To Find A Quality Relationship You Must Stop Defending Your Heart

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stop defending your heart

Why is it when we most want to connect, we’re apt to feel vulnerable and withdraw by putting up an emotional wall? If you are like me and dream of dating again after being off the dating market, then we need to take a look at our emotional walls – or the REAL reason we haven’t been out on the dating scene for some time.

The truth is that we have probably put up some pretty big emotional walls to protect ourselves from being hurt. How do we open our hearts to the love again, without taking a knife to the heart in the process? The best answer is to know ourselves well and have a plan of action, so that we don’t personalize any rejection.

Know ourselves

Recognizing our emotional walls is the first step to fully knowing ourselves.

And thanks to a book by Marilyn Kagan, LCSW, and Neil Einbund, Ph.D., called Defenders of the Heart we can see what defense mechanisms we might be using to keep ourselves from love.

These defense mechanisms show up as –

1. Passive-aggressive behaviors with unassertive and indirect expressions of resentment, hostility or hurt toward others.

2. Denial behaviors where one overlooks the obvious to reduce anxiety.

3. Intellectualizing behaviors where one uses words, definitions and/or theoretical ideas to explain away emotions associated with painful, uncomfortable events or thoughts.

4. Projection behaviors where one attributes ones own unacceptable, shocking or embarrassing thoughts, feelings and impulses to someone else in order to relieve ones anxiety about them.

5. Rationalization behaviors in dealing with disappointment, fury or hurt feelings over an unbearable situation by covering them up with convoluted, self-serving and often seemingly logical excuses.

6. Humor behavior where one uses laughter or joking, especially sarcasm and irony, to get out of a jam or to soften feelings of anguish or discomfort in a given situation.

7. Displacement behaviors where one diverts alarming, humiliating or unpleasant feelings and impulses from one situation, object or person to someone or something less threatening.

8. Sublimation behaviors where one channels thoughts or feelings that are intolerable to oneself and/or to society at large into behaviors that are less objectionable.

9. Procrastination behaviors where one delays tasks or actions that need to be started or completed as a way of steering clear of uncomfortable, distressing internal angst.

10. Altruism behaviors where one gives of oneself (time, money or energy) in a way that both gratifies and wards off ones own desires and needs.

How do we grow our awareness of our own “defenders of our hearts,” so we will release them from their guard over our hearts?

Plan of Action

My plan is to find a man of substance; a man who possesses certain qualities. Knowing what the qualities I seek – someone who is open, honest, kind, humorous, flexible and giving – is the first step in a plan of action.

Keep a journal.

Weekly do what is called “free floating writing”, write whatever is going through your head, no matter if it makes sense, no matter if you can read it, just write. Write until there is nothing left to write and then write some more. Write until you are exhausted, write until you are completely empty.
Write about each person you encountered who have the qualities you want. How did you react? Did you put up an emotional wall, or were you open?

Talk about your fears with a support network.

Have a support system of friends in place to help you vent your feelings and support your moving through them.

Take action in spite of fear.

Take the photos of yourself. Write an online profile. Communicate. Go to coffee with someone of the opposite sex – hell go to dinner.
Take a chance.

Create a Progressive Timeline for your plan of action.

My Progressive Timeline looks like this –

Within A Day –
Identify with emotional walls I am still holding on to.
Finish this blog post.

Within A Week –
Review my journal entries.
Decide three ways to meet men.

Within A Month –
Have a profile written up to present to a dating site.
Have photos done.
Attend one event, either a Home Depot workshop, a lecture on something I love or a church where I might want to join.

Within Two Months –
Open a online profile and begin to communicate with men.
Have a phone conversation with a man I want to date.
Go to coffee with a man.

Within Three Months –
I am dating and meeting different men.
Evaluate where I am in the dating process , how I am feeling and what direction is needed next.

Within A Year
Be happily in a serious relationship.

Walk with me through this process of exploring the emotional walls keeping us from love. Share your experiences, so that I can help you be successful in your dating dreams too.

Now go get started!


Veronica rotated off 8 Women Dream in December of 2010 after successfully completing 2 dreams.

  • p.s. to Veronica – am proud of you girl and looking forward to seeing how it all goes! And you are inspiring me to start dating more actively again, too :)

  • Evan, I have definitely found what you say to be true: “Men look for sex and find love. Women look for love and find sex.

    “That doesn’t mean he’s expecting you to sleep with him right away. It means he determines his attraction to you first, and sorts out his feelings later.”

    I do think that men are simpler in terms of what they are seeking in a woman – is he attracted to you? Good. Does he enjoy time with you? Great. What your career is, or what you look like (as long as he finds you attractive!) etc. seems to matter less to men… At least in my experience with many men and watching other people form relationships…

    For women, I think this means that when dating if we are pleasant to be around and can RELAX in the dating process, and just enjoy it, we’re more likely to find many candidates in men who find us fun to be around.. and attractive… and then we can pick from that bounty :) (if that makes sense!).

    I like to just enjoy the process of dating… Of course would love to be in a serious relationship and I trust that that’ll come in time. But I think that my odds are better when I’m really relaxed and just having fun being out there in the world… It makes me an attractive woman to be around.

    Great post and comments! :)

  • Rayne

    You left out one step: When you have several dates with one man be sure to let me make sure he’s NOT married or living with someone! Yeah. Dating reality!

  • You may or may not have a physical checklist, but your ideal man is probably taller, smarter, funnier and wealthier than you are. Men don’t work that way. We’re a lot simpler. In fact, if I were to distill the essence of men’s dating philosophy into one line, it would be this:

    Men look for sex and find love. Women look for love and find sex.

    That doesn’t mean he’s expecting you to sleep with him right away. It means he determines his attraction to you first, and sorts out his feelings later.

  • Remy G

    Thanks for this Veronica. Its strange to see ‘myself’ in a few of those on the list. I’ll be journaling along with you! I”ll let ya know what happens. Rem

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I am looking forward to hearing about your dating adventures. I am definitely a defender of the heart myself.

    I think maybe I use humor behavior . . .

    You think? ;-)


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