Do you ever feel like there are certain buzzwords that go through phases of popularity?
Authenticity. Community. Fellowship. Missionary Discipleship. Vulnerability.
Out of all of those buzzwords, one that I think especially applies to online dating is vulnerability.
I remember when InstaStories first came out (the Snapchat of Instagram). It felt like all of sudden everyone was becoming vulnerable on this new form of social media technology. They were showing what was really going on in their lives, in real time. It got me thinking about how vulnerability applies to our online presence as Catholics (and as Catholics dating!).
There are healthy and unhealthy ways to be vulnerable when it comes to our online dating experience as Catholics. It is probably easy for some of us to imagine and recall unhealthy examples of being vulnerable.
But what does healthy vulnerability look like in your dating life? What are healthy ways to embrace it?
Leading researcher and professor Dr. Brene Brown is known for reminding people that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but as humans, has the potential to be our greatest strength. In her book Rising Strong, she writes: “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
I am far from an expert in this department, but here are a few ideas to help you embrace this in dating as a Catholic.
Be aware of the fractured parts of your story
Whether you realize it or not, we all have wounds and baggage that affect us in our adult lives and relationships. To embrace vulnerability as our greatest strength, we have to face and heal our pain points from the journey of life.
How can we know where we need to grow if we’re completely in the dark to our own pain?
As a Catholic dating, this looks like taking care of yourself first. We want to be our most free, healthy self when in a relationship. I’ve found going to counseling is an important way to bring together the fractured parts of myself. Knowing yourself more deeply helps you show up more authentically as yourself in dating and serious relationships.
Remember not to overshare
We all know people who overshare. They’re our family members, or our friends on Facebook. There comes a point where someone overshares so much that it becomes overwhelming.
So what does it look like to share parts of our life in a healthy way? In dating, this means sharing and disclosing as much as your partner does. Don’t overwhelm him or early on with lots of probing questions that feel like a CIA interrogation. Trust builds slowly and over time in lots of little moments. Don’t rush getting to know someone but let it unfold over time.
I have certainly made my share of mistakes in this department. There have been times where maybe I came off a little strong and turned good guys off. But we learn from practice and mistakes. I don’t treat it like the sprint I used to but more like a marathon.
Reveal yourself to someone slowly and in time, match their level of sharing and disclosure without telling your entire life story by the third date.
Express your needs and listen for your partner’s needs, too
I think we can all agree on the importance of healthy communication in dating relationships. Most people and relationship experts would say it is one of the most important things in making a good relationship great.
In dating, one practical way this looks is learning to express your needs in the relationship while listening to the needs of your partner. Your significant other is not a mind reader. In fact, none of us are! Learning to openly and honestly express our needs are ways to deepen your intimacy and grow in vulnerability together as a couple.
Expressing your needs while holding space for the needs of your partner is an excellent way to embrace healthy vulnerability in a new dating or serious relationship. Being honest about what you need builds trust, connection, and stretches you to grow together more.
If you are looking for something to really challenge yourself and make you think, I would recommend the TED talk with Dr. Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability!
Are there any other things you would from your experience of dating as a Catholic?