Don’t restrain

It seems counterproductive to me that our conventional dating practices revolve around maintaining emotional restraint and preventing perceptions that we’re too available.

While efforts to “play hard to get” undoubtedly spark romantic curiosity and short-term desire, they also quite literally make you hard to get.

In reality, showing vulnerability is attractive because it allows the other person to feel safe being vulnerable. So why, then, are we trying to prevent individuals whom we want to be attracted to us from seeing something that has the potential to be extremely endearing?

Yet the benefit of hiding our emotions is clear: showing any kind of vulnerability puts us or our egos at risk for getting hurt. This popular means of seduction is limiting, however, because emotional restraint isn’t an effective means for fostering close relationships.

Restraint of emotions allows us to control the situation, or so we think, because we are waiting to let ourselves be emotionally invested once — and only once — the other person reassures us that our feelings won’t be hurt.

Effortful restraint of our emotions, however, requires that we first admit to ourselves that we have an impulse or desire in need of control. Therefore, it seems to me that our restraint is evidence that we’re already emotionally invested.

Is the dating “game” really just a matter of seducing the other person into showing vulnerability first?

If you say you don’t show vulnerability because you genuinely don’t care, I believe you. I do wonder where the defensive nature surrounding “what we care about” derives from.

Did you, perhaps, appraise caring about something as a bad thing and even offensive? That “something”, by the way, being another human being’s feelings, emotions or desires.

I believe we’re implicitly taught to judge caring about others as not only embarrassing, but also demeaning. How are we expected to develop meaningful relationships when we are encouraged to be emotionally guarded?

While our egos need acceptance and love, they prevent us from achieving just that. It becomes imperative to define what winning the “game” entails for us personally.

Whether it’s a short-term romance, a self-esteem boost, satisfying our curiosity or a long-term relationship, without understanding our end goal, we’re putting ourselves at risk of emotional failure.

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