By Mark Manson
A misunderstanding about vulnerability has been popping up a lot and I want to clear it up. In Models, I introduced the concept of vulnerability as being the antidote to neediness, and therefore the foundation of all attractive behavior. But a lot of readers aren’t completely grasping the concept in the way I frame it and are afraid that it’s going to drive women away.
From pages 55-56:
'I want you to think of vulnerability in a more broad way. Not just emotional vulnerability (although we’ll get to that), but physical vulnerability, social vulnerability.
For instance, making yourself vulnerable doesn’t just mean being willing to share your fears or insecurities. It can mean putting yourself in a position where you can be rejected, saying a joke that may not be funny, asserting an opinion that may offend others, joining a table of people you don’t know, telling a woman that you like her and want to date her. All of these things require you to stick your neck out on the line emotionally in some way. You’re making yourself vulnerable when you do them.
In this way, vulnerability represents a form of power, a deep and subtle form of power. A man who’s able to make himself vulnerable is saying to the world, “I don’t care what you think of me; this is who I am, and I refuse to be anyone else.”'
For some reason, a lot of guys are misinterpreting this as a recommendation to go out and spill their guts and gush about all of their problems to every girl they meet. This is pretty much the polar opposite of what I’m recommending.
When I say “be vulnerable,” I mean be undefended, don’t censor yourself, don’t alter yourself. It’s not a behavioral prescription. I’m not telling you to go out and DO something. I’m telling you to BE something. I don’t mean share every problem you have, admit to every mistake you ever made or look for sympathy for everything — this would make you, on the contrary, very needy and unattractive. What I mean is be comfortable and willing to do those things, but not feeling a need to.
The idea is that if an occasion arises where you feel inspired to share something about yourself, or if you feel impelled to take a certain action, that you don’t hold back. Some examples off the top of my head:
To his surprise, most of the women were helpful. In fact, some of them suddenly became interested in him. He was now a real person, a real person putting himself out there and unafraid of the consequences, an honest and genuine guy who wanted to meet a girl. Whereas before, with his “opener” and his line, to her he was another horny bar guy trying to get into her pants. This act of authenticity actually attracted them to him, although he had no idea why at the time.
The best way I can think to describe vulnerability is to ask yourself how much you’re censoring yourself and censoring your emotions. If it’s a lot, then that’s a problem. Ask yourself how much you’re basing your words and actions on what you think she wants to hear, rather than on what you want to say. If it’s a lot, then that’s a problem.
Vulnerability is not a conversational tool or technique, it’s a mindset. It’s your relationship and comfort with your own emotions. And until you get out of the mindset of tactics and conversational tools, you’re going to continue to be lost.
I think guys who mistake vulnerability for sharing way too much information are guys who are still looking at it as a surface tactic, as a conversational tool. Guys who feel like it’s going to drive women away are not using it honestly, but are using it as just another replacement for their behavior. This is the exact opposite of vulnerability, and yes, it is unattractive.