“Don’t ever miss out on a woman with a guarded heart. She’s usually protecting the deepest most caring soul you’ll ever know.” -Sylvester McNutt
When it comes to relationships, we’ve all been hurt to a degree at some point. It’s likely, knowingly or unknowingly, that your own actions have resulted in someone else’s pain. When it comes to dating and relationships, most of us don’t point fingers and curse the world – it’s simply part of the “process” of finding a life partner.
Then, there are those “other cases.”
Some folks find it easy to dust themselves off and move on, and some don’t. Those in the latter group have often experienced hurt – in some form – at the hands of someone who promised the world only to deliver nothing of the sort.
As such, the main difference between those who “dust off and carry on,” and those who guard themselves comes down to trust. The ability to trust someone else and confidence in their own self-trust.
As an analogy…
If your computer was hacked, what would you do? You’d install a stronger security system. In the same (albeit, more humanistic) way, those whose trust has been violated secure and safeguard their emotions. Similarly, someone whose trust has been abused instinctively begin to fortify a defensive position.
Eventually, the person will slowly let their guard down. But while their “security system” has been downgraded, their defensive mechanisms remain on alert (a byproduct of evolution, by the way.)
Still, many will somehow manage to find a person to believe in despite their understandable reservations.
But two parts do not make a whole. That other “someone” must often contend with the remnants of the guarded person’s past. Whether or not such contention is acceptable or not is up to the individual. However, if you truly love the person, you will – at the very least – try and find a way to make the relationship work.
Which brings us to the central meaning of this article: how to love someone with a guarded heart. Here are the main points that someone in this situation must understand.
How to Love Your Partner When They Have A Guarded Heart
1. It will not be easy
In a situation where the person you care for has been emotionally and/or physically abused, it’s essential to have appropriate expectations. Should the courtship last two or three dates, it’s probable that his or her past will reveal itself.
If necessary, research the psychological impacts of abuse and its incisive impact on the person subject to it. Equipped with this knowledge, you’ve already conquered half of the battle.
2. Words are inconsequential
Someone whose heart is guarded has heard the “sweet talk” before. Ask anyone that has been in a relationship with a narcissist or sociopath. Words are almost meaningless.
Does this mean you should censor ever word uttered? NO! But you should consider whether or not such words are spoken with sincerity and truth.
3. Actions are everything
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote:
“Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot heart what you say to the contrary.” (This is Emerson’s original quote, which is now promulgated as “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you say,” or some other variant.)
Digression aside, how you choose to act overwhelmingly triumphs any words you speak. Act like a man. Act like a woman. If you love someone with a guarded heart, demonstrate your love through your actions.
Speak from the heart. Any other words should be considered meaningless.
4. Don’t give up
Someone with a guarded heart expects another to give up on them. Such is the insidious result of abandonment, abuse and neglect. If you truly (truly) love the person, you must find the wherewithal to see things through.
For others, it’s important to be realistic about the nature of your relationship (e.g. you’re not in love, or the situation is too stressful.) Numerous unforeseen challenges will test your determination, patience, and, yes, your love.
Should you feel guilty about exiting such a relationship? Absolutely not. To love someone with a guarded heart can be overwhelming. Just do not contribute to their pain. Be caring, honest, empathetic and straightforward.
Tell them you care about them – and that they’re worthy of the best that life has to offer.
5. Be honest
Upon uncovering that the person you care for has a guarded heart, the most responsible and noble act is to be honest in everything you do. No white lies. No “sleight of hand.”
This applies to situations when you think what you say may hurt them. Hiding or manipulating the truth is worse than being honest, even if said honesty results in someone you love experiencing hurt.
In a way, this “hurtful honesty” will help to lower the barriers around the person’s heart. They may experience a period of mourning before the nobility of your actions is realized – but you did the right thing.
And doing the right thing for someone who has been subject to emotional trauma will, sooner or later, reinforce their faith in humanity.