One of my best guy friends, Matt, was set up on a date with Sarah by his Aunt.
Sarah looked up Matt on Facebook and Matt looked up Sarah, and they were both interested in being introduced, so Matt’s Aunt made that happen.
Matt made the first move and texted Sarah asking if she would like to hop on the phone as a way to first get to know one another.
She texted back saying that would be great, and they were set to to talk on Thursday of that week.
That Thursday Sarah texted Matt saying she couldn’t talk with him that night because she had way too much work and needed to focus on that.
Matt understood but was disappointed because he was looking forward to the phone call.
Throughout the following week Matt stayed in touch via text with Sarah, but she seemed to not be that responsive.
She would always answer his questions, but didn’t seem curious to ask him questions back about his life. Nor was she engaging in a flow of conversation with him.
All of this had Matt start questioning if Sarah was truly interested in getting to know him.
They finally connected for a phone date and spoke for about one hour.
Matt had called me earlier that day to let me know they were going to speak. I told him to call me afterwards, because I wanted to hear all about it.
He called me right after they hung up.
I asked, “How did it go?”
He kind of paused and said “Ummm it was okay she just seemed really guarded and closed off.”
I asked, “What did she say that gave you that impression?”
He said, “I was trying to be more vulnerable and talk about some deeper things, to really see if there was a connection, things you have told me to say in the past.
Halfway through the call I asked her when her last relationship was and she responded by saying that she was not comfortable talking about it because she barely knew me. She also said that maybe after the first couple of dates she’d be happy to tell me.”
Matt shared with me that her response confused him, he was aware that they barely knew each other but thought that the whole point of talking was to get to know one another better.
Matt continued by sharing, “It just felt heavy like she put up a wall and shut me out. I wasn’t asking for a whole history. I even shared when my last relationship was to be more open before I asked her to open up. But that didn’t seem to make her feel comfortable.
It was just a turn off, and on top of that it felt like I was trying to pull out information about her life, versus it feeling natural and like she wanted to get to know me too.”
I said to Matt, “It makes sense why the call just felt ‘okay’. You opened up and were ready to let her in to see if there was a connection, and she just wasn’t willing to open up, and that doesn’t feel good.
That kind of exchange can leave you feeling like you’re wasting your time and energy putting in the effort to explore a connection with someone who can’t meet you halfway.”
Matt said, “Exactly!”
Then I asked, “Do you think you will talk to her again?”
Matt said, “I don’t think so.”
I have to admit Matt’s experience is very common for both men and women, where one person is trying to open up and the other shuts down or closes off in some way.
And this doesn’t just happen if you’re dating or single, this happens in committed relationships and marriages where two people have been together for years and even decades.
We all have blocks or walls we’ve created to love, as a way to protect ourselves from getting hurt, disappointed or from feeling pain in someway.
These blocks were created when we were younger, as a result of disappointments, hurt or pain that we felt with our parents or those that raised us. Yes it goes all the way back there!
Truth is you could have the closest most amazing relationship with your parents, or those that raised you, and you still have some pain, hurt, or anger towards them around the way they misunderstood you or didn’t love you in exactly the way you wanted or needed when you were younger.
Every single person on the planet has developed blocks to love. No one is without.
And it’s healthy to be tapped into these emotions about how you felt with your parents or those that raised you (no parent is perfect and every child can feel that even if your parents did the best they could) and to recognize where they come from, so that you can begin to identify the patterns you are having in love today. The situations where you begin to shut down, close off, or place up walls.
Because here’s the thing. Without going there and releasing some of this pain that is causing so many of our fears in love today, you’re stuck in a state of protection. In that state your ability to allow love and connection gets cut off.
For example, let’s assume from Matt’s experience above, that Sarah wasn’t ready to date (this could be one possible reason for why she was putting up walls). But what Sarah missed out on was getting to know a pretty amazing guy, and at the very least, having a connected and fulfilling conversation.
Simply being open could have resulted in a date that she would have been surprised by, or clarity that she just wasn’t ready to date yet. Either way, she lost an opportunity to connect and become aware of what she really wants.
When we put up these walls, we rob ourselves from connecting with others. We keep ourselves from receiving the love that we are being showered with even in a short interaction with a stranger.
With people we have known for a long time, often walls can go up even faster, because you already have a judgement or idea of who the person is and how they will interact with you.
So next time you feel this happening…
When you feel your walls going up or if they are always up with certain people, notice them. See how you have created a barrier to connection with this person. Nothing new can be realized if you’ve already decided who they are and so there is no space for them to show up differently.
As we are interacting with strangers, family, and friends during this holiday season, make it a practice to catch when you put up a wall or cut off a connection.
Also, notice when you give yourself permission to take the wall down (which is all in your control). And then be sure to celebrate what you start to create or change within this new way of interacting.
So, tell me in the comments below, what are the ways you put up walls within your relationship, with men, or with those closest to you?