Broken Walls

I read a quote once that went something like, “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.” That was ringing in my thoughts after a conversation I had with my brilliantly insightful wife about friends a while back. See, for a long time I couldn’t say that I had very many close friends. That’s not to say that I didn’t have people that I cared deeply about. But aside from my wife and parents, there were maybe 2 other people on this earth that I felt I could trust implicitly.

The more I thought about it, the more it made me wonder if perhaps I had created walls that I was silently hoping people would care enough to break down. Was I baiting people? Were my friendships going to be based on some arbitrary display of perseverance? Would I take the fact that people hadn’t yet attempted to circumvent my relationship walls to mean they don’t really care about me? And then, in the absurdity of it all, turn around and feel as if this would allow me to not care either and so cast them aside? fist-break-through-wall

Heaven forbid…

It’s not that I thought people were disposable. But I could very well have pushed them away unintentionally with these walls of my own invention. The design of which is really not very fair. I mean, what kind of deep relationship could I really expect to gain if I made someone jump through hoops that THEY may or may not even realize exist?

I had to do some soul searching to figure out what this was really about.

It became clear that it was partly/mostly my own fault. There were people with whom I believed I could have a really close relationship. Some of them had actually pursued me. But I hadn’t reciprocated much if at all. Was it because I was a horrible person? I don’t think so. Instead, I’d convinced myself that it’s an issue of time. With all of the chaos that I’d been dealing with at any given moment, I told myself that I didn’t have the time to dedicate to the cultivation of a deep friendship with someone else. At one point I actually said to someone, “I really enjoy hanging out and talking with you, but I can’t give you the kind of things you want from this relationship and I don’t want you to constantly be disappointed when I don’t come through.” Unfortunately, this went against my own belief that you will make time for those things (and people) that are important to you. My wife called that a cop out.

So where did I go off track?

I think it was simply a defense mechanism. After being wounded in past relationships, I hadn’t really allowed an opportunity for anyone get close to me. I mean, not REALLY close. Yeah, I could share interests and show compassion and provide encouragement to others. But that was all about giving and nothing about receiving. Few people knew the details of the things that I struggled against on a daily basis. Heck, my blog audience probably knew (and still knows) more about the intimate details of my life than people offline. I believe it was an underlying fear of rejection. The less I put myself out there, the less chance I had of getting hurt. But I couldn’t live my life in fear of potential pain inflicted by others.

After that talk with my wife, I found myself lamenting the lack of deep friendships. It was then that I decided that I needed to pursue people.

Slowly. Just 1 or 2 in the beginning. But it was a start.

I’m curious if I am alone in this…

Does anyone else struggle with developing close friendships? I mean, the real friendships. Not superficial, mere acquaintances or people who want to be more but you’ve friend zoned them. I’m talking Best Friends. People you’d protect with your very life if necessary. Is that a challenge for anyone else?

Because in spite of the obstacles I’ve created in the past, I genuinely want those kind of people in my future.

Broken walls and all.


Categories: personal, relationships, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Broken Walls

  1. I struggle a lot with it. I had a really awful childhood and abusive marriage, so whenever someone is good to me, I tend to go overboard trying to please them and make them feel smothered, or I’m cold and indifferent. I also tend to date men who put up walls. The last man I dated said he would think to himself “I have a girlfriend, and she is great and I love her so much, but I want to be carefree about what I do and not disappoint her when I don’t make time for her or want to hang out with the guys” and left, while telling his friends I was “too good” for him. He’s done it to every woman before me too. I would say you’re not alone. Sometimes when people get hurt really badly, it becomes a defense mechanism and the people we love the most are the ones we push away the most, because once you love someone, then the fear of losing them keeps you from getting closer. I assume your wife is a very patient person and helped you with some of these feelings before she even mentioned it to you. Just keep working to bring those walls down and you’ll feel better about yourself, as well as your relationships.

  2. I want real friendships too, but I’ve started to believe that those “full package” friendships don’t really exist. I have more thoughts on this but I will be blogging about it soon so I won’t clog up your comments area with it.

    I don’t struggle with letting people in or making an effort to become real, close, good friends with people. That part comes easy. In fact, Ris, you are someone I attempted to increase the depth of my friendship with and I met this very wall you speak of. (I’m nothing if not honest.) All my life people have told me that I try to force things on people that they don’t want and I’ve been working hard over the past few years to avoid doing that, so when I met that wall I just gave up. Also, I don’t particularly want to pursue a close friendship with someone I feel doesn’t want one with me. Who does? I know I am not the only one that doesn’t like friendships that feel one-sided.

    Although letting people in and making an effort with them comes easy, the hard part for me is trusting that they really like me, and battling with irrational fear that I am going to do or say something that makes them not like me as much or even that they will dump me for no reason out of nowhere. Because I’ve been hurt a LOT in the past by friendships. It makes me skittish when it comes to interpersonal relationships. That’s why sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t also put up at least a thin wall. But then I think about how other people can’t read my mind, and will see the wall as either disinterest or a request to be left alone, rather than “prove this friendship will be worth the effort and I won’t get hurt before I let you in.”

    ~ Lily ~

  3. girlforgetful

    “Does anyone else struggle with developing close friendships? I mean, the real friendships. Not superficial, mere acquaintances or people who want to be more but you’ve friend zoned them. I’m talking Best Friends. People you’d protect with your very life if necessary. Is that a challenge for anyone else?”

    Nope. Never. Not me.

    Ok, maaayyyybe.


    I’ve come to believe that I seek people out who give any indication of being the same way, so that I can play the role of super trustworthy extremely generous heart of gold new friend and try to bring them out of their fortress of solitude, knowing they won’t, so I have an excuse to be depressed for 1 1/2 years. Yea, I’m getting help for that. (And yea, I’m a little bitter. Working on that, too.)

  4. Not counting the few family members I have any sort of interaction with, I can think of maybe three people I’d throw my life down for.

  5. Yes. Yes I have trouble committing to and pursuing deep friendships. I am so afraid of disappointing that I would rather not even try. I fight against it, though. I have alarms on my phone to remind me to connect with a friend or two. I make a point of calling someone when I have a rough day. Pre-newborn, I made a point of going out with a friend about once a month either as a playdate or as no-kids time. ‘Bout time I got back to that… It is HARD. And it is necessary.

    Love ya, big bro. 🙂

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