as men to let ourselves be vulnerable once again.
1. Be aware and be open about your fragility.
That's not to say that you need to spill your heart on the first date by telling the poor girl every tragic thing that's happened to you. I'm simply saying that once you establish a foundation and start to sense a legitimate relationship, you need to be honest and self-aware.
Don't try that machismo bullsh*t. Let her know you might be oversensitive to some things. Let her know if you may need extra reassurance or a little more understanding than most. There's nothing that is truly more appealing to a woman (based on what I'm told, at least) than a guy who isn't afraid to be open, who understands himself and who's willing to let her in.
It won't be easy, but it's necessary. As men, we're instructed from a young age to show how strong we are, but it's just as important to show vulnerability. Find the balance.
2. If she's willing to listen, you need to talk.
I know that most of us are not strangers to bottling things up. Here's the thing, that bottle has to open eventually. It's not big enough for everything, and life is going to hurt sometimes.
How many times have you wished you had someone to talk to, maybe on the lonely nights as you dwell on the past and the problems? If she cares about you, she'll want to know what you've bottled up. Even if it's a ton of personal tragedies that hurt to speak on, bad enough that it makes your existence seem like a bad Lifetime movie, she needs to know what makes you who you are. She needs to know what defines you. More importantly, let her know what you're trying to not let define you.
Not only will it be therapeutic for you, it'll give her a chance to know what would hurt you the most, and you can bet your ass she'll be careful to not do these things to you. If she truly cares, let her prove that someone can love you properly. It's not fair to keep it all inside. Don't make her walk on eggshells.
3. Embrace her problems, too.
Yeah, you might feel broken, but I guarantee that her life hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows. Ask her and let her tell you about what she's been through. Let your pain merge together. You might be surprised. Even if the circumstances were vastly different, there might be the same underlying issue (trust, insecurity, fear of betrayal, etc). You'll gain a better understanding of her and maybe, just maybe, you'll start to feel better knowing this person has felt what you have. Let her inner-demons play with yours, and take it all on together.
There's no clear-cut solution. It's navigating tricky waters, certainly, but so is much of life. You've been hurt, but you're still here, aren't you? Maybe you're stronger than you think. Maybe all the pain has built character. Maybe that's why you're still moving forward despite it all. Maybe, deep down, you do realize your worth.
One of the hardest things to do is to be so full of heartache yet still make yourself open to more hurt. To let yourself be loved, to love back and to open yourself up completely is terrifying. If you can allow yourself to be vulnerable and you find someone who can make you better, take a f*cking risk. You can be scared. Still, it might be the most rewarding thing you'll ever do.