In a Bugs Bunny cartoon, it's easy to figure out if a guy loves a girl. She starts with the question: "Does he Love Me?" Then simply sits down in a field, plucks a flower, and engages in the ol' "He loves me; he loves me not" petal-plucking. I used to do this; exchanging the "Does He Love me" for "Does She Love me." And, I was a vicious petal-plucker. If it got close to the end and I saw it wasn't going to end favorably, that petal was unceremoniously discarded.
These days, petal plucking to answer the "does he love me" question has been toppled as the answer to everlasting love and replaced with a more direct route. Find out from the source.
Of course, this can be harder said than done: some guys have an emotional IQ that can be compared to that of an armadillo. If you ask them what they are thinking, they quickly retreat back into their leathery shell. They do this because the shell is safe and offers protection from the frustrations the relationship has produced (who knows, the shell may also be wired with cable and Wi-Fi).
But, this isn't sustainable over time — it only leads to the relationship being shell-shocked: the guy is unable to make the girl feel loved and, as a result, she feels unfulfilled, sad, and insecure. The vicious cycle has begun.
This cycle manifests in fights, arguments, backhanded statements, perhaps even an angry Tweet or twenty. The fighting may ebb—there may be make ups and even times where peace is declared—but it will start again. This is because the relationship is built on a foundation of doubt: she doubts that he loves her, he doubts his ability to make her happy. Building a relationship on a foundation of doubt is like building a house out of straw; the slightest storm will blow it right down.
Suddenly, the girl and the guy realize that every day feels like an American Idol audition: there's lots and lots of judgment and feelings of inadequacy (both parties half expect a drunken Paula Abdul to stumble into their living room). The girl in the relationship evaluates every word said and every action the guy makes, deciding whether it is good enough and erroneously reading into things that have—and have not—been said (He got himself ice cream without asking if I wanted any, he must be having an affair.")
This may lead to the guy becoming angry or upset, but it will lead him to feel insignificant. He might consider giving up or even looking elsewhere for validation. Now, the above couple appears to have a lot of issues: Dr. Phil, perhaps, could have a field day. But, in actuality, their main issue is really a non-issue: he loves her, she loves him. They simply do not see it. So, they begin looking for a remedy. Unfortunately, there is no magic potion for this. If there were, it would fly off the supermarket shelves, deemed a best seller along with the bottles marked "Fountain of Youth" and "Super Long Penis."
Rather, the solution — like the solution to every relationship problem — must come from those involved. The guy must be willing to ask the girl what kinds of things make her feel loved. Then, he must be willing to do them. The girl, on the other hand, must make herself more emotionally vulnerable. Yep, just like with having a child, the girl's job is much harder. This, naturally, can be difficult. No one likes to feel vulnerable—it's, frankly, scary. For girls who like to be in control, it's scary for even more reasons because they fear that letting go of the relationship's helm will cause it to slam right into an ice berg (and then they become despondent upon realizing they really need to stop watching Titanic).
But, becoming vulnerable can actually allow the girl to let go of her fears and her judgments and allow her to see what has been right in front of her all along: a guy offering his love. In other words, vulnerability can save the relationship. Still, some people can't just make themselves vulnerable. It's not like putting on an evening gown or red lipstick. Instead, it takes a lot of self-reflection and steps that involve:
- Figuring out why being vulnerable is so scary in the first place. Perhaps the girl was once hurt before in life or maybe her ego is preventing her from wearing her heart on her sleeve. Whatever the reason, figuring out why vulnerability is so scary can make it less so.
- Assuring oneself. Yes, assuring oneself is a tad banal; repeating out loud positive affirmations in front of the mirror, for instance, can be rather corny. But, building on the old "fake it till you make it" stance, these affirmations tend to work. Making these affirmations in places like a crowded subway platform or a dressing room at The Gap can make them, at the very least, a bit more entertaining.
- Communication times about a billion. Communication is so important to relationships that the two words may as well be synonymous with each other. In order to truly be vulnerable, the girl must tell the guy that she is. She must communicate her fears, worries, and desires to him on a routine basis: scheduling vulnerability for 8 p.m. every other Wednesday isn't going to cut it.
To find out more about how emotional vulnerability can save a relationship, click here.
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