Why Closing Yourself Off Is A Bad Idea, Even If You’ve Been Hurt

November 25, 2016 by Violet Benson

I was sitting here trying to write about how apps are ruining modern dating and how maybe it’s social media we have to blame until it dawned on me that maybe I’m the problem.

When I say that, what I mean is that I’ve had my heart broken so many times and I’ve become jaded as a result. I am so afraid of getting hurt that I end things before I get too attached to avoid disappointment. A good friend once told me that the best way to avoid heartbreak is to pretend that you don’t have a heart, and I may have taken his advice a little too seriously.

I first realized that I might be the problem the moment I noticed how often I have to apologize for my erratic behavior in a relationship. Whenever I start to have feelings for someone, I end up sabotaging the whole thing subconsciously. In no way do I find this funny, nor am I proud of my behavior. I am actually quite embarrassed by it. I tend to act up, overthink, pick fights, pursue other people, say things I don’t mean, and send mixed signals. Ultimately, my erratic behavior drives the other person away. I guess it’s just easier to push someone away than it is to deal with real emotions. The more I like someone, the more I push.

The funny thing about being self-protective—about avoiding real relationships and the feelings they come with—is that you still get hurt in the process. You also end up hurting your potential lover, which is probably even worse. Heartbreak is inevitable for everyone, but just because your heart is broken, doesn’t mean you need to break theirs too since you’re too confused or immature to figure out what to do with it.

I definitely have moments when I get scared that I am going to end up alone. I tell myself that maybe relationships aren’t for everyone. That maybe I just haven’t met my match. That my day will come. That right now it’s better to focus on my career. Deep down inside, though, I’m sad and worried that my time might never come.

Recently, I was hanging out with a couple friends in the entertainment industry. The three of us agreed that dating would be too distracting and that we’d rather be alone. But the truth is, there were three broken hearts in that room. Each of us had a pretty bad past relationship experience that left us wounded and closed off.

It makes perfect sense that every relationship is bound to fail—until you find the right person. But here I am, alone, sabotaging every relationship before it even starts, preventing myself from giving the right person a chance to show up.  

What is wrong with me!?

I write jokes about it, I laugh it off, I reassure myself about how great it is to be single. But all I secretly want is to come home to someone who loves me and wants to hear everything about my day.

Growing up, I didn’t have an emotional connection with my father. I wrote about the root of my “daddy issues” in my first blog post. There were so many moments when I wanted to hug him and tell him how much I loved him, but we just didn’t have that type of relationship and I was scared of rejection. I know it sounds stupid to feel scared of being rejected by your own father, but he just wasn’t the kind of dad who showed his emotions or welcomed them in return. He wasn’t raised that way, so neither was I.

When I was young, I had so much built up anger towards my dad. I would scream things like “I hate you” or “leave me alone” all the time, pushing him farther and farther away. What I probably meant to say, was:

Hey dad, I wish you would tell me that you love me more often. It’s almost been a year since you last said it. Yes, I keep track because you only say it once a year, on my birthday. I’m jealous that you’re always so proud of my sister and that you treat her differently. I know my sister is better than I am at everything, but I still need you to love me and reassure me that I’m enough just as I am. You’re always so hard on me and quick to point out my flaws. I know that’s your way of showing your love—by pushing me to be my best self—but dad, I’m just a kid and I really need you to hold me like I’m your little girl and love me back unconditionally. You’ve broken my heart so many times and I don’t know how much more I can take.

And there you have it. My first heartbreak happened long before I dated any guy. My dad broke my heart before anyone else did. He and I have since repaired our relationship, he’s my hero and I love him with all of my heart, my whole family is very close. We’ve gotten to the point where we no longer hold our feelings back, but it seems like I am still struggling. I have commitment issues, I’m terrified of rejection, and I get angry and/or push people away instead of saying how I truly feel about them.

But this blog isn’t about blaming anyone for how I turned out. This blog isn’t about asking for pity because daddy didn’t hug me enough growing up, or because my ex cheated on me.

No. The purpose of this blog is to say that I’ve had my heart broken a lot, but I’ve accepted my past and I finally feel ready to move on. This blog is about acknowledging what I’m doing wrong and explaining that I know why I’m still single. It’s about recognizing my flaws and pledging to work on myself. Most of all, it’s about sharing my experience because I hope that some of you will relate and maybe take a step forward in bettering yourselves as well.

It’s easier to blame your inability to accept love on an ex or a painful past relationship than it is to look inside yourself and face your demons. When I finally stopped blaming my ex and my father for my commitment issues and set aside my ego to take a long hard look at myself, I didn’t like what I saw. What I saw was an insecure girl who hadn’t yet learned how to love herself—who was clinging to the wrong guys and rushing into things just to fill a void. I saw a girl who wondered why anyone would like her because she didn’t always like herself. Letting someone in is scary. But when you close yourself off completely, you miss out on some amazing opportunities.

I believe that you truly grow up when you stop blaming others and start taking responsibility for the things that don’t work out in your life. In my case, there’s no reason to blame social media, online apps, my strict Russian upbringing, or any of my lame, unfaithful exes for the reason I’m still single.

Today, I am fully aware that until I change, my relationship status is destined to stay the same. I need to come to terms with the fact that I attract the wrong people and destroy my own chances at finding true love. I have to let go of the pain I am holding onto and forgive those who have wronged me because there is no longer any room in my heart for that kind of baggage. But first most of all, I need to work on myself and love myself before I can love anyone else.