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Thread: How do you break-down a person's emotional defensive wall??

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    Default How do you break-down a person's emotional defensive wall??

    Hey fellow LoveLogic members,

    I need your advice...

    I recently started dated this girl for about 7 weeks or so... She just finished med school and started her residency... She lives about 1.5 hours away from me -- I never considered it LD so I felt it was very manageable...

    I haven't met someone I connected this strongly with in a while... we share the same values, religion (which has been extremely important), similar interests, and we have unbelievable amount of chemistry!! Our communication is also great -- both open and honest.

    Early on.. I'll say a bit over a week into the relationship, she expressed her reservations, but couldn't say what it was at the time... About 3 weeks into it, as we were exchanging some great text messaging communication, she suddenly wrote: "I have to pinch myself because it seems almost too good to be true...I feel that it will fall apart eventually" (paraphrase)... I tried to reassure her that things were going well and as long as we continue to be honest with each other, things would progress naturally and well...

    This past week, I spent a 3-day weekend with her... had an amazing time... she's quite busy with her study material, so we would spend 5-6 hours of each morning studying; well I'll be reading or surfing on my laptop... everything worked out well... On the Sunday, before I left we got into a touchy subject and things got a bit awkward... over the next few days, she had to work weird shifts, so we communicated very little... Last Thursday, she decided that at this point we should not be together -- considering her residency and because of her variable schedule, I usually have to be the one to visit her (which I absolutely do not mind because I feel that she's worth it), but she said she feels "indebted" that I have to make such a sacrifice -- since she has 4 more years of residency, I guess she feels that it would be a big burden on me over those years -- though we haven't talked about the possibility of me moving closer as the relationship develops, but I would be willing considering my profession is a bit more flexible in terms of location....

    Anyway, I don't know what to do... I know we both really like each other, but I sense that this is her defensive mechanism at work -- it's like she's stopping it before she gets disappointed -- maybe she feels that what we're doing isn't sustainable??? I don't know...

    What do y'all think?? I really like her a lot and we connect at a very high level... The fact that we share the same faith is an added bonus which I never felt would mean this much to me....

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated...

    Thanks in advance guys!

    UNCO

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    One other bit of detail to add... perhaps I rushed the process a bit; I often expressed my feelings and talked a lot about the future... Do you think this may have contributed to it? Maybe I scared her?

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    Hey, Unco -

    I'm sorry to hear that things seem to be getting murky with your relationship.

    The thing to remember is that you can't really break through someone's emotional defenses/walls/etc...they have to willingly take them down for you. The more you try to hammer at them and get around them, the stronger those defenses are going to become - I speak from experience with being on both sides of that situation.

    I'm not sure if the situation you described has as much to do with her emotional defenses as it does with her current lifestyle - busy med student, working strange (and probably VERY long) shifts, hardly having any "down time." I can see that she's reserved about the relationship as well - she seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Looking at it from her point of view, I can see how she would feel a little guilty that you have to be the one to visit her while her schedule doesn't allow her to return the favor. I'd probably feel a bit obligated, too...no matter how much the other person told me it wasn't a big deal. And I'd feel frustrated that I would not be able to meet those obligations - it's a feeling of being unable to "give back" the same amount, and it creates a feeling of unbalance.

    As far as what her feelings really are, well...only she can tell you that. Since I don't know her, I can't really say with any sort of confidence what I think is happening in her head. It could be that she's stopping before she gets disappointed, or she's stopping before things get too serious. With another four years of medical school ahead of her, it could also be that she can't see how she'll be able to sustain a healthy relationship while succeeding in her studies/career at the same time. I suppose my point is that you need to really look at this from her perspective, look at her specific situation and what she's already dealing with in her life. Her main focus, from what you described, seems to be medical school. It can be difficult to balance all of that with a relationship as well, even though I don't you'd be unreasonable or demanding - if anything, you sound quite supportive of her goals.

    Regardless, there's always the "guilt factor" that people feel in not being able to give back the way they would like, and if she's anything like me, it doesn't matter what anyone says to ease my guilt - I'm still going to feel it, and it's still going to stress me out.

    Since you don't know if she's using a defense mechanism, or if she's trying to be fair to you, or if she's been scared off, or if she simply wants to avoid putting more stress on herself than she's already got, I don't think it's a good idea to speculate on what she's thinking and feeling. You won't know unless she tells you. I can see how she might think it'd be difficult to see you regularly and work on her studies at the same time.

    How is the communication situation with you two right now? Do you still contact each other, or none at all? If you're still communicating and you feel you need to state your intentions clearly, then do so. However, I wouldn't recommend trying to push her into a relationship - it will only stress her out and make her retreat. Whether or not this will help the situation for you, I can't say. It seems to me that the ultimate decision is up to her.

    I'm not sure any of that was helpful, but if you need to give any more information, then I'll be happy to try again!
    "Are tangerines really just oranges that didn't want it enough?" - Random Greeting Card

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    Hey kelley,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience and advice with me. It was very helpful. I think it's a combination of emotional defense and lifestyle/work.

    Some additional details: she was once engaged but decided to end the relationship because her ex was not supportive of her med studies. This was a few months into her education. Even though she's now out of med school, she is in residency ... it's the process of specializing after school -- so she is actually a practicing doctor and studies at the same time. She's in her early 30s have expressed to me so I know she ideally wants to develop a relationship and plan a family for the near future (say3-5 years). But somehow I feel this fear or reservation, hence I mentioned the "emotional wall". It's ironic as I say that because she is extremely verbal and affectionate. I have already met her parents and went on a double date with her sister and brother-in-law. She's really close to her family so their approval was important and from what I know, they like me so far. I was actually suppose to go over to her parents house this coming weekend for dinner, which I was very much looking forward to -- I was going to bring over dinner and all.

    The last time we had communication was a brief text exchange on Monday. The last time we actually spoke on the phone was last Thursday.

    So kelley, are you saying I should leave it entirely up to her right now? I really want to give it another shot at reaching her, but don't know when or how. I know people often criticize the length of relationship if it was short... In this case, we've been together for 2 months -- it's really not the length, but the quality of time that we've spent together I value. Conversations are great and I have seriously never made someone laugh like how I make her laugh before -- I've never considered myself much of a funny guy but with her my synapsis is rapid fast and my wit comes alive. Our values and outlook on life is very much aligned.

    I don't know, is there much to add?

    UNCO

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    Hey, Unco, and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I've been buried for the past couple of weeks and am only now coming up for air!

    While I'm not going to tell you what you "should" do - I'm in no place to do so - my observation is that the ball is in her court whether or not she wants to change her mind and pursue a relationship. You can certainly make your intentions known, but be prepared for the possibility that it might not change her mind.

    Do you have any updates to add?
    "Are tangerines really just oranges that didn't want it enough?" - Random Greeting Card

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