How do I open up to someone?

Ever since my ex-boyfriend and I broke up, I can't seem to get close to anyone else. I know I'm completely over him, but I just can't break down my walls and let someone new into my life.

Lynda Martens
Lynda Martens
Marriage & Family Therapist, MSc, RP, RMFT

Hi Bend, You're scared, right? That makes sense. Each time we have a break-up we are a bit more in touch with how much is at stake in this whole love and relationship business. We are falling in love and letting someone close to our hearts and there's a vulnerability in that; we can get hurt. Who you partner with long-term is a big decision and it determines 90% of our happiness in life. 

The good news is that when we're just starting to get to know someone, we can take it slow. I think maybe you are slowing yourself down instinctively here, and that's okay. We are naturally people of attachment and it won't likely last if you are normally an open and accessible person who doesn't put up walls. So part of what I want to say here is don't pressure yourself too much. Take the time to heal naturally and listen to your instinct that is telling you to take things slow. :)

As well, there are a few things you can do to make sure that the walls do eventually come down, or will come down for the right person. 

First, think about the lessons you learned from this past relationship. What do you feel proud of? What do you need in a partner? What mistakes did you make? Use this experience to grow in your awareness of how you work in a relationship and what you need from a partner.

Look at your thoughts. Are you having generalized negative thoughts like "No one will ever love me again?", or "I'm going to get hurt again", or "I can't trust myself"? If so, write down what these thoughts are, and then ask yourself what evidence supports these thoughts. Fear tries to convince us that there is either something wrong with us or that something bad will happen, but it does so with little or no evidence of this ever happening!! It sells us a line based on no concrete evidence. Then ask yourself what evidence supports the opposite thought. What is the evidence that I am lovable... that there are safe, good people out there... that I can trust myself? Eliminate the negative thoughts, and add the positive ones. It's simple but very powerful.

Lastly, take concrete and careful steps to act as though there are no walls. What is the evidence of the walls? Can you take purposeful baby steps in the direction of lowering those walls? When we act as though something is true, we start to feel it and believe it more.

I hope you will find yourself back on track eventually, with time. :)

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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