As adults who have had an accumulation of significant life events, we learn to hone our self-preservation skills. Presuming we are of the non-sadomasochistic persuasion, we would be inclined to protect ourselves from harm and this applies too in the realm of romance.

After having been burned a few times, we might have told ourselves that we would never let ourselves be in the position where anyone can inflict pain upon us again. This is wishful thinking of course, but it serves to comfort us at the moment we make this resolve.

We tell ourselves that we would never meet anyone who would elicit in us the same dangerous intensity which we have felt for the people who have broken our hearts and we believe that our broken hearts would never mend again. Life has other plans though.

Just when we aren’t looking, love creeps up on us and surprises us and reminds us none too subtly that we are not immune to its powers. This is when our defense mechanisms come into play and we start negotiating with ourselves how far we will allow ourselves to go. This is done subconsciously with the interaction with the beloved as both do the dance of reaching an understanding that one’s feelings are safe with the other and vice versa.

This understanding is theoretically easy to reach and it would involve both parties communicating their intentions and assurances to each other. However, when both parties have had pasts where they have been badly hurt or emotionally damaged, reaching this understanding can be a challenge in and of itself as both grapple with their own better judgement as to whether to reenter the arena of a relationship which has been so far considered a minefield as far a romantic memories go and the well-honed instinct for self-preservation kicks in.

How can two people attempt to reach an understanding when so much baggage stands in the way. While grappling with the romantic need to connect with the beloved and the instinct to protect oneself, mixed signals would inadvertently be sent and misunderstandings would naturally arise. It, then, becomes further of a challenge to reach an understanding.

If they are lucky, somewhere in the push and pull, there would be a precious moment of revelation way before the situation escalates to a
point of no return, that they are able to convey to each other that: “I know that you have been badly hurt before, so have I, but if you are willing to give us a chance, I assure you that you are safe with me and I will endeavor to be the person whom you can trust and feel safe with.”

And then perhaps, we would be able to witness the rare event of seeing two porcupines hug.

(c) Niconica 2012

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