A lesson on vulnerability, communication, and showing up!
Before we get into this one, let me preface this dating blog post by saying that one of the ways my matchmaking clients get to learn a little about their dates beforehand is by providing questions they’d like for me to ask potential candidates during my screenings with them.
One of my clients has asked that I pose the question, “What do you wish men knew about women,” to his matches. The third time I asked this question to a potential candidate, I heard the same answer that I had heard from the two young ladies before her. I started laughing and explained to the candidate why. She suggested I start a blog sharing all of the funny things I experience in my line of work as a Matchmaker and Dating and Relationship Coach. Thanking her for the idea, I explained that I already had an active blog and that I would be adding an entry to discuss this very topic.
So what did they say that was blog post-worthy?
In a nutshell - “I know I’m a strong, capable woman but I don’t want to have to be that in the context of my relationship. I want to feel like I can trust my partner to handle things so I don’t have to.”
This brought several things to my attention.
1. Women who feel this way may need help learning how to communicate this to a partner.
2. Women who feel this way may need help learning how to relinquish control.
3. Men may need help understanding that a woman who presents this way in the outer world truly has a softer, less-dominant side that she wants to tap into.
4. Men may need help learning what they can do to help this type of woman feel that she can trust him and let go.
How do you tell your partner that you don’t want to be strong all the time and that you need them to help you learn how to relinquish control in the relationship?
A note to women:
Tell him. Just as these women shared their thoughts and opinions on the matter with me, I think it’s important for them to share these same thoughts and feelings with their partners. Women can express themselves in relationships by creating moments conducive to conversation. Setting time aside in an intimate atmosphere is key. Using “I” statements and maintaining eye contact (with a little physical touch) softens the mood and communicates that you’re not here to fight but to connect.
A note to men:
Recognize her strengths and abilities. Acknowledge the success they afford her in other settings. Clap for her. Celebrate her. AND, make room for her to shift out of that role when she’s at home (or simply with you). Give her a REASON to trust that she can.
Yes, she needs a reason. Should she? Maybe. Maybe not. But, typically, a woman who is used to leading and handling things on her own will only let go of the reins when she feels that she can do so safely.
Now, please hear me. This is not related to any form of toxic masculinity or traditional gender roles. It’s simply a request from a strong woman (or a few) for a man to be present, responsible, and reliable enough to TRUST with her vulnerability.
Ooooh…the “v” word.
Is this really about vulnerability? It is. Anytime someone relinquishes control or transfers power/authority or gives another person the opportunity to influence their lives, vulnerability is at the center of that moment.
She wants to be vulnerable but the question in the back of her mind remains, “Is it safe to be vulnerable with my partner?” I think this part of the conversation is extremely important. Women want to be able to trust their partners. They want to be able to relinquish control and share responsibilities. What I also know is that, for some women, this is hard to do.
Another note to women:
Don’t wait for him to show you that he can be trusted with the reins. Give them to him early on and see how he handles them. Now, I know you might be reading this and asking if I’m crazy but hear me out. Sometimes, if we wait for ourselves to feel comfortable enough to do a thing, we’ll never do it. If we look for reasons why we should, we might find reasons why we shouldn’t. If we think too hard about it, we’ll convince ourselves that it’s not the right thing to do because as much as we want to, we’re scared.
YES, scared. We’re scared to let go of the reins out of fear that he’ll let us down or drop the ball and leave some mess for us to clean up. The truth is, that may be exactly what happens. Or, he might show up for us in ways we could never imagine; but we’ll never know if we don’t give him a chance.
Give him a chance.
Assume that he is capable.
Trust that he can do it until he shows you otherwise.
& talk to him - let him know what you’re thinking and feeling.
You’re used to doing it all. We know that you can and we applaud your tenacity, grit, strength, determination, grind, and pursuits. However, if I know anything about men, it’s that men like to be allowed to feel like a man. Call it ego. Call it pride. Call it whatever you wish but it’s an innate and natural desire to want to feel capable, trusted, respected, and empowered.
The sooner you give him the reins and show him that you trust him with them, the sooner he has the opportunity to show you what he can do with the reins in his hands and you by his side for support.
Another note to men:
When she hands you the reins, take them and manage them well. Don’t take it lightly that you’ve met a strong woman who has chosen to run the risk of being vulnerable with you. Honor her trust and vulnerability by showing up and delivering when and where you can.
While this isn’t about who the reins belong to in the first place, it is a conversation about how strong women are used to doing things for themselves. While they’d rather let go of them, they typically hold on out of fear, familiarity, and a lack of trust. As her partner, you can show her that it’s okay for her to lean into her desire to let go, that it’s safe to do so. Even with that being said, we don’t want to put the pressure completely on you all the time.
If there comes a moment when you need her assistance, ask for it. Don’t fumble your way through it. This will only create space for distrust. If you need her to operate in her strengths in a moment (because it’s certainly okay for you to be human and life likes to "life" pretty often - ha!), communicate that to her and share the why behind it. She’ll certainly appreciate that more than you fumbling without a word. Plus, teamwork is always better.
A note to men and women:
Relationships are about two people coming together to work towards a common goal. Always remember that you are on the same team. Don’t take your partner’s actions personally. Her tendency to always do things may not be a sign that she doesn’t believe in your abilities. She may simply be falling into “old habits.” Remind her that she doesn’t have to do it alone anymore. The way he does things may not be the way you do them. Are things done? Are they handled? If yes, then rest. As time progresses the two of you will learn more about one another and things will smooth themselves out. He’ll know the way you like things done and you’ll learn to trust the methods to his madness. Give it time and communicate along the way.
Ladies, what’s holding you back from trusting your partner, being vulnerable, and giving in to that desire to let him take the lead?
Gentlemen, are you ready, able, and willing to create space for her to lean into her femininity and womanhood when she’s with you?
If this conversation struck a bit of a nerve with you and you'd like to dive deeper into the conversation, schedule a consultation or a coaching session with me and let's figure out how I can support you in navigating this topic.