“Remember those walls I built, well baby they’re tumblin’ down…” Beyoncé
“I’m guarded.” It’s a phrase singles and commitment-phobes use liberally and unfortunately inaccurately to explain why they’re single. It’s an excuse and not a very good one. I hate to break the news to you but “I’m guarded,” is not the reason you’re single. You feel guarded, you have a wall up, you can’t get close to people and you’re afraid of getting hurt. This is common. We would all like to love with reckless abandon but we can’t because of that one relationship, with that one asshole, that one time.
I’m convinced that people who put walls up don’t really understand how walls work.
Walls don’t protect you from hurt. Walls keep love out and that’s it. Walls protect our egos, the person we want to believe that we are, not our hearts. If you’re guarded it’s because you believe that you’re something you are not and you are fighting to maintain that image your ego has made.
Yes its true, guarded people have huge egos. Brick by brick you have to start to dismantle those barriers and start living and dating. More importantly loving. So how do you break down your walls and begin to date freely?
ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
Before you can ask for what you want, you have to know what you want. If someone admits to being painfully shy and scared that doesn’t absolve them from having desires. You know what you want out of your love life so ask for it.
What you want has to trump how you don’t want to feel.
First, begin to ask for what you want from yourself. Start by giving yourself demands. If you want to be kinder, more open, more outgoing and courageous then slowly begin to ask yourself to take those risks. Keep asking yourself for what you want until you give into yourself and finally do it. Often times we accept the status quo. We believe that things will never change, and that the past predicts our future. We assume that we will always be denied or rejected. We believe, most detrimentally, that if others really knew us they wouldn’t like us. This is not the case. Even if it were true, this isn’t what you want.
If you want to be accepted then begin to ask for it. Ask to be included, instead of thinking, “If they wanted me there they would invite me.”
Ask to be counted. Don’t wait for others to choose you. Don’t date with an ‘I’ll take what I can get’ attitude. Learn to ask for what you want and start with yourself.
LEARN TO SAY NO
In relationships I used to give political and ambiguous answers when asked tough questions. I would meander, I would talk in circles, and I would bullshit. When I learned to simply say yes or no and stop explaining I found that I could get my point across a lot easier.
Walls protect us from having to share the back story. If we never get asked the question then we don’t have to explain the answer. You never have to explain the answer. No is a complete sentence. Learning to say yes, no and I don’t want to talk about it can be critical in dating.
Walls are the way that we hide from other people. Sometimes we’re afraid to answer straightforward questions so we avoid getting close to anyone who might ask. This also absolves from having to ask the tough questions as well.
“Do you like me?”
“Do you want a relationship?”
“Why are you single?”
“How many people have you slept with”
Communication can be done by learning to own your No’s and Yes’s.
It takes practice and discipline but a wall isn’t necessary. If you have a traumatic experience in your past, or you’re ashamed of your story then you don’t have to share it. Own your ability to say yes and no instead of keeping walls up to avoid the question.
CHOOSE LOVE NOT FEAR
Dating can be scary and love; terrifying yet we’re all going to do it at some point. Instead of avoiding what scares you do more of what delights you. What I know about dating and love is that you can’t predict how someone will hurt you. Just when you think you’ve protected yourself from every possible hurt, and put every wall into place someone will come along and shatter your world.
Walls don’t work because we need to express love. It is our right and our purpose. You will find some way to express love no matter how much you fight it and it will eventually hurt you but it will also heal you. A wall blocks love from coming in and more importantly going out. Without that expression of love you’re crippling yourself. Be courageous enough to express love and shine your light. The world needs it.
Single men and women can find very creative ways to keep others out. We build walls because we’re afraid to feel unwanted feelings. We’re afraid that the good feelings won’t last and we’re scared that we can be hurt. Sure you can control your emotions by keeping your wall up but what type of life is that?
Successful dating is about getting people to want to get to know you and then letting them in. You may have walls up because you don’t want to be judged or rejected but you just can’t live running from pain. The only way to date successfully is to pursue pleasure, pure pleasure and only date the people you think can give that to you. And anyone who can should be welcomed.