Wall Flower Syndrome- When You're Too Afraid To Fall in LOVE.

The more you've been hurt in love the harder it is to give your heart again. By Stephanie Osfield.

You think you'll never get over it when a guy breaks your heart. You feel down on yourself ("Why don't my relationships ever work out?"); foolish ("How could I have given so much to someone so undeserving?") and angry (" this is the last time I ever let someone do this to me"). Though the tears dry and you do learn to laugh again there can be a lasting fear that you may get hurt the next time around. Sure, that can bring some positives - encouraging you too choose partners more wisely or ensuring you hold back on having sex until you're sure the next guy you meet is worthy your love. But past romantic disasters can also give you a fear of intimacy so strong it may stand in the way of you finding true love again.

Once bitten, twice shy.
If you were bitten by a snake in your backyard then every time you go to that part of the garden you'd feel a little fearful of it happening again. That's human nature - remembering and acting defensively are an inbuilt part of our emotional make-up - they're instinctive responses designed to keep us safe from predators so that we survive. Unfortunately, the fear of being hurt also applies in love - so when your heart has been bruised in one or more relationships, it's hard not to be permanently on your guard. If you were open, honest, affectionate and passionate and your boyfriend lapped it all up then later dumped you - you're naturally going to be wary of being too giving in love again. But what a cost?

A painful break-up can leave scars that run deep. Maybe you've decided to keep every man you meet at arm's length. Maybe you haven't dated another guy for a long time because you're distant with every new man you meet. Whatever your tactics for keeping your heart safe, one thing is certain -avoiding intimacy is no reliable insurance policy against a broken heart. On the contrary, you're likely to end up with a heart that is breaking from loneliness and the ache to be loved.

"Emotional intimacy is one of the most uplifting experiences in life", say counselor, Kerryn Morrison. "When you share your deepest feelings, hopes and fears with someone and they share theirs with you, there is overwhelming sense of feeling fulfilled and belonging. That's why we all strive to have successful relationships - so that we can enjoy emotional intimacy and the sense of self-worth that romantic attachment provides.

" But when you're overly cautious about protecting yourself in lover you deny yourself the chance of ever achieving this level of emotional happiness. Being vulnerable with another person and letting them know who you really are is the basic foundation for any lasting romance. Hold back from doing this because your last boyfriend abused this intimate knowledge of you and you'll not only prevent the men you met from getting to know the real, wonderful you, but you'll also scare potential partners away because you'll come across as withdrawn and unapproachable.

Don't take it to HEART
"I've fallen out of love with you", "I've met someone else"; "I'm not ready to settle down just yet..." whatever reason a guy gives for ending your relationship -It's hard not to take it personally.

"When I got dumped for the third time in a year, for at lease six months, I blamed myself - Thinking I clearly wasn't smart enough to keep a man captivated, not attractive enough to keep a man from looking at other women and not interesting enough to hold a man's attention for long," Says Tanya, 24. "It was unable to be the kind of woman who'd make guy stick around. And because I'd had three men treat me thoughtlessly I was afraid of even dating again. So for a long time I just stood back and played the role of the wallflower.

"I didn't flirt with guys, I didn't even smile at them - I actually felt safer if no man showed any interest in me and soon that was the case - I was giving 'off-limits' signals. I thought I was keeping myself in a position of strength by holding back, but over time I was becoming increasingly bitter, sad, isolated and despairing. Deep down I still wanted to be loved - I just didn't know how to achieve that level of romance without putting my heart at risk." While she was busy cataloging her many inadequacies it never occurred to Tanya that maybe that problem was with the men she was dating - chances are they just weren't right for her or had their own emotional issues such as commitment phobia.

In short, instead of going into self-preservation mode because you had a relationship that didn't work out, it's much healthier to try to look at what happened objectively so that you can learn from the experience. Did you try too hard to please him? Did you catch him on the rebound? Were you trying too much to change him or were you and your boyfriend just too different to ever make a real go of it? Seeing each break-up clearly for what it was will let you off the hook so that you can be kind to yourself again.

"When a person fears being hurt again in love you can usually trace their ongoing trauma back to one fundamental problem - the inability to deal with a sense that they have been rejected," says Morrison. "Learning how to work through this feelings and not to take rejection as a character assassination is the key to moving beyond fear s that you can regain enough confidence and self-esteem to open yourself up again in love,"

Who are YOU?
Do feel that you're nothing without your boyfriend. Do you tend to put each guy you date in a position of power over you so go along in the hope that keeping him happy will make him stay with you? Then you're setting yourself up to have your heart broken. The moment you let yourself be defined by who you are with rather than who you are, you're in dangerous territory. It's impossible to have successful relationship unless you are in touch with your own identity.

"I often find in women who feel they have been unhappy in love that they have been unhappy in love that they are not good at setting boundaries about the way they are treated," says psychologist, Theresa Spittle. "They have spent so long letting other people call the shots they have no idea they what they want. I encourage them to put themselves first for a chance. They write a list to identify what makes them happy, what they feel passionate about. Through this process they realise that our thoughts are what have the most influence over our happiness."

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