CrystalFaerie

Opening up emotionally to your partner

11 posts in this topic

Hey guys! :) I've had this question on my mind for a while now and I'd appreciate your input.

I have a lot of trouble opening up emotionally to people, especially to guys. The reason is that all through my school years, ages 4-17, I was seriously bullied (people kicking my feet in the corridors, saying "eww" when I walked past, literal mobs of 100-200 kids chasing me across the school field, a girl trying to strangle me - things like that happened daily) and it has made me very self-conscious. On one hand, I didn't dress "fashionably" and I had terrible acne, so people would bully me because of my appearance and I ended up being quite uncomfortable with myself. I'm happy with how I look now, but the underlying fear is still there. On the other hand, I have a rather unusual personality and interests, and I was bullied for that too. So I've ended up being extremely private about who I really am. For example, even after the bullying had ended, it took me a full year to actually be myself around the person who would become my best friend.

I hope this doesn't sound too whiny, I'm just trying to give a background so you can understand where I'm coming from. Like I said, I'm happy with who I am now and I don't even resent the bullying that much, as it's made me a stronger and better person. But it's also forged aspects of me I'd rather not have, like being extra shy and self-conscious.

Anyway, back to my question. I already have trouble making friends as it is, but when I end up talking to someone I find attractive, I immediately close up and get defensive. Some unconscious part of me just expects them to be mean to me, or to take advantage of me. So to avoid being hurt, I get emotionally distant and of course, that's not a great way to make friends, let alone start a relationship, right? :P

I was wondering if you guys would have any advice on how to get over this. Or if you've been through anything similar, feel free to speak up :)

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I sometimes have a hard time opening up to others as well, although not from any particular experiences. I am so sorry that you had to go through such awful bullying- no one should have to endure that. Kudos for having a positive outlook looking back and realizing how it has made you a stronger person today :)

 

I am generally very quiet and it takes me a long time to get really comfortable with others. This is something that I think always should happen slowly, and progress naturally in any friendship as well as romantic relationships.

 

One thing that my fiance and I started a couple months after we started dating (almost 6 years ago) that also was partially a result of being primarily long distance until 6 months ago, was we started doing nightly "questions" each of us would text each other questions and then both give an answer. They started out as really just get to know you better questions like favorite foods, colors, dislikes of food etc and progressed to more personal/intimate topics over time. I feel like this has really helped us get to know each other so well on an emotional level, even when we couldn't be together in person very often. We still continue this today although we often go through bouts of neither of us having any questions, which is not a big deal :) 

 

It takes time to open up to another person emotionally and the right person will be patient with you, especially if you share your story. I think sharing why it might take a little extra time for you to open up emotionally would be important and will help them understand you a little bit better.

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Maybe sharing a little bit about yourself every time you talk to them would help you to open up? Just little, random things about you at first. Then start getting a little deeper each time, this way you can gauge their reactions. This would help open up about your past experiences, and to trust them.

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I know how you feel. I was bullied a lot when I was very young. Everything from being pushed around to being teased about my hair, acne... anything they could think of. I could go into much more detail about it but, long story short (basically because it is much like yours in what happened with the kids), after a bout in the childrens hospital mental ward, and much counseling, I did get to the same place you are by my early 20s. However, over the past 15 years, I have been able to push my own comfort zones a little further, and have come even further. I am still not a very outgoing person. I don't like to just talk to anyone, and I have a hard time fitting in, BUT I can now at least tell people WHY I am the way that I am. Which is, essentially, a combination of both natural to who I am and the experiences I have had.

 

The only advice I can give to you is personal for me, and it can also be a bit difficult. Push yourself on occasion. There is a saying... 'Courage is not the absense of fear, it is the decision that something else is more important'... I have used this for many many years. I remember this quote and it helps me to ask myself 'If I take this chance... and do this, or talk to that person, or this or that, whatever... might my life be better? Might something different in myself come to light, will I learn something new about myself? AM I STRONG ENOUGH?' I think you get the idea. I still don't do everything I think I should, or want to, do, but... and this is huge... I do MORE OFTEN than I use to. The fear of the unknown outcome is still there, but my curiosity about what MIGHT be sometimes overpowers that fear. Life holds no guarantees, except for taxes and death ;) ha ha, but you'll more often wonder about the things you didn't do, or the people you didn't talk to, rather than the ones you did. Or so my experience has been so far.

 

I don't think these feelings ever really go away FOR SOME OF US. Which does make pushing those boundaries, or sharing ourselves, a little more difficult. Then, of course, there are a few people we come across who we will feel a natural kinship with. When that happens it's magical, because they seem to just 'get' us. These are people who we may feel nervous with, at first, but then something happens and the talking just comes naturally.

 

Actually, this exact thing is why I enjoy talking to people online. I still find it a bit nerve wracking with some people, at least at first, but more often than not I have made some great friends simply because of the buffer of the internet. The biggest unfortunate thing about that is the idea of meeting and becoming RL friends with them is a bit hard. Wanting to be friends with them, in more than just a virtual way, is hard.

 

So, I am not sure I answered your question, but I do hope this helped. I am kind of tired, and I am not sure this made the sense I was hoping to make.

 

I sometimes have a hard time opening up to others as well, although not from any particular experiences. I am so sorry that you had to go through such awful bullying- no one should have to endure that. Kudos for having a positive outlook looking back and realizing how it has made you a stronger person today :)

 

I am generally very quiet and it takes me a long time to get really comfortable with others. This is something that I think always should happen slowly, and progress naturally in any friendship as well as romantic relationships.

 

One thing that my fiance and I started a couple months after we started dating (almost 6 years ago) that also was partially a result of being primarily long distance until 6 months ago, was we started doing nightly "questions" each of us would text each other questions and then both give an answer. They started out as really just get to know you better questions like favorite foods, colors, dislikes of food etc and progressed to more personal/intimate topics over time. I feel like this has really helped us get to know each other so well on an emotional level, even when we couldn't be together in person very often. We still continue this today although we often go through bouts of neither of us having any questions, which is not a big deal :)

 

It takes time to open up to another person emotionally and the right person will be patient with you, especially if you share your story. I think sharing why it might take a little extra time for you to open up emotionally would be important and will help them understand you a little bit better.

I love this idea. I think that would be a great way to connect with someone.

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Hey guys! :) I've had this question on my mind for a while now and I'd appreciate your input.

I have a lot of trouble opening up emotionally to people, especially to guys. The reason is that all through my school years, ages 4-17, I was seriously bullied (people kicking my feet in the corridors, saying "eww" when I walked past, literal mobs of 100-200 kids chasing me across the school field, a girl trying to strangle me - things like that happened daily) and it has made me very self-conscious. On one hand, I didn't dress "fashionably" and I had terrible acne, so people would bully me because of my appearance and I ended up being quite uncomfortable with myself. I'm happy with how I look now, but the underlying fear is still there. On the other hand, I have a rather unusual personality and interests, and I was bullied for that too. So I've ended up being extremely private about who I really am. For example, even after the bullying had ended, it took me a full year to actually be myself around the person who would become my best friend.

 

ARGH!!! That makes me want to.....

 

Gwaine_punch.gif

 

How could those idiots treat you like that? You're like the most peaceful, adorable girl in the world. Let them drown in the flames of Mordor (that's located somewhere in NZ, right? lol).

 

Well CF, I'm sorry for your past experiences. I completely understand how that could make it hard for you to trust people. I think one the the key things is baby steps. Depending on how long you've known a person, don't feel pressured to open up too quickly or beyond what you're comfortable with. Start slow by opening up little by little. The thing to keep in mind is that the other person probably has similar feelings about being emotionally guarded too. They may feel just as self-conscious as you do if not more so. Trust is something that has to be earned over time and at some point we all have to learn to trust if we are to get anywhere with any kind of relationship. The trick is to discern who is worthy of that trust. Well, then you judge that person by their actions. Has that person given you any reason to doubt them? If they have not, it might make it easier to open up more. 

 

I hope that helps :)

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ARGH!!! That makes me want to.....

Gwaine_punch.gif

How could those idiots treat you like that? You're like the most peaceful, adorable girl in the world. Let them drown in the flames of Mordor (that's located somewhere in NZ, right? lol).

Well CF, I'm sorry for your past experiences. I completely understand how that could make it hard for you to trust people. I think one the the key things is baby steps. Depending on how long you've known a person, don't feel pressured to open up too quickly or beyond what you're comfortable with. Start slow by opening up little by little. The thing to keep in mind is that the other person probably has similar feelings about being emotionally guarded too. They may feel just as self-conscious as you do if not more so. Trust is something that has to be earned over time and at some point we all have to learn to trust if we are to get anywhere with any kind of relationship. The trick is to discern who is worthy of that trust. Well, then you judge that person by their actions. Has that person given you any reason to doubt them? If they have not, it might make it easier to open up more.

I hope that helps :)

Golf clap!! Well-said Vince.

I second what Vince posted. CF, I'm sorry to hear about your experiences and I wished it didn't happen to you. But, I'm glad you are here and able to share your feelings with the rest of us. My two cents would be: Don't feel obligated to be open past your comfort level because trust has to be earned. Take the time to get to know the person and go at your own pace.

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Actually, this exact thing is why I enjoy talking to people online. I still find it a bit nerve wracking with some people, at least at first, but more often than not I have made some great friends simply because of the buffer of the internet.

 

I'm also much more comfortable opening up to people through a text-based medium. I first became close friends with my boyfriend by talking on AIM after school, and the majority of my emotionally-vulnerable conversations with him have been through IM. Our relationship really got serious once I left for college, and we could only IM or text on most days, and were basically forced to be very mentally and emotionally intimate because we couldn't even be in the same state for months at a time. So my personal recommendation would be to start being emotionally intimate in ways such as that, which allow you to maintain a small sense of distance, yet at the same time push you to start trusting people to listen to your thoughts and feelings and accept you for who you are. (And perhaps the attractiveness thing won't be as much of an issue if you can't see their face.  :P ) Once you've gotten used to being emotionally intimate that way, it is easier to continue on with it when you are face-to-face with that person. Casual conversations via text -> casual conversations in person -> intimate conversations via text -> intimate conversations in person.

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Guys… Just… You're awesome :)

 

Thanks so much everyone for your support and tips. You've all given fantastic advice and I will be sure to follow it! I already feel a bit braver just reading this thread. Nothing like a good pep talk from an internet forum :P

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I just wanted to say that I can relate. It takes me a long time to trust and open up to others, especially males. If I know I'm going to be interacting with them for a long time ( like school) I have a couple of topics in my mind that I could talk to them about. I try to find things that we have in common even little things like having the same favourite colour. It makes me feel just a little bit comfortable with the person and not see them as scary. I also have like words I sometimes repeat to myself like " this person has no control over my life. Nothing to be scared of". If it's even possible play a game like that Ellen game called Heads Up. I find games are great ways to create relationships and help breakdown barriers. Hope that made sense lol.

But I'm like a quite person also who doesn't talk a lot, unless in the company of close friends and family.

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I'm also much more comfortable opening up to people through a text-based medium.

...

Casual conversations via text -> casual conversations in person -> intimate conversations via text -> intimate conversations in person.

 

jWEJgjWTG9J7I.png

 

As a natural introvert, small talk is something that I really don't like participating in. With face-to-face interaction, you don't get to the "opening up" phase nearly as easily as you would in a text-based medium.  Writing gives you far more time to actually think about what you want to say next, whereas in person not everyone does well being put on the spot.

 

It definitely takes me longer than average to really "open up" to those around me. I tend to appear more distant out of personality alone; I don't really talk much unless I actually have something important to say, and my neutral expression tends to look something like :mellow:. Growing up I was really shy and awkward, both out of personality and being picked on a lot as a kid.  At this point though the shyness is mostly gone, I just legitimately prefer to observe more often than not.

 

I have to say that humor really helps me with opening up. Being able to toss a few dry jokes in every once in a while really helps to break the ice.

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Well, I can't really give any advice on being emotionally open with people who aren't even friends yet. I tend to associate that issue with deeper, long-term relationships like family or potential partners/dating since I wouldn't expect it until a certain degree of trust and familiarity (and desire for familiarity) is there. When I have been emotionally open to people outside those categories I found I regretted it afterwards. As far as in relationships is concerned, there are books out there that contain a bunch of questions on different topics meant to guide couples through important issues so they can discuss them. It might provide a useful framework from which to build on. 

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