Can Confidence and Vulnerability Co-Exist? I recently had an interesting discussion with a girlfriend about when it’s appropriate to show vulnerability, particularly in the context of male-female relationships. As women we are taught to play hard to get, don’t be needy, confidence is attractive, men love a chase, yadda yadda.Now, I’m totally down with the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach in certain situations. After all, that’s how I’ve been able to do things like meet Rob Thomas (multiple times) and walk on to an Adam Sandler movie set. I’ve probably landed a couple of jobs that way, too. Act confident, act like you belong, and make stuff happen.In relationships, though, I’m not sure I buy into that. Because here’s the problem: There’s a saying that “the consciousness that obtains sustains.” What this means is that if you acquire something through false pretenses, you have to maintain those false pretenses to keep it. For example, pretending you love all the same hobbies as your partner so they’ll like you might work initially, but how many baseball card shows do you really want to get dragged to?In my coach training program we were often asked to bring personal challenges to the table for coaching in front of the group. When my classmates were willing to get up there and be vulnerable, that’s when I developed the most respect and admiration for them. I find that when someone is brave enough to admit that they don’t always have it all figured out, that they too have worries and insecurities, it takes the pressure off the rest of us to be so darn perfect.Vulnerability is often misconstrued as “neediness” or “weakness”, but they are very different concepts. You can show vulnerability without being weak or needy. It’s simply a matter of shining some light on something that’s present, which in my experience is usually enough to release it. It’s just saying, “Hey, this what I’m experiencing right now, I want to honor that for the benefit of being authentic in this relationship. I’m cool with that and hopefully you are too.” It’s about being real. It gets stuff out of the way.Neediness is being unwilling to express your true feelings and desires, expecting the other person to be able to guess them, and then becoming frustrated because they can’t. Or on the flip side, voicing every doubt or insecurity that crosses your mind, which would become tiresome for anyone. Ultimately the responsibility for our emotional state is nobody’s but our own.I’ll even go as far as to say that it actually requires confidence to express vulnerability. In order to go there you have to be pretty comfortable with the fact that the other person might call you a lunatic and run for the hills. But if there’s any potential for a relationship to deepen in a sustainable way, you have to do that from the get go. If not confidence, at the very least it’s courage – which is equally admirable in my book – and it sure ain’t weakness. Plus, when someone shares vulnerability with me, I’m flattered by the trust.In my Making Fear My Bitch post, I talked about how being authentic and sharing your true self with people we care about can be one of the scariest things we do, because there’s always the risk that they might not be able to meet us there. Suzanne Evans refers to it as “showing your panties”, and I guess I’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist. You see, I personally find authenticity to be the doorway to developing the most meaningful connections with people, which to me is one of life’s nicest gifts.So, regardless of the rules, I’m willing to take one for the team.