Some people put themselves out there all the time, seemingly unafraid of the consequences. These people are in the center of any social group, dancing up a storm or chatting up anyone who will listen. Other people, however, are more guarded. Your girl might simply be shy, or she might have gotten hurt by a previous boyfriend. TeensHealth.org points out that giving and receiving, sharing feelings and listening and supporting are all ways to grow a healthy relationship. These things also help someone who was hurt learn to trust again.
Understand Trust and Vulnerability
If your girl has a protective wall, it is important to understand why. Vulnerability is critical to all social relationships, as psychologist Emma M. Seppala explains in the article, "Vulnerability, The Secret To Intimacy," in Psychology Today. Yet, many people are afraid that if they show themselves as they truly are, they will be rejected. This is especially true for people who been hurt before. Keeping this perspective can help you stay calm and avoid feeling hurt by her actions.
Create a Safe Space
Feeling safe is absolutely essential in a relationship, as crisis counselor Rori Raye states in an article for eHarmony.com. This is where listening and supporting comes into play. Your girl needs to know that you will accept her and love her for who she is, even when things go wrong. For example, if she surprises you with tickets to a game, but you don’t like sports, tell her how much it means to you that she gave you a gift.
Emotional validation means showing someone that her feelings are reasonable and appropriate, explains psychologist and author Guy Winch in an article for PsychologyToday.com. When your girlfriend complains about her parents, an unfair teacher or an annoying coworker, she wants to feel like you get where she is coming from. Let her finish her story before you respond. Then put yourself in her shoes. Give her a bit of sympathy mixed with the idea that if you were her, you would react the same way she did. Validation is tough to learn, but feeling validated will help her lower her wall.
Seppala points out that authenticity, or being true to yourself, creates tight relationship bonds. Your girl might be hesitant to show you her true self, so make her feel safe by revealing yourself first. Let her know your thoughts and feelings, your likes and dislikes, and even your biggest fears. Reassure her that you care about her as a whole person, not just her best parts.
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