There, I Said It!

“There, I said it”, he texted me after he asked me what I was doing on Friday night.  Then four months after I stated “I love you” to my Clark Kent (CK). 

For the first time in my life, I said those 3 words first. My whole life, I was too scared to utter the words –  to put myself out there was so frightening – I stressed what the response may be. In some previous relationships, I said”I love you too” when I did not really feel love in any way. In those situations, I liked the individual and did not want to hurt their feelings. This time, I did not say it anticipating a reply, I said it because I knew it to be true for me. Like a gift, it made me happy to give him these three words.  

All of a sudden, I felt nervous and inexperienced. I could immediately tell he had no motions, he was not playing games, which meant I did not know what my next move ought to be. His vulnerability and transparency left me weak in the knees. Thank God, I listened to my gut and did not run away. 

This is a brand new connection, I understand… the honeymoon period. I don’t have any idea whether it’s for a reason, a season or a lifetime, but I know it’s changing me in profound ways. 

You see from day one, we’ve been honest about everything! We discuss our anxieties and worries as easily as our achievements and hopes. We share our faith in God, in humanity and in positivity. We invite another to pursue interests, remain on task, and we relate and accept each other’s tendency to procrastinate occasionally and also to hit the snooze button. We give each other the benefit of the doubt and assume the very best in each other. We endeavor to be the best version of ourselves for each other. 

The cool thing about our beginning is that I must see the psychological man from the beginning. He showed up that way and he gave me the confidence I had to show up that way also. CK listens to me, makes me laugh everyday, offers to help but not insists, gives me distance, is my biggest fan, supports me emotionally (like nobody ever has before). 

In 52, being emotionally supported is currently on top of my requirements. In case you’re curious, he did not say those three words back. Not that day or for days later. 

 

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Men, Do You Know How Sexy You Are When You Are Vulnerable?

Six decades ago, I opted to leave a guy who would not talk. When things got emotional, he would work and work and work. I didn’t pester him to speak. I thought if I let him be, he would emerge with words and we would feel connected once more.

But he never arose.

We had an 18-month-old and he was the breadwinner. Our initial agreement was that he would carry the majority of the financial responsibility until our daughter was 3, and then we would contribute equally. That meant he worked long hours during the summer for his contracting company. Finally, his long hours out the home led him to invest more long hours in front of his computer doing book-keeping when he arrived home. It meant I spent 10 to 12 hours {} with my daughter, whom he played for an hour once he got home so that I could shower and have some me time (which meant binging on Netflix to my very depleted self). We barely interacted. I needed to talk or hang out after our daughter went to bed and he would complain that he was too tired and it was not a fantastic time.

It was never a fantastic time.

Finally, our communication only revolved around what needed to get done around the house. I recall the night I left him. It was only after Memorial day and a significant heatwave hit Upstate NY. I recall I had asked him a couple of days before if he would set the air conditioner in our bedroom and he said he had been too busy. I was putting my daughter down for a nap, beads of sweat dripping down both of our faces as he passed from the bedroom on the way to his basement workshop. “Can you set the AC unit in now? It is too hot in here for her to sleep.”

So quickly I began to shake. My infant was shaking in my arms also. I hugged her in tight. He stood there with wide-eyes and a gaping mouth holding his hands.

I sped down the stairs and out to the porch stoop with my little girl in my arms. Taking deep breaths, I looked up in the bird’s nest on the porch. My daughter said, “Bid” in her toddler’s voice. That is how you got your name. You are named after a very special little songbird.” As I was saying this, my insides were piercing each mobile with shards of dread. My words were soothing me over my daughter. I was desperately hoping she did not sense my fear too much. The baby birds provided a wonderful diversion for a few silent minutes.

He then walked to the porch, his face filled with pity; his head hanging low. “I’m sorry,” he whispered in a barely audible tone.

The minute he spoke words which had a hint of feeling in them a rage rushed through me. It was a motivating, energizing type of force. It was a mama bear kind of ferocity. I stood up, tightening my loving grip in my daughter. “What you did is not okay. I am done.” I began to walk to the vehicle.

“I am going to my parents.

This was not the first time he had an angry outburst that broke his hands. He had done the exact same thing to the wall in our living room almost exactly a year before. But just for a couple of days. He came to my parents, filled with guilt, with a bouquet of wildflowers in his hands. The blossoms and guilt won me over. So did the fact that our daughter, that was 6 months at the time did not witness the event.

But this time was different. I knew our baby would hold of memory of the day in her subconscious forever. And while I knew he’d never put a hand on me, I felt in my bones that this was the grand finale of our connection. We were getting my parents and I did not want that for my little one. There was a pattern forming which couldn’t be changed if I had been the only one willing to perform the job.

I didn’t want my daughter to be raised in a family full of tension and silence and emotional repression combined with bouts of angry outbursts. I experienced that in my youth and I did not want my daughter re-living my family history.

Months before we attempted. Hard. We went to treatment. But nothing could change at home. He opened up on the therapist’s couch after much poking and prodding on her role. With me, he just shut down. I felt helpless and hopeless and very, very lonely. I felt disrespected and perplexed. I wasted a lot of hours wondering what was wrong with me and trying to determine how I could be a better partner for him to open up. I emptied myself by trying to do his job for him.

What I wanted is exactly what many women not only need but also crave desperately: my guy to open me up.

When I left my daughter’s dad, I felt like I was leaving a stranger. I didn’t really know him. I just knew parts of him. His shut-down self put up such a enormous wall, it prevented me from getting close. I, like most people in relationships, simply wanted closeness.

This world needs most are partnerships which are oozing with vulnerability. The sort of vulnerability that’s mixed with the salty tears of emotional release and the juices of lovemaking. The sort of vulnerability that leads to breakthroughs rather than breakdowns.

I closed down my heart for quite a long time after I left my ex. I lost faith in the opposite sex. I lost hope that guys who may open up and share their hurts or fears or insecurities, even if it scared them shitless to do so even existed.

I recently met a guy that had the guts to take a deep dip to his insecurities with me. At a moment of anxiety, as he stood there, averting his gaze. I gently asked,”What is going on for you.” “You don’t need to tell me if you do not need to. I meant what I said. According to my past, I knew I could not force a man to start up if he did not wish to. I knew he would open up to me and when he was ready. I was only hoping this could be a when-man rather than an if-man.

My entire being lit up when he began to stutter out his feelings. In moments, I felt closer to him than ever. I knew why he was holding back; he was feeling insecure. When he gave voice to his feelings, his entire body relaxed. His eyes met mine with fresh confidence. As our eyes locked, years of despair washed from me. I smiled at him and felt like my entire being had a glow. It was the type of smile you get when something you have been dreaming of suddenly appears right in front of you.

Vulnerability is just the expression of our feelings, as they are, right here and right now. It is that simple stuff quiz tunes are made of. But grown-up people make it so complex. Songs move from the pure expression of the here and now to ballads about being misunderstood and rejected.

Our civilization has made expressing feelings much more complicated for men. I have talked to so many men that have said they’d be seen as weak or effeminate when they spoke in their authentic feelings with”the boys.” Rather, they make fun of the feelings. Or they numb them by getting high or drunk with the men. Or they get into competitive sports and let them out at a war-like, somewhat aggressive fashion.

If men knew how much of a twist on exposure is, there are a great deal less relationship tension and far more connected sex in this world.

If men allowed themselves to soften and open to the raw feelings of the moment, they would tap into a well of deep confidence and enthusiasm than they ever knew existed inside them.

But most men dread opening up, not because they fear that their partner will reject them, but because they fear society will. What is going to happen when feelings begin to become acknowledged and your spouse loves you more for it rather than less? Are you going to feel less apt to get drunk with the guys? Will your bike start rusting? Will your sarcasm melt off?

I don’t know what is going to happen inside your social circles as soon as you start losing your layers of shame and protection, but I do understand that your lover will thank you. And I can almost guarantee you’ll experience a level of emotional intimacy that’s far better than an orgasm. For real. Better, not simply because it is going to feel amazing, but since it’ll be a long-lasting sort of amazing.

I may also share that I have known guys who’ve shed their layers of security by beginning to open up; to be fair. It began with one minute of courage where they walked through the fear of sharing what was in their mind and in their own center and risked everything. And once they pushed through that very first moment and got love and approval rather than the rejection they felt so terrified of, they wanted more. A number of them told me their relationships with their male friends changed — for the better. They became the light-bearer. When they dropped their sarcasm for sensitivity, their friends felt fascination and respect.

“What do you do otherwise, man? I like your vibe. It feels as if you are really present and more relaxed. Tell me how I could feel this way also.”

Well, maybe the discussions did not go down just like that. But even an inkling of that can open the floodgates for a new kind of man: the so confident with his own emotions that it is sexy type of male. I am swooning just writing it out.

We love your nude bodies adoring on ours. The more you reveal what is in your mind and in your heart, the more turned on we will get.

And we both know what happens when you turn us on.

Now go get emotionally nude for your woman.

Now.

There’ll never be a fantastic time or the ideal time.

Get emotionally naked.

Now.

You can thank me later.

Previously Published on Moderate

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Escaping Traditional Masculinity Might Be the Bravest Thing a Man Can Do

Cry-baby. Both of these heart-wrenching words that men are advised as small boys, and as they grow up to be well — men, their self, and real emotions become suppressed.

I talk in fact, as a thirty-something-year-old girl that there’s nothing sexier than a guy living in his raw, emotionally naked self. It’s what builds for trust and connection in a profound, long-lasting, and romantic relationship. I don’t like to guess what you’re thinking, feeling, or what it is that you truly want. As your partner, I’m there to listen. 

Please bare it all! I wish to know what I’m up against, what I could take, not take, and what I am prepared to put up with (I dare you to try me!) .

By all means, I don’t expect you to suppress being the guy you were born as; the person who might automatically feed into his animalistic character when he sees something, or somebody his insides crave.  However, I do ask that you not dread to take out the mask. I ask that you don’t reside in shame if that Ed Sheeran song you hear on the radio while driving to work makes you only a tad bit choked up, or, worse, forces you to begin considering your own life, and possibly even marriage.

It’s okay, and it’s safe to feel your feelings. Feelings are precisely that — they are supposed to be felt. I promise not to judge!

It’s okay to be imperfect. The majority of the time our most important fuck-ups lead to burnout, even if you must ride out the shit storm to get there. It is the way you rise back up again, and that ultimately is the one thing that really matters. Learn how to love your scars, and I’ll love them. I get that you’re not unbreakable.

Failing at work, at a target, in a dream, or a connection doesn’t make you a failure as a man. I adore you for failing, since it means you attempted. It means you cared for something to go after it. And it means that you’re courageous enough to fucking do it!

Since there’s nothing more beautiful, and sexy than permitting us to adore you, even if you’re broken. There’s nothing more magical than to see, and be seen for who you really are. And, perhaps, you may just come to discover that the little boy inside is braver than the guy who shows his face to the world each and every day.

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I shared a vulnerable place  and an outpouring of support, trust, and link came my way. A couple of people asked me,”Are you okay? I’m here for you.”Others said,”Thank you for sharing. This really helped me through difficulty.” And some said,”You are really brave.” It touched me. And it got me wondering, why was an easy sharing of the center so upsetting for people? Is it unusual in daily life? Are we so disconnected from our hearts?In my experience, the answer is yes.  And most challenging of all is when we hide our heart where it matters most — in our intimate relationship with our principal partner. And yet if we open our heart, our spouse opens to us. But we have to have the courage to act. Still, often we do not. It happens when in reaction to sharing, we hear…You will be fine, honey.Just get it over. Afterward, we feel even more lonely.  Did he hear me? Does she care?  We wonder. It is too much. But I need to challenge you.  Can it kill you?  Is it worth keeping your heart locked up?For some individuals, the answer is yes, without even knowing it; it is unconscious.We lock away our hearts to stay safe and paradoxically, it makes us less secure.  And as time passes, we lose one another.”There are elements of our personal story that are top secret. They’re off limits; we don’t dare show them to anyone.”All of this holding back makes us think that our spouse also has no additional mysteries to reveal. At this time, Eros begins to recoil.”-Prem Baba, “From Suffering to Joy: The Path of The Heart” Eros, that exotic part of us that’s profoundly curious about our spouse. When it is gone, we endure. Vital pieces of us die. The spark of dating simmers out.Simply said, the locking up of someone’s heart is a sort of self-betrayal and self-abandonment. It’s like you’re saying to yourself, I am not worthy of being loved; not worthy of being viewed; not worthy of relationship. So then, how can you keep your heart open in connection?Without the fear of burdening your spouse? Minus the fear of being weak? The answer has to do with you, more than your spouse. And it looks like that… cultivate healthy self-relationship… experience your heart. Sit with the pieces of you (fear, hope, loss, judgment, etc) that you resist sharing with your spouse. Work with these parts. As I said in my article last week, if I am not attached to me, I can not be attached to you. It’s that easy.Healthy self-relationship is the basis for a heartfelt, energized, and satisfying spouse relationship.  Once we practice it, we learn to open our heart to our ego and our spouse — without fear of judgment.When you commit to being in healthy self-relationship, you are saying, self-evident self. We are in this for the long haul. We get to know each other.  It lets you approach your beloved in a responsible way — with a tender heart, stripped of projection or blame, and a brave sense of vulnerability. “Babe, I’ve been in lots of fear lately. I wish to speak with you. And yet I am afraid you may not be amenable to hearing me. Can I share what has been happening with me?”I feel like we have been losing one another lately. I wish to feel closer to you.”Notice all of the”I” statements. Self-responsibility is alluring.  You are in your autonomous, building ethics with your own desires and needs — and producing authentic, permitted, and energized relationship with your spouse.And your spouse feels it.  She or he can relax, feel connected to you, and expect you to stay connected, even once you disconnect from yourself.—-Shutterstock

Is it worth keeping your heart locked up?

The article Hiding Hard Feelings and How It Affects Your Relationship appeared on The Great Men Project.

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