Why are so many people scared to show their true selves? Why do they avoid commitment? And what does this mean for relationships and dating?
In a world of high competition and perfectionism, vulnerability is not necessarily something highly valued among people. For many, being vulnerable is hard to accept and acknowledge in themselves. People try to hide their flaws and only see the negatives in vulnerability. That they might get hurt. That they might be rejected.
However, the ability to be vulnerable with someone is beautiful. Vulnerability is intimacy. Being vulnerable with your partner is what makes you feel at home in their arms. Therefore, if you put in the work to build trust with your partner and feel comfortable being vulnerable with them, you will for sure benefit from it.
But, how can we get to the point where you or your partner will be willing to open up, to be yourself/themself? Dating or being in a relationship can be hard and frustrating sometimes. In dating, failing to find someone who is in it for the long run and not just for the short-term fun can be straining for our mental health and well-being.
In romantic relationships, some people don’t feel comfortable to put down their mask that is hiding their true self. People are acting and pretending, and frequently stressed out because of not being able to be themselves, not being able to stop performing to unrealistic expectations. In romantic relationships, some people don't feel comfortable to put down the mask that is hiding their true self. The good news is: You can work on that. Click To Tweet
In the dating process, it is totally fair to protect oneself from being hurt by hiding the vulnerable parts in the beginning. However, some people have been hurt so much that they shut down and suffer from loneliness, long for connection and wish to find a significant other, but are scared or lost trust in people.
You’re not safe from experiencing those feelings in a relationship either. Couples have to put in some effort to have a strong connection, to feel close to each other. This can be done by dealing with issues that might be underneath, buried in the subconscious mind. The good news is, you can work on that. You can break down the barriers that might hinder you from finding the right partner for you or being truly happy and yourself with your current partner.
What you need to know about rejection.
Everyone experiences rejection at some point of their lives. Rejection comes in all forms and is just as important as approval. You might reject invitations or other offers every day without thinking about it for a long time. You might have been rejected by your parents or friends at some point in your life. Romantic partners might have rejected you.
Feelings that arise from rejection can go from indifference to being hurt a lot. Generally, the more you are emotionally attached to someone, the more it hurts your inner self, your heart, your ego when this person rejects you.
As a result, you might fall into patterns of negative self-talk, rejecting yourself, beliefs that you’re not good enough or self-blame. Rejection directly attacks what people always try to protect: their ego, their sense of self-worth, their self-esteem, their pride.
Protection mechanisms can lead to reactions such as talking bad about the other person to make oneself feel better, to want the other person even more and put oneself in situations where the other one might take advantage of you, et cetera.
It can also lead to emotion-driven consumption. By the way, people’s fear of not being good enough is highly understood by marketing agents. Consumption makes us feel better for a short time. Starting a new, fancy diet might push the ego. Showing someone what they are missing is a common reaction too. However, it is not a healthy one if you base your self-worth and approval only on material things or looks.
This doesn’t mean that it isn’t important that you’re aware of your qualities. Far from it! It’s good if you know that what the other person rejected is something very valuable. What is less healthy is to see your own value in the weight you have, the clothes you wear or the car you drive.
All those things hide what you are scared to see. That you are vulnerable. That you have your issues. We all have our issues. And, yes, it hurts when people we like reject us.
Most of the time, people reject themselves for things about them where they think they are not good enough. The feeling or belief that other people see it too makes them wonder: Am I even worthy of love? Can anyone ever love me with these conditions?
Then, people get scared. They get anxious about it. They start hiding it.
Being rejected is hard. Rejecting everyone else to feel better is harder.
Another common belief system that protects people from their own pain is thinking that no one is good enough for them. If you think about yourself that you’re not good enough, it is easier to accept that no one is good enough, instead of thinking that everyone is good enough except for you.
Before someone else can reject you, you make sure to reject them first. This might seem to your subconscious as a smart strategy to prevent yourself from heartache, but it comes with a downside.
If you shut yourself down from any negative emotion and numb yourself from all the pain that you might experience in the future, you are also numbing all the joy and happiness that could fulfill you if you allowed yourself to. That’s why it is helpful to deal with these underlying issues.
It is important to know how to deal with rejection. Bad coping mechanisms might lead to subconscious barriers that you build to protect yourself from being hurt, but also from opening up to others, from experiencing the love another person can give to you.
Don’t get this wrong. It is important to be careful when you give yourself to someone. Learn more about this in the blogpost on “How to protect your heart the smart way.” Not everyone appreciates it when you show them your vulnerability. That’s not because they are bad people, maybe they just can’t relate to your experience and don’t care enough about you to try to understand your fears and troubles.
However, some people are creating self-fulfilling prophecies, making their negative voices inside their minds come true. Thinking about yourself that you are not worthy of love makes you behave in ways that people feel and notice how little you give a damn about yourself. That’s unattractive, and people will either take advantage of you or reject you.
This closes the circle, as your beliefs are verified. Then, your self-talk may sound like: “I’m not good enough for love. I knew it right away. Maybe I’m not pretty, not attractive enough. People would value me more if I lost weight.“
Sorry to say, that’s not what’s going to happen. Listen to your self-talk. Listen to what you think about yourself or about other people. This will tell you a lot about what you have to work on.
What commitment has to do with all of this.
Today, it feels like we are more scared to love than ever before. This is no surprise, as never before in history people were influenced by so much media, ads, et cetera. Also new technologies and new forms of dating increase the options and alternatives.
Tinder and other dating platforms are like high-competition markets. Very superficial ones, but that’s no news to any of you. However, all these points give more reasons for concern to be insecure about oneself today than ever before. If you ask now why commitment is important for you, it’s because of all those reasons and more.
Commitment opens room for vulnerability. Commitment is responsibility. When you are mature enough to commit to someone, you allow yourself and your significant other to be themselves. With commitment you’re saying that you’re open to learn about the other person, you stand by their side when they show you their lows.
The beautiful thing about commitment is, that when you make your partner feel safe with you, they start, step by step, removing the walls they’ve built to protect their heart and soul. They start to acknowledge that they are loveworthy, even for the parts of themselves that they saw as flawed and that they always tried to hide.
They show you their real self. They slowly, slowly, put down the mask of perfectionism, that made them feel safe when they tried to escape from the pain of feeling rejected. They start showing you their deepest lows, but also their highest highs.
That’s how you build a foundation for a long and happy relationship. Commitment, combined with the willingness to work on the relationship, combined with honest interest in your partner, with all the different shades of their personality, is a powerful tool to build the most beautiful, strongest bond in the world.
In the next post we’re going to elaborate further how to deal with feelings of rejection and how to use vulnerability in your relationship to feel more connected and secure with each other.