Protections Lead to Distant Relationships
“I’m stuck. I want to be close to my boyfriend, but I have been burned by men in the past, and I’m afraid to emotionally let go and permit myself to fall in love,” writes Jenny A. from San Diego. “Josh is a wonderful man. He’s bright, good-looking, charming, educated, affluent, witty and sensitive. He’s trying hard to win me, and acts as if he really cares about me.”
“I’ve got a lot of defenses up in order to protect myself from being hurt again, like I did four years ago. I don’t make a lot of time for him, I’m not making him a priority, and I am stingy with showing affection. I sometimes make up excuses in order to avoid being with him.”
“I want to fall in love again, but I’m scared to. It’s safer for me to protect myself. I won’t get hurt again.”
What do you do in order to avoid intimacy? How do you escape, put off the other person and withdraw your energy from the relationship? What priorities do you give your relationship vs. other areas of your life? Do you approach your intimate relationships with the attitude that you are going to get your needs met and be nurtured, or of protecting yourself from getting hurt?
Some of the ways that we emotionally shut down and protect ourselves from other people are by using up our time, energy and life forces on other priorities, such as work, partying, hobbies, illnesses, shopping, T.V., children, eating, entertaining, worrying reading, sports, friends, sleeping, fantasizing, day dreaming and drugging/drinking.
Do you tell yourself any of the following statements about being indifferent, insulated or emotionally armored towards others?
- I can shut down and still enjoy life and have intimacy
- My indifference will protect me from feeling pain
- My indifference doesn’t hurt anyone
- I can avoid problems and conflicts by becoming indifferent
- Being indifferent does not lower my self-esteem
- It’s better to be shut down and to withdraw than to reach out and risk rejection
For the record, all of the above statements are false. Acting indifferent allows you to avoid other people, as well as your own emotions. It therefore leaves you withdrawn from other people and disconnected from yourself.
When you act emotionally protected, you feel deadened and indifferent, and your self-esteem lessens. You may devote all you time to achieving material success, which never gives you real joy, and your relationships become unsatisfying, disappointing and unfulfilling.
Some of the negative consequences of self-protections are:
- Your sex is infrequent and/or boring, with no passion or love
- Your relationship is boring or routine, with little excitement or intensity
- There is a feeling of distance between you and your partner
- You feel unloved and/or insecure about your partner’s love
- You feel unloving
- There is a lack of satisfying communication
- You and your partner don’t have much fun together
- You feel resistant, rebellious and resentful a lot of the time
- Your partner is often resistant, rebellious and resentful
- You don’t feel valued
- You have difficulty in connecting with others
- You feel alone and isolated
- You feel tension, fear, anxiety, frustration, anger and guilt
- You feel depressed, deadened, apathetic, sad and bored
- You lack joy
- You feel powerless
The above ideas were taken from Margaret and Jordon Paul’s book Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You? It would be wise for you to explore what you would need in order to feel safe, while giving your relationship an honest chance.