Ask the Therapist: I find it difficult to open up to people
Emotionally opening up to someone can have a host of fears associated with it
I am a 42-year-old man who has never been in a serious, long-term relationship. As I grow older, I feel more alone and hence there’s a need for a relationship. But being emotionally reclusive for such a long time, I find it difficult to open up to people. What can I do? — Name Withheld
Dear Writer, recognising that you want to have a special person to share the remainder of your life with is the first step towards opening up.
I would like to encourage you to think about and journal why you have not been able to commit to a relationship earlier in life, why you have become emotionally reclusive, and what your difficulties are in sharing your feelings. Try to learn from these insights and become proactive in changing any negative and fearful thoughts.
Emotionally opening up to someone can have a host of fears associated with it. Foremost among these are fears of rejection, vulnerability, abandonment, or commitment. Don’t let your fears prevent you from opening up to someone. If there is someone you like, take your time to get to know them and begin to build trust. If you have feelings for someone, share them. What people say in such situations ranges from “I really like spending time with you” to “I am starting to have feelings for you”. It can make you feel vulnerable but, through open communication, you will discover if the feelings are mutual.
I would also encourage you to connect with people for friendship. The social platform “Meet-Up Dubai”, for example, is a place to socialise with groups of people that focus on specific activities. Such gatherings are an ideal place to make friends, share common interests and meet potential partners. Good friends will enrich your life and will help you overcome your loneliness.
(Dr Annette is integrated psychotherapist at CHMC, Dubai. Got a query? Email us on email@example.com)