Do you hold back when you’re with your partner?
This holding back might be most obvious when you and your partner are talking about a difficult issue, one that is sensitive for you.
Perhaps you aren’t completely honest with your mate about how you really feel because, on some level, you worry about what the reaction will be. You aren’t intending to hide your true thoughts and feelings, but it’s either what you’re used to doing or it’s what seems most comfortable to you at the time.
The trouble with holding back in this way is that you’re setting yourself up for even more distance in your relationship.
Because you’ve closed your partner out by hiding what you really want or how you truly feel, he or she will not have accurate information about you. Your partner will be saying and doing things that go along with what you said…not with what you actually want.
This can lead to all kinds of disappointment, misunderstanding and dissatisfaction– for both of you.
If, at some point, your mate finds out that you weren’t upfront about your true feelings and thoughts, this will erode trust. He or she will wonder what IS true for you and whether or not you are trustworthy.
You might also hold back when you and your partner are sexually intimate with one another. You could have very good reasons for this.
If, for example, you’ve been hurt in the past– especially if you are a survivor of sexual abuse or rape– your natural defenses might cause you to keep what feels like a safe distance between you and your partner. There could be a part of you that emotionally steps back and possibly even “leaves” your body when you are with your partner making love.
Even if you aren’t an abuse or rape survivor, you might hold back when it comes to intimacy because you were hurt or betrayed in the past. The sense of vulnerability that goes along with intimacy, combined with the desire to not get hurt again can lead to holding back.
Again, the results are dissatisfaction and distance.
Opening your heart is essential if what you want to create is a satisfying and close love relationship or marriage.
Notice where you hold back.
Figure out what your tendency is. In what ways do you usually close down to your partner?
Take the perspective of an observer for a couple of days as you interact with your partner. In what specific ways to do you shut down and emotionally or physically “step back” and away from the one you love?
Yes, your partner probably closes down to you too at times. There might even be things that your mate does that triggers you and seems to make you “step back.” Notice this too, but focus in on what you do and on the thoughts and feelings you have.
Making note of what you learn in a private journal can helpful in this self-discovery.
Heal your past.
In the majority of cases, when a person is not opening his or her heart to a partner, it’s because of some past pain that’s yet to be healed. Looking back at your past is not always fun, comfortable or pleasant. But, when you find ways to heal and release the past, it can be positively transformational to your relationship and life.
Think back or read over what you wrote in your journal about where you usually hold back. Are there similarities between this type of situation and anything in your past that is may still cause you pain or irritation?
We do not recommend that you re-hash every detail of what happened when you were hurt or betrayed. We do suggest that you acknowledge that you are still carrying around beliefs and possibly traumatic memories that are negatively impacting your current relationship.
Get help from a professional therapist or coach if your painful past seems too overwhelming to deal with by yourself.
Come up with a plan that will allow you to make some peace with what happened in your past– possibly forgiving those involved (including yourself). Take those first steps to follow through with your plan and get the healing started.
Re-teach yourself to trust.
What healing your past will do is to help you open up to your partner through trust. Honor that fact that, in the past, there was probably a valid reason why you decided it was unsafe to trust.
As you are releasing your past, make a conscious effort to focus in on what’s true in the present moment with your partner.
Re-teach yourself that it is safe to trust your mate. Of course, we want you to be wise about this. If you have reliable information that tells you not to trust your partner, take this under serious consideration and get more information so you can make decisions.
Look at the observable actions of your partner and use those to prove to yourself that it is okay to trust again. The more you trust your partner and your own judgment, the easier it will be for you to open up your heart.