How to Be Vulnerable With a Man: Learn How To Open Up to Him

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You search and search for Mr. Right…then you finally find him…and you struggle with a new challenge: how to be vulnerable with a man.

Whether you haven’t been in a serious relationship before…

Or you’ve been terribly hurt in one…

Vulnerability does not come easy for most women (or men). But it’s also a key component of a loving and healthy relationship. Here, I want to give you some tips on how to open up and let this man into your heart fully.

Why You Should Learn How to Be Vulnerable with a Man

Let’s look at Scarlett O’Hara, the main character in Gone with the Wind, to understand why being vulnerable is a good thing.

She flitted from husband to husband during the Civil War, mainly focusing on her own financial security. She never really loved any of them…until she met Rhett Butler.

After some trials and tribulations, she realized that her marriage to him wasn’t just one of convenience…she actually loved the guy! And so…a little too late…she opens up to him.

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His response?

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Scarlett built a fortress around her heart, and it wasn’t until she removed it that she actually learned how to be vulnerable with a man. Unfortunately for her, that happened too late.

Don’t be like Scarlett.

Being vulnerable with someone you love (and who loves you in return) creates a deeper level of intimacy. You’re essentially putting your heart on a platter and saying, here. I trust you with this. Please don’t break it.

When you and your man both allow yourselves to be vulnerable with each other, you build a deeper bond of trust. You’re saying, I’m showing you my underbelly here, and hope that you do the same for me.

Scientific research has proven that mutual openness between partners plays a role in creating and sustaining a healthy relationship. That’s what you’re aiming for, isn’t it?

And lastly, you want to be emotionally naked because it’s incredibly sexy to men. When you’re able to open up to someone you trust, he knows he’s doing all the right things to make you happy and will continue to work for your love.

What Being Vulnerable in a Relationship ISN’T

But Adam, you say, if I’m vulnerable with a man, it means I’m weak.

Absolutely not.

Being vulnerable isn’t being weak or submissive. It isn’t about letting him walk all over you. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything he says.

Vulnerability isn’t about letting a man control the relationship, or even needing a man in your world.

As research professor, Brené Brown, says: Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage arenʼt always comfortable, but theyʼre never weakness.

On Being Vulnerable After Being Hurt

I’ll be honest with you: when you successfully learn how to be vulnerable with a man, it opens you up to getting hurt…again.

Women who have been divorced, who have been lied to or cheated on, or even abused, find it incredibly hard to expose themselves to pain again. That’s completely natural. If this describes you, you very well may be building that Scarlett O’Hara fortress around your heart, thinking it will keep you from ever being hurt again.

Perhaps it will…but it will also keep you from truly loving anyone. In my book, it’s worth it to take down that wall and let a little love in, even if it means risking pain again.

One point I should make is: you have to be 100% healed from past pain before you can open up your heart to someone new. If you’re trying to rush into a new relationship so you don’t have to feel that old pain anymore, you’re not being fair to this new guy or yourself. If a new relationship has any hope of success, you must completely let go of past heartache and be open to a fresh start. No wall around your heart required.

10 Tips for How to Be Vulnerable with a Man

Learning how to be vulnerable with a man may take some time, so don’t expect overnight results. But if you’re putting in the work, you should see him doing the same, which can make it easier to continue to open up to him in new ways as your relationship evolves.

1. Share Your Feelings

sharing feelings

Sharing feelings is the first step in learning how to be vulnerable with a man.

In the early days of a relationship, it can be daunting to tell your boyfriend how you feel…especially if you’re not sure those feelings are reciprocated. Ironically, the best way to move a relationship forward is to tell him how you feel!

When I’m worried about getting hurt by expressing myself, I ask myself: what’s the worst that can happen?

If you tell a guy you’re falling for him, what’s the worst that can happen? He could laugh in your face and run maniacally down the street…though I’m 99.9% certain that won’t happen. Maybe he won’t feel the same. Can you handle that? Everyone falls in love at a different pace, so don’t assume that him not saying he’s falling too means he never will.

And if you’re further into your relationship, you should continue to share how you feel. Let’s say he didn’t call for his nightly check-in with you, and you start to panic (this actually happened to me and my girlfriend a few years ago).  The next day when he calls, your first instinct is to scream at him. How inconsiderate! How could he treat you like that?

But instead, you take a deep breath and tell him that you were worried. You were scared something had happened to him.

Which reaction do you think he’ll respond best to: being yelled at or you being honest that you were worried?

When you communicate how you feel rather than letting anger take center stage, you develop a really beautiful way to communicate with your partner.

2. Talk About Past Pains That Make Vulnerability Hard

While I certainly don’t want to tell you to constantly talk about past boyfriends, giving your current guy a little insight into the situations that have made you shy away from love and trust can be helpful in your relationship.

Telling him, for example, that your ex-husband cheated on you and that trust doesn’t come easily to you will help your new boyfriend understand that there are areas he may need to be especially sensitive about with you.

While you want to tell him about past experiences that make trust difficult, you also want to make sure you’re fully healed and don’t play the victim in your current relationship. Own your past experiences, but also let them go. I know; it’s hard. But this new guy didn’t make the mistakes. The old one did. Don’t punish your boyfriend for past heartbreak.

3. Pay Attention to His Behavior

couple shopping

You want him to show that he’s giving to you as much as you are him.

As you learn to be vulnerable with a man, you understandably want him to be vulnerable with you as well. So pay attention to what he’s communicating.

Is he sharing his feelings? Telling you about past experiences? Being open and honest? Really listening to you? These are all good signs that he’s being vulnerable with you.

If you’re not getting these things, it’s time to step back to decide whether or not he’s on the same page emotionally as you are or not. You don’t want to pour open your heart to a man that will never commit.

4. Always, Always Be Honest

You might worry what he’d think if he knew how you really felt about something, so you tell an occasional white lie. What’s the big deal?

It is a big deal, actually, because lying prevents you from learning how to be vulnerable with a man. You can’t be emotionally open if you’re keeping things from him. One tiny lie can snowball, and down the road, it could threaten your relationship.

Know that if this is really The One, there’s no truth you can say that he won’t be okay with.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Your Mind

speak your mind

Make sure you’re comfortable speaking your mind to him.

I know a lot of women who are afraid of conflict…so much so that they never tell their partners when something is bothering them.

If they are finally brave enough to bring it up, they’re often pleasantly surprised to realize that, instead of causing an argument, they had a really productive conversation with their mates instead.

So if something’s on your mind about your relationship (maybe it bothers you that he doesn’t call very often),  find a way to bring it up without being accusatory. Tell him how this thing makes you feel, and focus on how the two of you can work on things to make them better.

6. Know Your Attachment Style

Each of us has a different attachment style, and understanding yours can impact how you become vulnerable in a relationship. For example, if your attachment style is anxious, you may want reassurance that your man feels the same as you by having him tell you he loves you, texting you throughout the day, or giving you physical touch. If you have an avoidant attachment style, opening up to him may be more challenging, so you need to figure out how to take down those barriers.

It can be helpful to have a conversation about attachment styles so you both know the best way to communicate feelings and emotions with the other person.

7. Ask for Help

cooking couple

Make yourself vulnerable by asking for help.

Another way you can learn how to be vulnerable with a man is to ask for help now and then. I get it; you’ve been single a while, and you don’t like feeling like you need a guy for anything, whether it’s killing a spider or being there for you when you’re going through hard times.

And yet, learning to lean on your romantic partner is a necessity.

Look at it like this: if he was having a hard time, you’d want him to ask you for help, right? So why can’t you do the same? True partnerships take turns being strong for one another. If you’re the one stressed about work, he should be the one to support you. If he loses a family member, you’ll be the strong one.

But you have to be willing to be vulnerable by letting him know you need his help.

If this is hard, start small! Ask him for help around the house (opening a jar, reaching something up high). Over time, try to lean on him more emotionally until it becomes second nature.

8. List Reasons You’re Afraid of Being Vulnerable

If you struggle with how to be vulnerable with a man, consider writing out the reasons you’re afraid. Your list might look something like this:

  • I’m afraid he won’t reciprocate my love.
  • I’m afraid of getting hurt again.
  • I’m afraid I can’t trust him.
  • I’m afraid I’ll look weak or needy.

Sometimes just the simple act of writing out our fears can help us overcome them. After making your list, see if you are as afraid of being vulnerable as you were before. No? Great. Start opening up slowly, seeing that it doesn’t hurt, then increase how open you are over time.

9. Get a Reality Check with Your Friends

three people cooking

Get your friend’s perspective on whether he’s giving as much as he gets.

If you’re not quite confident enough to trust your gut in a new relationship, turn to your friends for an outsider’s perspective. They may be able to see things you can’t.

For example: do they see him reciprocating your love and affection, or do they see it as one-sided? Do they see him going out of his way to do things for you, or do they consider him selfish?

Your friends love you and want what’s best for you, so if they aren’t seeing him returning what you’re giving, they’ll let you know before you make yourself too susceptible to getting hurt.

10. Do a Vulnerability Check-in Every So Often

More than likely, you’ll do the bulk of your work learning how to be vulnerable with a man at the start of your relationship, but it’s just as important to remain open and communicative about your feelings throughout your relationship. Over time, the normal ups and downs of your relationship may cause your vulnerability level to increase or decrease, depending on what’s going on.

Make sure you assess how open you’re being with your partner a few times a year to ensure that those walls are staying down around your heart, and that you’re still communicating how you feel about aspects of your relationship. It never hurts to check in to see how he’s feeling about things, too. You may both bring up small issues that could become bigger ones if you don’t address them, so be open to those fruitful conversations every few months.


Being in a relationship does mean that you take risks, but like anything, the more you risk, the greater the reward. Opening up your heart to the right guy can introduce you to unparalleled levels of love. All it takes is learning how to be vulnerable with a man.

While you might think that only insecure people are vulnerable, in fact, the opposite is true. When you are vulnerable, your insecurity disappears. Think about it: you tell your boyfriend something that’s been bothering you, and he is eager to make things better. What you were insecure about, you are now confident about because you’ve told him how you felt about it, and now he’s working to make sure you aren’t upset anymore.

Like I said: learning how to be vulnerable with a man doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work, and you have to face your fears. But once you do, your relationship has a real chance to blossom.

Are you ready for love? Join me on this free webinar to learn how to open your heart to a man and find true love.

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6 years ago

Your advise is rock solid and straight up correct! I’m almost 70 and along with these basics you teach, I have learned a ton from your work which has helped me have a more fruitful social life. What’s fed to us as “normal” through media of all kinds is pretty much about 20% normal in my experience. Your advice is flat excellent by comparison. I especially like the advice about people falling in love on different time tables. And from your prior work, to be aware of what’s really happening in the relationship and what’s provably wishful thinking. Thanks and… Read more »

Theresa Grau
5 years ago

This hits home. I met someone last year after I got out of one rehab, and was admitting myself into another. I basically ran and never looked back. Upon my return. There he is, he walked into the place I am staying. I had forgotten who he was. Then it clicked. Weve have gotten closer as friends since. He layed ALL his cards out. We cried together. ALL NEW TO ME. I’m 44 hes 41. I have never been here. I let him read some of my past that I had to write to graduate the rehab I admitted my… Read more »

Sharon Slevin
3 years ago
Reply to  Theresa Grau

Thank you,that was lovely to read,i resonate with much of it.Love and light to you and your closest friend.I wish you well on your journey.x

Lisa Alger
4 years ago

Wow, am I blown away today! I’ve been ghosted a few times by this guy I’m seeing, or at least texting, again, who lives in my town. He has a wall up due to divorce 12 yrs ago same as me! I went to a counselor who said he’s not “emotionally available.” I text and told him and said some not very good things out of frustration. Figured never talk to him again. When to my surprise he writes next day saying maybe counselor right; stay away from him! Tears flowed. Then he writes back but can we still keep… Read more »

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