5 Ways You Subconsciously Close Your Heart To Love

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One of the most surprising revelations I had is when the still, small voice inside of me said that I was using makeup as a way of not allowing myself to be vulnerable. What? Like, my foundation is keeping my partner away?

It was the start of summer, and I was walking along the ocean, praying for guidance as far as how to release the blocks in my relationship. The still, small voice responded, You think you need to look perfect. You think that if you look perfect, someone will love you. You’re unwilling to show the real you. You think you need to earn love.

The truth was that I was a perfectionist, and I did rush to apply makeup after getting out of the shower. Thinking I needed to look and be perfect in order to be worthy of love was an unconscious script that I was unaware of up until that moment.

When you are in a relationship or dating, there are two scripts running in tandem: the conscious thoughts you’re aware of, and the unconscious thoughts and fears that drive you, but you don’t realize this until you get quiet and look inward. 

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In other words: You’re closing your heart to potential partners in ways that you can’t even imagine and self-sabotaging relationships. Your inability to be vulnerable and let people in manifests in quirky ways that are easy to miss if you’re not present.

That being said, here are 5 surprising ways you might be closing your heart:

1. There are certain things you're unwilling to share

Your past. Your family. Your dreams. The list goes on and on.

You expect your partner, or date, to be open and honest, but there are certain topics that are off the table, as far as you’re concerned. You’ll open up about work, or your friendships, but when your date asks about your family, you say it’s complicated.

You have a secret dream of being a singer, but you don’t trust your partner enough to tell him. You had a horrible day, but when your partner calls, you fake a pleasant tone and tell him that everything is fine.

Every time you are unwilling to share something with your partner, or potential partner, it creates distance in your relationship. If you want an emotionally mature relationship, you have to be willing to open your heart, which means sharing your truths.

This is not to say you should turn your first date into a confession, but rather, that when the instinct to close your heart and shut down arises, ask yourself if not sharing that thing will bring you closer to this person, or create even more distance.

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2. You don't want to communicate anything negative

It’s easy to tell your partner how great he is, but it requires a whole other level of spiritual and emotional maturity to tell him that you’re experiencing feelings of frustration or anger because of something that he did or said. It can feel unsafe to share negative emotions, and while it’s easy to talk to other people — your mom, best friend, or co-worker — it takes a lot more maturity to discuss issues with your date, or partner.

Out of habit, you don’t share when you’re upset, and because of this, resentment starts to build within you. You close your heart. Your partner reaches over to hug you and you pull away. You send a curt text. He asks if anything is bothering you, and you reply, No. I’m fine.

Here’s the key: the moment you want to shut down and withhold your feelings is the exact moment that you need to become aware of this pattern and break it. Speak up, and do it in a loving, calm way; this is how you can deepen the connection you have with your partner.

3. You're still seeking elsewhere

A cute coworker passes by your desk, and you bat your eyelashes and wonder why you chose to wear cement-colored slacks and an ill-fitting sweater. You put out flirtatious energy because people say it’s not only harmless, it’s natural.

You don’t think about the fact that most people are in unhappy relationships, and maybe you should stop doing what most people do. You say you want a committed relationship, but you still have your feelers out; not in an overt way, but in subtle ways.

You look around the bar on Friday evening, when your partner’s not there, and some voice in your mind whispers, He’s cute. This is not to say that you’re never going to find other people attractive, but rather, that it would serve your relationship to become aware of the energy you’re putting out.

Are you sending out messages to other people that you’re interested in? Do you enjoy it when other people flirt with you because it boosts your confidence? Does some part of you still want to leave your options open?

If there’s an energy in you that’s seeking elsewhere, it is creating distance in your relationship in subtle ways. Don’t think that because your partner doesn’t know that it’s “innocent” or “harmless.” The energy you put out comes right back to you.

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4. You use intimacy as a way to make someone love you

Part of you believes that physical intimacy will make someone love you. You’re unaware of the fear that drives you to be intimate so quickly, and you think it’s normal because all of your friends are just as quick to get physical.

You need to check your intentions: Are you being intimate, because you’re afraid of losing the person? Are you doing it to please your partner and because you think it’s normal to get physical by a certain number of dates, or after a certain amount of time?

If you’re getting closer to someone physically, because you’re trying to fit in or please the other person, you’re actually not experiencing true intimacy. When two people are truly intimate, they share a deep connection that goes beyond the physical, but that can be expressed physically.

Real intimacy takes time and trust. If you’re intimate before you’re ready, you’ll unconsciously resent your partner, and you won’t feel safe or loved.

5. You have a special relationship with your ex

You’re only willing to partially open your heart to someone new because you are still connected to your ex. You feel that you have a close bond, and you turn to your ex to discuss problems, share a laugh, or celebrate the good news that you’ve received. You’re unwilling to completely let go of your ex, and so there’s no space for a new partner.

In order to manifest an emotionally healthy and mature relationship, you must release your past. This doesn’t mean that you can never communicate with your ex, but rather, that you should honor what’s in your present, and that might mean spending less time and energy with your ex.

Once you become aware of the ways you might be closing your heart, you can catch yourself as you fall into negative patterns, and you can begin to shift. It only requires the tiniest amount of self-awareness and the decision to make a change to open your heart. With these two things, you can shift your dating and romantic life and manifest a connected, mature relationship.

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Jessie Leon writes about mindful living, relationships, and spirit. She has been in featured in Elephant Journal, Evie Magazine, and more.