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The Struggle of Being Vulnerable

The Struggle of Being Vulnerable

Age 11 is the earliest time that I can remember being truly vulnerable. There was this girl I really liked in the 6th grade. When I asked her out she said, yes. Like any innocent kid with a crush, it meant the world to me up until the point where her friend told me, she was only pretending to be my girlfriend.

It's one of my clearest memories. I’m walking down the hallway from music class. Usually it was filled with voices and lockers banging. But I zoned out. Pretending? Her friends had to be lying. Why would a girl lie about something like that? To me? I hadn’t done anything to to deserve it.

I was too young and inexperienced to comprehend it. This wasn’t something I could imagine happening. Especially not with someone I had admired. I could hear my heart beating slow yet loudly as I got to my next period class. Language arts. It was still passing period. I had time to ask her. She confirmed it.

Then out of nowhere her friends circled around me laughing and singing, “You got played.”. I’m sure this only lasted a few seconds but thinking back it still feels like it lasted an incredibly long time. It went on until I ran out of the class, to the restroom and hid in the very last stall crying.

The Struggle of Being Vulnerable

That was the day I developed this habit of being extremely aloof around girls. Especially if I had a crush on them. Whenever I liked a girl, I would act as if she didn’t exist. I wouldn’t look in her direction or speak to her whenever I noticed she was around or knew we'd be in the same room. Even when I had friends tell a girl I liked her or showed her interests directly, I’d keep this wall of aloofness up. The wall didn’t come down until I for sure knew a woman is safe.

I didn’t get my first kiss until I was 18. I sorta blossomed sexually all at once. For some reason at 18 I started dating a lot, started having sex and got into my first few relationships. I taught myself how to temporarily let that wall down when I saw a girl I liked and once I met a few girls in a row it was easy to consistently meet women. But once I got into a relationship and it ended, it was hard for me to let that wall down and get back out there.

Between 18 and now (27) I’ve had this pattern. I’ll go months or a year without dating, then there will be a period where I’m consistently meeting women until I eventually get into a relationship. The relationships would last anywhere from a month to half a year , mainly due to me staying with a woman who’s only right for me physically, hoping she’ll become right for me later. Too afraid to end things so I could find a woman who's truly right for me.

The Struggle of Being Vulnerable

I’ve dated my fair share of women and I realize that what I experienced as a child holds me back a lot. It’s kept me from finding the right woman and it’s also made the process take longer. Ironically, I’ve never had a tough time getting a date. Almost every woman I’ve dated was a girl I initially thought wouldn’t be into me. This fear I’ve had has never manifested itself. Sure I’ve been through breakups but nothing as terrible as what happened in the 6th grade.

As an adult I understand how things we go through as children can affect us in adulthood if we aren’t taught healthy ways to cope with hurt. In my mind, if a girl doesn’t know I know she exist, then there’s no way she can hurt me. That’s why that wall is there. But that wall also keeps girls from knowing I like them or a the very least it will make them think I don’t like them. This is especially true for girls I’ve shown genuine interests in.

There’s this girl I’ve spoken to at the gym. We ended up talking about what she was passionate about and she told me about her graphic novel and I told her how impressive I thought it was. I know women get hit on often. But having a guy show genuine interest in something about a woman other than her looks and making her feel good about it? At the least it’s memorable. And since then, I walk right past this woman each time I see her as if the conversation never happened. She’s not the first girl I’ve done this to.

The Struggle of Being Vulnerable

I always assume people have their shit together but the reality is everyone is going through something. That woman might think she weirded me out or I think somethings wrong with her. I barely know her and I’m not the type to obsess over someone I’ve never been on a date with. But the other day it felt like she was watching me and I felt bad because the thought crossed my mind that I’ve might of hurt her feelings by acting like I didn’t know she was there.

I’ve known about my walls for a while and my self-improvement makes me reflect a lot. As I worked-out I wondered. How many amazing women have I missed out on because of this wall? Genuinely nice and catchy women. How many have I walked past without saying a word because of this fear? How many liked me at first but lost interests because I never spoke to them again? Well those days are over.

I’m working on it one day at a time now. Even if I look dumb for a little while. If I notice a woman I like, I let her know it. I understand why my wall was build and understand that I was a child when it happened. As a man, I can handle whatever is thrown my way. And also women are way more mature now. Like I said before I haven’t had a single traumatic experience with any girl since I was 11 and I don’t have a hard time getting a date. I have always been my biggest obstacle. And now I’m working on it.

The Struggle of Being Vulnerable

Thanks for reading. It was long. I thought I’d share this and inspire some people to let go of old pain. I know I’m not the only one. Share your stories if you have any similar ones!

The Struggle of Being Vulnerable
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Most Helpful Girl

  • Anonymous
    I’m sorry to hear you struggle to let go of your childhood trauma. Kids can be mean.
    But well done on taking the time to realise where the problem is coming from, before any self-improvement comes self-reflection. You’ve made the first step, you’re aware of what’s holding you back, now you only have to work on it. I know it’s easier said that done.
    I also love the part where you could feel her watching you and you wondered if you’ve made her feel bad because you pretended you don’t see her. This is so beautiful and pure but at the same time it sounds like this childhood drama has hurt you deeply to the point where you thought that you might’ve made her feel the way you felt back then. I think this realisation might’ve helped you to decide to take the step to improve and let a woman know you like her. The realisation that not only you might be missing on genuinely nice women but also hurting them, making them wonder why they weren’t enough and why you didn’t initiate another conversation since the previous went so well and so on. It’s like because you know how it feels to wonder what did you do to be treated that way, you feel bad when you might be the reason for somebody else feeling that way. I might be wrong.
    It’s really inspiring, thank you for sharing this. And excuse my assumption in the previous paragraph, I couldn’t help it, it was just something in the way you worded it.
    Is this still revelant?
    • Dongtai

      Damn I really like this response. You’re spot on and put a lot on my mind. I spend so much time trying “not” get hurt that I’ve never imagined someone perceiving my actions as hurtful. You’re right. That’s going to affect how interact with women. I definitely don’t and never meant to hurt anyone.

    • Anonymous

      I’m glad I could do that! I was worried it could come off as a therapist-like response lol
      Happy you find it thoughts-provoking and I hope you get to the point where you don’t let the trauma get in the way of pursuing women you like sooner than later.
      P. S I didn’t mean to make this anonymous, this app is glitchy as hell

    • Dongtai

      Are you someone I follow?

    • Show All

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • Have you ever considered finding that girl from sixth grade and telling her what a mean little bitch she was and how that hurt you? It might feel good to vent that.
    • Dongtai

      That sounds like a really bad idea 😂

    • Dongtai

      I feel like she’d just laugh and say something like “that was forever ago. Grow up!” I don’t think she’d actually listen

    • Dongtai

      But yeah. I’ve thought about it

    • Show All
  • 19magic
    I'm happy that your managing to work on it, I have no idea how to work on mine and I've known about it for years now. My problem is that anyone I like I seem to destory it in some way or another, aka when the going gets good I search to find the other shoe. And I also know its from my childhood that's caused me to have low confidence and not a lot self worth.

    Anyways I wish you luck on your journey and that you will meet a rainbow on the other side
    • Dongtai

      As I work on this, I find that recreating the moment before that trauma happened, and facing that uncertainty is how I slowly build a callous for it. Whenever I see a woman I’d like to meet it’s like I get sent back to that money.

      My initial reaction is to avoid that situation all together. So I ignore the girl and my desire to meet her. I play it cool and try my best to seem like I don’t notice her. But that’s just teaching my me to run and it makes me feel worse because I’m subconsciously telling myself I’m not worth loving.

      So now when I see a woman I want to meet, I’m working on going for it like I did back then and remind myself that I can handle rejection. Whenever the interaction go well (which is most of the time, as in she isn’t cruel or nasty) it’s teaching me that not all women will hurt me. And whenever a woman is rude or nasty, I try my best NOT to react and just walk away with class. That teaches me I CAN handle rejection and I’m too good for any woman who disrespects me just for saying hello.

    • 19magic

      That's a good way of thinking about it. I just can't think of any single thing that made me the way I am, I like to think I've improved and occasionally that's true. Five years ago in restaurants I couldn't return food as I typically got scared and got whoever came with me to do it and I've done it a few times by myself now.

      I guess the main thing is arguments my parents used to argue every week things got broken other things were ruined. Mother cheated a lot and I witnised it all, I used to hide in my wardrobe crying, other times I got in the middle of them and told them to stop shouting and the next day get a hiding from mother. It's made me a pushover and knowing I'm a pushover makes me feel cheap and worthless not as strong as other girls.

      Then I went to uni and I lost my rock (my family they were 2+ hours away). And my weakness made me pray to two super toxic girls who I both lived with for a couple of years and thought was my best friends. And I got into the mentality of guys only like me to screw and not date so why not use that to my advantage whenever I needed to scratch that itch and I did that for awhile.

      now I'm realising my confidence and self worth is shot to pieces and I need to improve before even trying to date.

  • DizzyDesii
    This was beautiful to read. Sometimes it seems like a wall but as you grow older, you learn its more so just about having standards and opening up for the right one. As far as i know, i dont have any walls up but i know when someones not what i want, regardless of if theyre right for me. I could mainly relate to this “Between 18 and now (27) I’ve had this pattern. I’ll go months or a year without dating, then there will be a period where I’m consistently meeting women until I eventually get into a relationship. The relationships would last anywhere from a month to half a year , mainly due to me staying with a woman who’s only right for me physically, hoping she’ll become right for me later. Too afraid to end things so I could find a woman who's truly right for me.” I was in love triangles at age 3 believe it or not where my best friends Chance/Logan who were only 5 fought over me. It became the story of my life as every other year was one between me and my two guy best friends Jay/Alex, Jay/Tev, Ty/Dez, Ty/Kell/Qwon, Darius/Andre, Randy/Brandon, JP/JT, Lu/Dev/Des, Ty/Ty, Nick/Nick, and so on. Yea most had the same name and are not the same Ty’s 😂 I didn't go looking for it but ig it was kinda all i knew. I dont know how to jus get to know one person (but i dont get physical with any until i decide on one) and i definitely know how to cut the others off once i feel myself beginning to love one. But yea anyone i unofficially dated would last 3 months or less. Then anyone i officially dated would be a 1-2 year relationship. But i didn't date just on physicality. Mine was more so emotional connections and i’d eventually lose attraction to them because i tried to be nice and choose personality. And as for the ones with physical attraction, they didn't share the same end goal. Either way i felt trapped with many of them because i wasn't sure how to break stuff off. But yea im just glad that now a days when it doesn't feel right, I can say bye the same week i met em. Nobody got time to waste
  • Charli7
    "But that wall also keeps girls from knowing I like them or a the very least it will make them think I don’t like them. This is especially true for girls I’ve shown genuine interests in."
    My last interest progressed for 17 months and I never knew for sure that he liked me. Just when he said, "I'd rather fight with you than anybody" I instantly felt he indicated a genuine emotional connection to me that would now change our friendship into more than a crush or physical attraction.
    Previously on the fence about his feelings towards me because he leaned in touching our lips for what felt like a few seconds and then just as I felt his bottom lip move up to lock in with mine, he leaped back like a gazelle.
    Would you think this was like a combat maneuver used to gain the upper hand on enemies? Probably not your first thought. I suggest this because after I gave him the upper hand, his body language changed to that of an uninterested cheetah now tired from chasing the gazelle. That's my deep thought for the day, primal instincts may be the only true indicator a person can trust. Learn how to read it, watch for it and adapt with the best countermoves.
    A sign of vulnerability that lasted a second too long waiting for me could have triggered an innate learned response from a previous social interaction embedding a new associated response that would take years to undo. I'm I close? Would his reaction that could loosely be like yours or anyone who's first time to be vulnerable resulted in a bad experience? These lightbulb memories that played back in our mind in slow-mo are human nature's response. Trust that. Was the response appropriate, who knows? That's where how you deal with it each time by asking questions and putting a little more of yourself out there each time instead of the expected less effort human nature wants to chemically perform as easily as any other involuntary action. Can you make yourself stop blinking (first thought in my head of an involuntary, natural response from your body to keep your eyes focused)? Sure. How much control do you actually have over your learned behavior of putting your guard up? If it's now your body's clear choice for best combat move, survival of the fittest, or vain attempt to "save face"? Ego controls the mind. The id controls the ego. And if words have any meaning one would believe Freud's term "Superego" meant it was the strongest power over the id and ego, right? In the beginning, yes, it is the strongest. The superego is your conscience. So would you be surprised to learn that it's fate will end as the weakest in this trilogy every time?
    The majority of a normal functioning person's behavior is learned in the first five years of their life. Any other personality traits displayed in clear rejection of those initial behaviors is a result of trauma that threw you off course. So, is it wrong? When it's your body's reaction now and as natural for adaption as any other normal body function as a result of stress or shock. Tighten up, cover your weak spots, only think about defense until threat has been cleared as safe now.
  • psychoticanimaIIover
    I wonder sometimes about how some people can be so unaware of how much they have changed the track of someone’s life. That girl might not even remember you. I wonder if I’ve fucked with some people’s lives and don’t know about it.
    • recvcv

      my ex destroyed me i was attached to her too son she did what she had to and break up with me. i will never forget the emptiness inside.

    • recvcv

      to her too soon*

  • RagnarRedbeard
    Something very similar happened to me in school and it had the same effect on me until I was maybe 17/18. I basically got over it when I went through a period where I went out every weekend and approached women like a machine. I knew I had to get over the fear of rejection and eventually it rolled off like water off of a duck's back, especially after I started to get laid.
    • Dongtai

      What happened to you?

    • It's funny because I didn't even like the girl, but a guy went and told her that I did. She said loudly "ewww who'd wanna go out with that little pipsqueak?" and everybody laughed. I was about 12 at the time. Not as bad as yours but it affected me in the same way. Girls would ask me out and I'd assume that they were doing it for a joke. I also became extremely aloof.

  • Its always hard to find that balance. It’s either you’re strong and can handle things by or you too vulnerable which can be misread as clingy emotional. Etc
  • Jamie05rhs
    Real shit, dude. I got rejected in 5th grade (one year before you did), and I think it changed the trajectory of my life forever.
  • Gedaria
    I'm still wondering who is the person who is vunerable.
    It's mine field dating.
    We all have had these things happen on both sides..
  • ninniburninni
    you just gotta accept that you will get a lot of rejection as a guy but you'll get used to it
  • lol ok
  • blufalcon
    yep i
  • Anonymous
    Nice take dude! Yeah--it can really suck when something like that happens. One suggestion for you on your dating strategy: Why not just not go exclusive with the girls you hit it off with physically but with whom you're not vibing in a long-term relationship way? It sounds like you end up getting to exclusive relationships with girls you know aren't right for you. Nothing wrong with just keeping it casual and staying for the sex as long as she's clear and cool with it. In the meantime you can keep an eye out for a girl who flips all of your switches. AND, give that you seem to have no problem starting things with girls, it's not big loss if she decides she doesn't want to do physical only.