When do you feel most vulnerable in dating?

He’s just not that into youRecently I’ve been feeling sort of vulnerable regarding the guy I’ve been seeing. He doesn’t call every day and if more than a few days pass, I begin to feel he’s gone “poof” like so many men before him. I could call him — and I have — but know that He’s Just Not That Into You says if he doesn’t call regularly, it can be a yellow flag.

It made me think of when many women feel vulnerable in dating.

  • Immediately upon meeting a new guy — Most of us go through a little uncomfortableness immediately upon meeting a new guy as we want him to like us. We are told that men are visual, so if he doesn’t like how we look, then the date can be awkward. In fact, it can be painful if the guy has few social skills and tells you quickly through his words or behavior that he’s not attracted to you.
  • After the first date when you want him to call — If you like him and want him to call, the next 24 hours can be excruciating until either he calls, you get distracted by other activities, or you give up on his calling. You can invest in a lot of emotion waiting for this call. Sometimes to head off agonizing you call him, although you know that is often not the best route. Even though some men like a woman making the next move, many see it as needy.
  • Immediately after having sex for the first time — There’s a physiological chemical release during sex and women often become more emotionally attached to their partner. If the guy understands this, it can lead to wonderful cuddling and conversation. However, if he doesn’t, the woman can feel alone and abandoned.
  • Within days of the first time having sex — For many, the first time is a sexual audition. If he says, “I’ll call you” and he doesn’t within the next 48 hours, she often feels she didn’t pass and feels rejected.
  • When you’re not sure where you stand — You’ve been dating for a little while, yet there’s been no sign that he thinks you two could be a steady relationship. He keeps calling you periodically to ask to get together, but you’re not sure if it’s out of loneliness or if he’s into you. He continues to go online (you can see when he last logged on — today!), so you think he must not be completely satisfied with you.

Does this list match your experiences of vulnerable times? If not, what should I add? And when do you think men feel most vulnerable?

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12 responses to “When do you feel most vulnerable in dating?”

  1. Gatti Avatar

    Good topic again, DG. The answer for me is: pretty much all the time. After an unpleasant experience (e.g. lovely call on Christmas Eve, made plans for next call, meeting, etc., then got email on Christmas Day morning – ouch! – breaking everything off, then see him every day logging into site), I do not take *anything* for granted. Nothing. My goal is to take each meeting, call, text message, whatever, as charming in itself, but not an indication of more coming, until such time as more comes.

    That said, it doesn’t stop me from checking my mailbox when I think a message might be coming in.

    Maybe because these are Englishmen things are more naturally reserved. I’ve certainly not had the experiences you’ve had with them coming on so strong on the first meetings. I haven’t made it to sex yet with anyone (heck, I haven’t made it past the second date yet with anyone!!), but having been rather badly treated in my last relationship by a verbal abuser, I’m not about to rush into anything until I’ve seen the guy enough times to feel that I know his personality well enough to continue into something more serious.

    Right now one I like very much seems to be fading out (a long shot, to be sure, as he lives in another country, but the contact has become a bit distant and somewhat secretive), another is fun on occasional phone calls but writes one sentence emails that frustrate me, a couple are quite keen to see me again but I don’t feel any spark with them (though they are very nice and were the only ones who paid for lunch), one has a lot on his plate with moving house at present so that’s on hold though he seems keen as well, and a couple are moving up the ranks after first email contact.

    And a very special one will be met for the first time in a couple of weeks. But all bets are off until it’s seen there is face-to-face chemistry.

    Vulnerable? All the time! But I try to resist it and get on with things. It sometimes works…

  2. Mitsy Avatar

    It’s hard to not be vulnerable. If you think you might care about a guy and he acts like he cares about you, it’s almost too late to say that you won’t be hurt if things don’t work out. I think after the first initial date is a critical time. If there truly seems to be chemistry, then a woman is left wondering if a 2nd date is not planned soon. Sometimes they continue to call and show interest while not really getting on with things.

    I finally sent an e-mail to the one guy I was corresponding with and had one date with asking him basically about his intentions. Apparently, that has worked because he’s now calling me everyday, although we live 2 hours from each other. A 2nd date seems to be apparent and he’s made it clear that he wants to see me. However, I’m not counting on anything at this point.

  3. bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    Wow, this piece really hit the sore spot. Some months ago I became very attracted to a guy at work. One thing led to another and we did the deed. After that he never called me, even though he promised he would. Wouldn’t you know, the lying scum is married? (He told me he was divorced and I believed him – I guess that shows just how stupid I can be).

    Needless to say, I’m Googling everyone from here on out…

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  4. Dating Goddess Avatar



    I, too, Google everyone, but unfortunately it is very hard to find personal info. While I’ve found out men’s home address and phone number and clubs he belongs to, I’ve never found anything about their marital status. I’ve heard some people buy an investigative report, but I think you need their birthday and/or Social Security number (if in the US).

    The way I discovered a guy was married (before meeting him, which I then didn’t) was through networking with friends who worked at the same company.

  5. Elena Avatar

    Yes, your list pretty much matches what I would say are my most vulnerable moments, particularly the first two. That whole meeting for the first time and waiting for the phone call or email after the first face-to-face meeting are excruciating.

    Last week I had a first (and last) coffee date with a guy who was super gung ho and excited about meeting. During the time that we had been communicating by email, he had already come up with a nickname for me (yeah, I know) and was emailing me poetry. I got cold feet before the first meeting and cancelled, telling him that I was turned off by how personal he was becoming with a complete stranger and that I felt like he had expectations that more than likely weren’t going to be met. He apologized and said that he was acting that way because he could sense that I was someone very special and he was excited about the prospect of just merely meeting me. He also noted that he found me very mysterious because I wasn’t sharing much info about myself. That was all in the vein of my trying to maintain some distance before meeting.

    Anyway, I agreed to have coffee with him last week at Starbucks after he emailed me saying that he had no lofty expectations and that he wanted to be friends. He seemed genuine in his email and I thought, why not. It’s only coffee. I arrived 15 minutes early so that I could be comfortable and not be the one looking around the place for him. Anyway, when we met I could see it in his eyes IMMEDIATELY that he was disappointed. That look made the coffee date very awkward for me. It sucked because I was the one who wasn’t all that gung ho about meeting and yet I am the one who was made to feel less than worthy. Blech. Men, you need to do a better job of masking your disappointment.

    At the end, he told me to call him if I ever wanted to “hang out.” Huh? I stifled a laugh. This was coming from the same guy who before meeting had given me a nickname, based on something I wrote in my profile, and had been chomping at the bit to meet. I’m proud to say that I told him right there “thanks but no thanks,” that it was obvious there wasn’t any mutual interest, so thanks for meeting for coffee and future good luck on Match.

    Regarding men’s vulnerable moments, it’s probably after they’ve sent what they hope was a witty, charming introductory email in response to a woman’s ad. Especially if they put some thought into crafting a short, personal note, I’m sure that waiting period, wondering if the woman is going to respond or not, is a vulnerable moment for some men. If they don’t have a picture posted and they email the photo to a woman who has requested to see it before continuining the email communication, that is probably another touchy moment for men. Also, they probably feel vulnerable before the first kiss and the first time they get naked with a woman, but only if it is with a woman that they are really interested in.

    Male DG readers, what are your thoughts?

  6. Dating Goddess Avatar


    I have been where that guy was — having a strong connection with someone via online and phone conversations that I assumed more intimacy than there was. So I don’t fault him, although your story says it was only a one-way connection, when I’ve felt it coming from the guy as well. (But we all know I can live in a fantasy world!)

    Your comment “yet I am the one who was made to feel less than worthy” made me think of Eleanor Roosevelt’s great line, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” You are not less than worthy, as I know you well know. He just wasn’t drawn to you. It doesn’t mean you are in any way less than worthy. Next!

    So while it is difficult to endure a conversation with someone who clearly isn’t into you, aren’t you glad you agreed to only coffee, rather than lunch or dinner? Imagine enduring that for hours!

  7. ER Avatar

    I don’t really feel vulnerable getting naked in front of a woman, but I do feel vulnerable the first time I have to ‘do the deed’, as Bookyone so nicely put it.

    I don’t feel vulnerable going for the first kiss, but I really really really feel extremely vulnerable when if I’m waiting for a reply on an online dating site. All it takes is for me to receive a few rejections on the same day to blow my confidence and morale for a few weeks. In the end I had to stop online dating as I found it too hard on my ego.

    If it’s true that women feel vulnerable after doing the deed due to a ‘physiological chemical release’, then I’d contend that men experience something similar.

    I think that men experience a chemical release that either shouts out to them ‘run’, or ‘stay’. Unfortunately while dating and not yet in a relationship, men more often than not experience the ‘run’ chemical. Our behaviour seems to confirm this.

  8. Dating Goddess Avatar


    Thanks for sharing. I would have never guessed that waiting for an online response would be so nerve wracking!

    And what do you think contributes to when you (or men) decide to run vs. stay?

  9. Elena Avatar

    Thanks for the encouraging words and for reminding me of that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. That’s a keeper!

  10. Mitsy Avatar

    I also have a problem with men who seem too eager or too familiar before they’ve even met me. That was a bit of the problem with the one guy I finally told that we could go out as friends but I could not guarantee anything more.

    I was totally turned off by his physical appearance, but we had had a few good conversations on the phone. You really do not know for sure until you meet someone. I do believe it’s best if you at least have a photo of the person or have some idea of what they look like, but in my case, the guy did not look like his photo and I was pretty disappointed at his protruding gut and overall appearance. I could not imagine getting close to him, so that was my que to not drag things out or lead him on–something I’m totally against.

    I think caution is important for both people before you meet someone. Getting too chummy via phone or e-mail is a fine line to walk because the other person may look nothing like you imagined and it’s even more awkward trying to pretend that you are not let-down upon meeting. The online dating forums encourage meeting as soon as possible so you don’t waste your time e-mailing &/or phoning without knowing there is a connection in person. I personally want a little time communicating before I meet someone, but I also believe that it’s important to meet and know if you want to see them again.

  11. Aggressively Single Avatar
    Aggressively Single

    Well, I don’t feel very vulnerable initially. I enjoy dating and when I’ve only had a few dates I guess I don’t feel like I’ve invested much and don’t care as much if it doesn’t work. For me, I feel very vulnerable when I start to get more attached, maybe after dating 2 months or so. Once I start revealing more of myself, really care if it ends, and know it will be harder to replace, I feel pretty vulnerable.