When I was younger, I was someone who always believed in love, in fairytales, and in happy endings. People could read me like an open book. I believed that every time a guy tried something with me, it would lead to love, so I never held my emotions back. If I liked someone, I didn’t have a problem telling them that. I never even tried to hide my feelings because I considered them to be something beautiful and pure.

But after numerous disappointments, I’ve finally admitted to myself that not everyone’s intentions are sincere. I saw that people were taking advantage of me and my openness. I allowed many boys to see me as vulnerable and most of them used that instead of appreciating it. But I just didn’t know how to behave differently. I was raised in a family where we all shared our feelings and in which we were always there for each other, so I must have expected for the outside world to be the same. I just wanted to give myself completely to everyone I loved and thought that others will match my effort.

Then came my first real heartbreak. I was still very young and naïve and I thought I would never recover from the emotional pain that guy had put me through. He left me without a valid explanation, and after we broke up, I found out that he had cheated on me the whole time. My entire world shred into pieces—I felt betrayed and let down. He obviously pretended he was something he is not and acted as if he loved me just so I would stick around. It took me a great deal of time to realize he actually never cared about me—he loved having me around, because I took care of him, I loved him and made him a priority in my life, and that made him feel better about himself. But I still didn’t lose my faith in people. I thought that people are sincere and mean well to others in general, and that he was only an exception. Of course, I was terrified I would get hurt again and it took me some time to open up to someone like I did with him, but I was always still very clear about my emotions and intentions.

It was in my second long-term, committed relationship when I realize that people don’t appreciate you when you are always there for them. The guy I was dating had a problem with expressing his feelings, or he may had a problem of feeling anything strongly enough—I will never know. The fact is that he hurt me more than in one way. He didn’t betray me in the way my first boyfriend did, but he made me feel unwanted and unloved through our entire relationship. He was constantly holding back his emotions, and after a while, I started doing the same. I still loved him intensely, but I saw that he wasn’t ready to match my effort and that he would never give himself completely to our relationship, so I forced myself to stop being so open about my love towards him. I loved him with my entire being and he simply wasn’t capable of loving me back in the same way and intensity. He was present physically with me, but throughout our entire relationship, I felt alone. I felt unwanted, rejected, and unloved. For a long time, I tried to fix him emotionally and tried to understand what lies in the bottom of him being like that. It took me years before I came to the conclusion that some people just don’t want to be fixed and that we don’t have the capacity to heal them. It took me a lot of strength and effort, but finally, I walked away from him.

After having my heart broken more than once, without consciously wanting it, I’ve started building walls around me. I didn’t have the intention of doing so, but I’ve shut myself completely. It doesn’t mean I’ve started hurting other people—I just don’t allow anyone to know the true me anymore, because I am afraid they will take advantage of my vulnerability. Simply put, I’ve become emotionally unavailable. I gave up on finding true love and I gave up on the possibility of me reopening my heart to someone. I still hope that the right guy, who will have the will and the capacity to tear down my emotional walls, will eventually come, but what I know is that he will have to be pretty damn special to achieve that.