Aidan had never met anyone like her.
His last girlfriend seemed to want one thing and one thing only: to have a big wedding. She invested in their relationship for a future payoff. So whenever Aidan let her down, he knew she would reassessing his suitability as a groom.
He was tired of having to hustle in relationships. Sometimes it felt to him like dating was a competition where you got scored on your performance. Each woman gave him marks out of 10, and if his score wasn’t high enough he was out.
Brooke wasn’t like that. She liked spending time with him. He knew she was wondering whether they’d end up in a committed relationship, but it didn’t feel as if she’d dump him if they didn’t get there fast enough.
He’d never had that feeling with anyone before. If he had to think of a word to describe it, he’d call it…
He felt safe with Brooke.
And he never wanted it to end.
Do You Have This Essential Relationship Ingredient?
When we think of what a romantic connection needs to thrive, we think of things like chemistry, attraction, and compatibility.
We don’t tend to think of safety.
Safety isn’t sexy. Surely it’s better to be edgy, or even a little bit dangerous!
But the kind of safety I’m talking about isn’t boring or bland.
It’s the kind of safety that helps men open up and relax into loving you.
It’s called emotional safety.
And men value it more than you’d think.
When he feels safe with you, he’s more honest. He talks to you instead of clamming up. He shares parts of himself he doesn’t usually share.
Your emotional connection blossoms. He feels like he can be himself with you. And that makes him want to see you more and more.
Why He Keeps His Guard Up
Even if you’re the nicest person in the world, a man you’ve just met isn’t necessarily going to feel emotionally safe with you.
Many men come into dating with their guard up. They’ll take a woman out on amazing dates, they’ll promise the moon, but they won’t open up emotionally.
Men feel a lot of pressure—from their upbringing, peers, culture, and environment—to perform. They don’t want to fail. They don’t want to make mistakes. They don’t want to let anyone down.
Unfortunately, the dating scene feeds that drive to perform. Dating apps are set up to foster a sense of competition. It’s about winning or losing, and men quickly learn that losers don’t get a second date.
Any man you meet has probably felt judged so often that he expects you to judge him, too. So he shows up on the date with the mentality that he has to perform. He has to impress you.
No wonder you leave the date feeling like you never really connected.
How do you help him feel emotionally safe enough to let you in?
3 Tips to Create Emotional Safety
It would be great if you could show up on a date and tell a guy, “Hey, it’s okay. You don’t have to impress me. You can just be yourself.”
Sadly, it doesn’t work that way!
He doesn’t want you to see any parts of him that might make you judge him and decide you don’t want to see him again.
So the first tip to creating emotional safety is this:
When he tells you things, listen to the meaning behind the words. What is he trying to convey? You might think of yourself as an investigative reporter, more interested in understanding his perspective than criticizing it.
Men are just as terrified of rejection as women are. They hide it well, but no one likes being rejected.
That’s why he feels so great around someone who isn’t trying to force him into the box of their expectations.
When he tells you something you don’t want to hear—maybe he doesn’t have the job, or the education, or the lifestyle you’re looking for—how do you react?
Do you feel a hit of disappointment? Do you immediately cross him off your list?
Or do you recognize that there may be more to the story?
As many happily married women will attest, Mr. Right never looks exactly how you thought he’d look.
Men know that the women they meet have relationship goals.
But sometimes it can feel like those goals overshadow the connection.
As Aidan found out, it’s not fun to feel as if you’ve been slotted into someone else’s life plans.
We feel emotionally safe with people who care about enjoying life together in the present, not just as a part of a future plan to achieve a certain relationship status.
The men you meet may not be relationship material. But that doesn’t mean you can’t care about them as people. To care for someone simply means to want the best for them.
Now, caring for someone doesn’t mean putting them first. Acceptance doesn’t mean you’ll agree. Non-judgment doesn’t mean you won’t have an opinion.
It does no good if he feels emotionally safe and you don’t.
Look for men who don’t judge you, who accept you, and care for you as a person. They’re worth knowing.