Originally posted on Bustle
Sure, being vulnerable with someone is hard — being vulnerable on a date with someone you hardly know is even more difficult. Why? Well, it’s opening yourself up to the possibility of getting hurt, with someone you haven’t built any trust with yet. “People struggle with vulnerability because they associate it with being hurt. It’s completely understandable! Think about it; if you’re starting to date someone, it means that every other romantic relationship you’ve ever been in hasn’t worked out,” psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell, tells Bustle. “Every time you’ve been vulnerable in the past, the relationship has eventually ended and you’ve been hurt. It makes perfect sense that people get fearful, put up walls, and lose hope! They begin to associate being vulnerable with heartache so they resist it.”
I’m not saying you should start pouring out every secret of your childhood on a first date. In fact, definitely don’t do that. But you’d be amazed how much coming across as an open, welcoming person can improve your dating life. The problem is, a lot of people don’t even realize that they’re coming across as closed off — it’s become so entrenched in their personality to have their guard up, that they don’t know any different.
Here are some signs that you’re not vulnerable on a date — because it’s harder than it looks:
1. You’re Firing Away The Questions
Asking questions is good, don’t get me wrong. It shows that you’re interested — and not a totally self-obsessed — and is a great way to get to know someone. But it can get out of hand. If you’re interviewing them but refusing to answer anything about yourself, just constantly changing the subject back to them, then you’re not letting anyone get to know you.
2. You’re Cultivating An Air Of Mystery
Do you like to feel like an enigma? I know, it seems cool and edgy. But often it’s just a shield to stop being vulnerable. “Being vulnerable helps you weed out who is truly people who deserve to be in your life, and those who do not,” psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC tells Bustle. “Being vulnerable with people is entrusting them with the most delicate and deepest part of you. It allows you to see who is worthy of your trust, and who is not to be trusted.”
3. You Won’t Give Away Too Much Time
This is something I’ve totally been guilty of. Now, it’s definitely OK to be more independent in a relationship and not spend all your time together when you’re dating someone, especially at the beginning. But if you’re refusing to budge on giving more than a tiny sliver of your time, you’re keeping the person you’re dating at arm’s length. Whether that means a 30- minute date or only seeing them for a brief period every-other-week, you’re definitely not being a vulnerable date.
4. You’re All About The Games
“You may automatically assume that dating is some kind of game or competition to be mastered rather than something fun and enjoyable. If this isn’t checked you can lose a sense of trust and the belief that two people can meet, like each other, and form a relationship in a natural, easy way,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. You wait a certain amount of time to text, you breadcrumb, you keep the upper hand — it’s definitely not genuine or vulnerable.
5. There’s Always An Expiration Date
Maybe you don’t even realize you’re doing it, but if things always seem to end before you get into something serious, you’re probably not being vulnerable enough with the people you’re going on dates with. You may not be giving it the potential to succeed and, whether you know it or not, that vibe can come across to the people you’re seeing. So neither of you might be ending it, but it’s never turning into something more.
6. You Assume Everyone Is Going To Screw You Over
“Since a relationship is about becoming vulnerable, trust can be a huge trigger,” Dawn Maslar, aka “the Love Biologist,” tells Bustle. And that can mean that you’re constantly assuming the person you’re on a date with is trying to catch you out. Maybe you think they don’t actually like you or are just using you or are messing around with other people and lying about it. Letting yourself be vulnerable means saying, “Hey, maybe this person likes me and maybe that could be a real thing.”
7. You Break Things Off For No Reason
If you’re constantly going on a few dates and breaking it off, but can never name exactly why, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. There’s nothing wrong with being picky or knowing what you want, but if you can never figure out why you don’t like someone, it may be time for some soul-searching.
Being vulnerable is so much harder than it sounds for some of us. But if you’re being overly guarded then that’s going to show, even on a first date. Give yourself a chance and try opening up, at least a little at a time.