General Dating Questions/How to let my guard down.
My issue started a year ago, when I promised myself I wouldn't let my guard down at ANY expense. I promised myself I wouldn't date for a year.
*Little background information it might help*
I'm 21, and last year I was stalked, and threatened by a guy I dated who lied about EVERYTHING about himself including the fact that he was my sister's boyfriend.
The good thing is, I did keep my promise to myself and the bad thing is that I don't know how to let people in. It's a little over a year and I dated and it's just like I forgot how to be close to someone. I dated, and that relationship ended just because I was too distant and never got close to him and it hurts because I really cared about that person I just did not know how to just enjoy it and not think that he had an ulterior motive.
My friends seem to believe that I'm just heartless - which I'm not, I really am a caring person and I do want to be open to relationships and not be paranoid of the idea of letting my guard down. I just want to know from your expertise if you can tell me what's wrong with me or how I can be more open and just enjoy dating and have fun.
Yes, it's always the bad choices that come back to bite us isn't it?
You've spent the last year practicing being closed off and unengaging. In effect, you've spent all that time programming your brain to be, look and act this way. It's a very powerful outcome! The problem as you've discovered is that it's not the outcome you want.
While this alone is unfortunate, what's more unfortunate is what it takes to reprogram your brain to not be this way. In fact, we are designed specifically to work as negative-pattern finders.
Think about a jigsaw puzzle that's missing a single piece. Where does your eye go - to the pretty picture of the puzzle or the one missing piece? Not only are you designed to be influenced by the negative space perspective of dating (in other words, to NOT date, to NOT connect, etc.) but you've actually spent all this time reinforcing it!
So, the only way now to fix this is to get started on undoing all that programming. But, you have a lot working against you. First, it means you have to open yourself up to all the things you've spent this time trying to avoid: being hurt, being used, hoping, wishing and dreaming, etc.
And, guess what? You're going to get all of those! So, not only do you have to now work very hard against your own programming and the way you're designed, but you have to accept and actually go through all these additional, painful things to get where you want to be!
Brooke, that's going to be a very tough road, but the fact is; there's no easy road to go where you want to go. In fact, getting here was the easy road! It's far, far easier to close yourself off than it is to open yourself up and become vulnerable again.
However, if you ever want to actually have lovers in your life again, you're going to have to accept this and get going on it. It's not just about you - it's about anyone who would want to have you in their lives. These people (effectively) have to put up with your bad choices and deal with what amounts to a mental-health problem from you. Frankly, I don't know of many people who would be willing to do that - especially for an extended period of time.
So, I'd suggest you get started on this right away. Every day you wait (waste?) puts you that much further back from your goal as you continue to practice the negative rather than the positive.
So, the first step is to adopt a "yes" attitude. Instead of saying "no" to absolutely everything, you have to just bear down and say "yes" instead - even when you don't want to. You have to recreate the habit of being "in the game" and that means yeses. Further, you're going to have to do this especially when you don't want to! It's the harder choices that are going to break this mental spiral you've chosen for yourself.
Likewise, you're going to have to sit down and actually write out your dating/relationship goals. You need to reprogram your mind to focus on what you want - not on what you don't want. Creating these goals isn't a simple job. If you do it right you'll likely spend at least 3-4 days crafting them. They too have to be based exclusively on what you want - not what you don't.
Likewise, you're going to have to get both a sense of outward awareness while you're working directly on your inward awareness. In effect, your choice to close yourself off was purely a selfish one. It was all about you - what you wanted, what you (thought you) needed, etc. All about you-you-you. Now, you've got to turn that focus outward and start thinking about the people you date. What do they want and need? What makes them tick, etc.
Brooke, I'm sorry you chose such a poor direction. Whether it was out of self-punishment or not, that has become the net effect of the choice. Choices and actions have real consequences.
Dr. Dennis W. Neder
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”