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Have you been in a relationship, past or present with someone you feel connected to on a very deep level, but at the same time, there’s something missing?
I’m not talking spark or a flame, I’m talking, you feel a wall or that your loved one isn’t fully present. At first, you may believe it’s something else or it’s your imagination.
I’m also not describing the differences between men and women—it’s the feeling of being with someone who’s protecting themselves to such a degree that you receive very little emotionally in return.
Their words can say, “I love you, you’re my soulmate, you’re my one and only…” but there’s a closed door and no matter how hard you knock, you can’t come in.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together a month or years, when you have someone who says they’re present, but you feel them disappearing as they’re speaking—even engaging in passionate sex or just hanging out—don’t ignore it.
First, it isn’t up to you to break down the wall.
This person has been protecting themselves before you came in the picture. It isn’t a measurement if they care or not, it’s a statement of their fear.
For whatever reason, this person can’t feel safe, trust, or believe that it’s going to be okay if they let down their wall. They may be waiting for someone to come along who has the perfect shoe size for the slipper, before they’ll fully open their heart.
And if so, it’s a disappointment they set up with their relationships, so they continue to be an emotional lone wolf. It’s their story—they would rather live in, then to actually live. Not your problem to fix.
Second, it’s not an act of God or brute force that will open his or her heart.
Please know, this person can decide at any moment of any day to open up and connect, but do yourself a favor and don’t wait.
I’m not saying run, I’m saying take care of yourself. In taking care of yourself, one of three things will happen: you’ll leave, they’ll leave or they’ll decide now is the time to connect before they lose the best thing they ever found.
Third, ask yourself how open and vulnerable you are in this relationship?
Are you emotionally available? Or have you taken their inability to be emotionally present, personally? Perhaps that’s the role you play in relationships?
We can get quite used to the victim role, someone always being the perpetrator to our noble deeds. We have a society built on it, our music, movies, stories….they all revolve around the same triangle.
Fourth, communicate what it creates for you.
Meaning, don’t tell someone they’re wrong or how you’re victimized—it’s not a matter of getting angry. Blaming someone for something they may feel helpless to change, doesn’t entice them to open up. Does force, pleading or coercing ever work?
Communicate what you need in a relationship: “I need to feel my partner is in the trenches with me—are you aware that when I’m with you, I feel something missing?”
Communication can break through, if it’s compassionate, safe (be open) and there’s a willingness from both parties to move in a similar direction.
At the very least it will resolve one thing: it will allow you to speak authentically about how you feel, where you’re at and what you need.
And that will feel good. No matter what happens.
Fifth, get rid of the damn compartments.
There will be a future explosion or meltdown from the heavy emotional weight carried by living a compartmentalized existence.
The heart is not a compartment, it’s open, expansive and allows you to feel connected.
The mind, if allowed to run things, will compartmentalize your emotional life. It will put your heart under lock and key. “Ewww, I don’t like pain, loneliness or any negative emotional state, so I am going to focus on this TV show, contemplate my belly button or feed myself some other B.S. so I don’t have to look inside.”
Whoever is compartmentalizing, whether it’s one or both of you, it’s a horrible way to go through life. Numb. I suggest you start feeling today and get to know those scary places inside.
Sixth, disappointment happens.
Deal with it. Hard to do, right?
It’s never, ever about trusting the other person to not hurt us, let us down, cheat, lie, steal.
It’s about trusting ourselves to emotionally handle the disappointment. We believe if we trust someone else they now have the power to crush our world.
No one crushes our world unless we let them.
And many of us still take others actions personally, we make them accountable for our happiness.
Why do we do this? It’s not as though they passed a test, which makes them perfect. They’re still human and so are you. We all screw up.
Learn to trust yourself to handle the feelings of loss, grief, betrayal…you can do it, but first you may have to do a little spring cleaning on what is in your closet, which keeps you disconnected and afraid.
Remember, we’re mirrors for each other, so when you don’t feel that loving feeling, start with yourself and look at the reflection.
Bonus: How to fall in love with yourself:
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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger
Image: Henri Pham/Unsplash