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Why Might You Be Attracted to "Blunt" Communicators?

How to protect yourself from straightforwardness that stings.

Key points

  • If you're repeatedly drawn to blunt individuals, reflect on past patterns that might influence their appeal.
  • When engaging with candid individuals, pay attention to how they respond to your feedback or discomfort.
  • Evaluate communication dynamics between you and your blunt person to determine what's healthy for you.
Source: Pixabay/F1Digitals

If you're drawn to blunt people but feel hurt, stressed, or confused by their candor, see if any of the following fits.

  • You’ve repeatedly been in relationships with people who communicate indirectly (e.g., passive-aggressively, or they seem to demand that you mind-read their thoughts and wants). You desire easier, more straightforward communication.
  • You’re not well-practiced (yet) at effective communication skills. Bluntness seems better than what you’ve experienced thus far.
  • You want someone else to take charge who is not you. Sometimes it’s nice to have a person who seems self-assured and in control. Blunt communicators often seem that way: an authority.
  • You have experienced the past trauma of being voiceless, choiceless, or verbally abused. We, human beings, tend to recreate familiar dynamics to a lesser degree. And someone super blunt can feel attractively familiar; their communication style can emulate aspects of historical patterns.
  • You have low self-worth or self-esteem. Someone seemingly straightforward feels possibly more reliable or trustworthy than you. They feel safe.
  • You greatly value truth and honesty. Both are of topmost importance to you. Blunt communication might seem synonymous with honest communication.

I've been a therapist for 17 years, and I've noticed that any of the above can leave people vulnerable to being drawn to blunt communicators. If one or more of the above describes your situation, please don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, curiosity about what draws you to straightforwardness will probably most support you. We’re all learning and growing.

Now that we've looked at some of the magnetism of directness, let's talk about the pitfalls.

Potential pitfalls

Bluntness is usually a declaration of one's opinion, often presented as a fact. It can shut down dialogue, as it doesn’t elicit a reply or indicate an interest in what the other has to say. In many cases, bluntness disregards social norms of politeness.

There are instances where directness is valued (e.g., when there's a preference for unpadded honesty over polite softening or lies). However, excessive straightforwardness might indicate inflexibility, self-importance, or manipulation. Particularly those who actively boast of their bluntness ("I'm a blunt person; I call it like I see it"-type statements) may use it to assert power, avoid empathy, or control situations, potentially causing confusion or harm to others.

My prior article, "Is the 'Blunt' Person in Your Life Gaslighting You?" provides more straight talk about the dynamics of bluntness. Those can range from nice to narcissistic.

How to decode whether your person’s bluntness is working for you

If you’re in a relationship with someone blunt, take note of if and when that hurts you, stresses you out, or feels uncomfortable. Then, if you share your experience, does your person:

● Take ownership and make amends about how they delivered their thoughts?


● Try to understand your experience?

Or do they verbally strike you with something like, “Well, I told you I’m blunt,” as if your discomfort or hurt feelings have zero to do with them? (Yes, this can be seen as an example of the pop term “gaslighting," or even emotional abuse in some cases.)

Eventually, with enough data-collecting like the above, you’ll be able to assess whether the relationship hurts too often and too much to be the positive experience you’d hoped it would be. Still, if the dynamics of bluntness in your relationship feel confusing, talk to a friend, a therapist, a pastor, or someone else you trust and who has your best interest at heart. Bluntness can be to your benefit, or it can hover around mistreatment, insult, or abuse.

The wrap-up

Bluntness can seem attractive, initially promising direct, clear communication. And when done skillfully and with empathy, it can make good on that promise. However, bluntness is too often executed unskillfully and inconsiderately, thus harming the recipient (you) unnecessarily.

I know a lot of straightforward people who thoughtfully employ their straight shooting. Personally, I believe that with work, there’s a sweet spot between hurtful straightforwardness and indirect communication or polite fibs. I still work daily on my communication skills because I transitioned from seeking bluntness to, as a therapist, often having to provide potentially upsetting information to people. There are ways to communicate with honesty, directness, and care all at the same time.

For those attracted to straight shooters, you matter. Your well-being matters. Learning to protect yourself from bluntness that burns you will benefit you. Self-help books or a therapist might help you get there quicker than the pains of trial and error.

This article is for informational purposes and does not provide therapy or professional advice.

More from Alli Spotts-De Lazzer, MA, LMFT, LPCC, CEDS-S
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