I Was Emotionally Available Until I Dated Way Too Many Guys Who Weren’t

When I first started dating, I was pretty much an open book. I found it easy to be vulnerable and to let a guy get close to me in dating because I was hopeful it would lead to love. Of course, it didn’t take long for relationships and heartbreak to ruin all that. It doesn’t feel good to be vulnerable with someone who doesn’t reciprocate and when you’ve been disappointed one too many times, it’s only natural that you start to put up walls. Here are the steps of the path that led to my dark spiral into emotional unavailability:

  1. At first, I was super sweet and honest. I didn’t know any better. I wanted to give all of myself to the person I loved. I was lucky enough that my first boyfriend was gentle with me. He, too, was sweet and vulnerable. We were very much in love with each other. Unfortunately, we grew up and grew apart.
  2. Then I got my heart broken. Trying to get over your very first heartbreak is the absolute worst. I felt like I would never recover. Even though I did, I was never the same afterward. I didn’t give myself over to guys as easily or as quickly. I made them work a little to get to know me because I didn’t want to get hurt again.
  3. Still, I always expressed myself openly. I’ve always been pretty good at verbal communication. When I’m dating someone, I want to talk through everything. How else can you work it out? I don’t understand trying to have a relationship without ever talking.
  4. I got super frustrated when they didn’t. I’ve dated guy after guy who couldn’t express their feelings. Either they were too lazy, didn’t care enough, were emotionally stunted, or literally had communication blocks. It’s the worst. I don’t understand how I, as an over-communicator, keep doing this to myself.
  5. I gave every single one of them my whole heart. Despite my initial caution, I always loved whoever I was with entirely. Even if I didn’t go there right away, I never made them feel bad or unwanted. I don’t consider it cool or intriguing when a guy treats me like I’m disposable so I’d never do that to him.
  6. A lot of them held back. Whether it was out of insecurity, bitterness, or cynicism, they weren’t giving back the same amount of affection that I was giving them. I was confused and then felt hurt and rejected. Some of them simply weren’t capable of breaking down their own walls, but it still sucked.
  7. Some of them were emotionally stunted. I can’t fix a man, but I sure do seem to try. I’m a victim of my own savior complex. I don’t know what my problem is, but I seem to attract men who can’t communicate whatsoever. Maybe it’s because I can do enough talking for both of us. That’s not what I want!
  8. Some didn’t know how to deal. I now know better than to ever date a guy who says I intimidate him. Insert eye roll here. If I intimidate you, what the hell do you want with me? I want a man who can keep up with me and who is excited by my strength, not scared by it. I definitely don’t want someone who curls up into a little ball when we have problems.
  9. Some just sucked at communicating. Sorry, but I have no patience for this anymore. I’m your girlfriend, not your therapist. If you have issues go work them out elsewhere. I refuse to play mommy to any man. I’m sorry that you can’t form sentences that make sense, but I can’t pull the words out of you or guess what you mean. It’s too exhausting.
  10. I started holding back to protect myself. Why would I keep giving and giving when I wasn’t getting anything back? It was just stupid. I decided I would see what they were willing to give first and then act accordingly. No more of this imbalance in relationships. Unfortunately, I wasn’t finding any open, vulnerable men.
  11. Why open myself up to hurt? I tried really hard to stay emotionally removed from guys, but all that really happened was I acted immaturely in relationships. I cared so much but pretended I didn’t. Stupid, childish crap, and yet there I was acting like a baby. It was like I regressed more every time I dated someone new.
  12. I didn’t want to give anyone more than I got. Dating turned into a game of sorts, and I hate playing games, thus I came to hate dating. It was all about who could protect themselves the best and who could hold out the longest on admitting their feelings. I got to the point where it freaked me out if a guy actually was emotionally mature.
  13. I shut down. After too many heartbreaks, I just gave up on finding love. I figured that I’m never going to meet the guy who gives me his whole heart as readily and happily as I’m willing to give mine. It sucks, but I honestly do feel that way now. I’m extraordinarily cynical when it comes to relationships.
  14. Now I don’t even know how to be vulnerable anymore. It feels like a skill I’ll have to relearn. I don’t even know if I can deal with the right guy if he ever comes along. I’m so guarded now that I don’t know how to let down my walls. It’ll be a problem, even for the most patient of men. I’m a lost cause.
  15. It’ll take a very special man to break down these walls. I’m out of practice in the art of vulnerability. Sure, I’m honest and open, but in a completely different way. I’ll tell just about anyone just about anything, but I deflect true vulnerability with sarcasm and humor. God forbid I show how I really feel. I hope that if my guy ever comes along, I don’t lose him the way all those previous men lost me.
A former actress who has always loved the art of the written word, Amy is excited to be here sharing her stories! She just completed her first novel, and is also a contributor for Elite Daily, Dirty & Thirty, and Thought Catalog. Amy is the founder of What If Journey and can be found on Twitter @amyhorton18. You can also visit her website at amyhorton.net.