Without question, many relationships can do with far more vulnerability between partners. Something powerful happens when we are willing to bare ourselves to each other as a couple, knowing that rejection, judgement, or misunderstanding are possible.
However, vulnerability has limitations.
In this guest article, Marcus Neo shares a few powerful thoughts on the idea, and particularly in relation to relationships.
I accredit a lot of my motivation and success in my life by coming across books such as The Game by Neil Strauss and Models by Mark Manson.
These books formed how I perceived a lot of female attraction, relationships initially when I was busy trying to meet women in my earlier 20s.
I remembered reading Models, by Mark Manson, a dating advice book, at a younger age of 22–23, and that book introduced me to the basic idea of vulnerability.
The author proposed the idea of vulnerability as a central argument in his book. I bought that philosophy for half a decade.
Yes, vulnerability and honesty can get you results: my dating life improved to a certain extent.
However, as I got deeper into the ‘self-improvement’ world, I can’t help to think that vulnerability as a dating philosophy can work nicely on paper or theory, and aren’t really widely applicable in real life in certain circumstances.
For example, in the book, the author argues cites the assortment theory: the best way to change your relationships is to change yourself.
For example, there are good values such as honesty, assuming responsibility and changing yourself.
Yes, you should change yourself for a better outcome.
However, here lies an inherent problem: no matter how much you change yourself, there are going to be assholes in the world.Marcus Neo
Hence, you should be more careful when interpreting such advice, for you may fall into a mode of constant self-blame or criticism.
Enter Taleb — a Clearer Way to Think
Enter, Nassim Taleb and his work: Skin in The Game.
Like all good books, the book gets your attention almost immediately, hence taking my full attention for the next couple of hours (or days).
It also shifted my perspective on the entire dating and relationships advice, motivational and self-help industry.
He argued that a lot of the social sciences from economics to psychology in general lack real-world application.
He argued that 40% of psychology studies aren’t replicable.
In simple terms: they don’t work, or may even work in reverse in the real world.
Fundamentally he argues that humans are self-centred and being universally nice is not practical.
This means you can’t be vulnerable to everyone on a universal basis.
For example, one only starts taking evolutionary psychology theories seriously when you’re interested in bettering your chance with the girl next door.
You take statistics and probability a lot more seriously when you’re option trading with real cash.
In all, he suggests that not everyone can treat everyone universally nicely.
It’s not practical.
Nassim Taleb explains: ‘you’re not equally nice to the milkman to your spouse.’
The idea that you can change your relationships just by being nice, honest or vulnerable to everyone is flawed.
How to Be Practical: No More Mr Nice Guy
Like it or not, dating and relationships are closely related to general life success.
If you can take rejection from approaching an attractive stranger on the street, you’ll generally be more competent at handling rejection, how you choose your life values and your ability to be vulnerable.
There came a point in my life where I decided I didn’t need to be ‘a better person’ or more virtuous to anyone.
I simply decided that a lot of people are merely assholes and that the majority of human beings (including myself) are self-centred creatures.
No matter how much you self-improve, the majority of your potential romantic interactions are going to go nowhere.
No matter how well-timed your jokes are, you are going to offend some people.
To put it simply, no matter how virtuous or moral, you can’t be universally nice to everyone.
In fact, let’s put it the way Taleb explains it: you aren’t universally nice to everyone.
The idea that you can be vulnerable and honest to everyone and your relationships will magically transform is a flawed idea.
You’ll still need to face rejection, stand up for yourself, and be controversial.