At one point or another, we all fall for someone with a guard up.
These people have one foot in the door- but one foot out. These people have hearts of gold but barbed wire fences around them; pure and genuine intentions but actions that do not back them up.
And it’s so easy to only see the best in these people. Because they always give you just enough to go on.
Sometimes you’ll see that fence around their heart come down. Sometimes those people will step outside and open their doors up and show you the brilliance behind what they’ve been protecting.
You’re going to see moments where their faces light up and their laughter comes easily and there seems to be absolutely nothing standing between you and the whole of their heart. There are going to be moments of true vulnerability, instances of genuine connection, full days spent together where you feel as though the coming and going is finally over with.
That the pushing and pulling is a past affair, that they are here now, that they’re present, that they’re ready to fully engage in something genuine and real.
But with these people, it very seldom lasts.
These people want to love when there’s no cost to do so, to give only when they already have more than enough.
They want to love when it’s convenient. And when it’s not, they want to simply self-preserve.
And the problem with these self-preservers is that we’ve been taught it is romantic to pine after them. If we just chase them for long enough, coax them hard enough, convince them to come back to the world of the living and the loving, we can change them.
But here’s the harsh truth that we ought to be taught instead:
It should never, ever, ever be your responsibility to break down someone else’s guard.
Because peoples’ guards go up for a reason.
Guards are there to keep people out because the person behind them isn’t done healing yet. Because they are not done working on themselves. Because they are not ready to dole out love in a healthy and genuine way.
And you cannot love someone who is so direly unready for it. Whose first instinct is still self-preservation.
You can’t love someone who wants love only when it’s easy, when it’s unchallenging, when the stakes are low and the rewards are piling high.
Because the kind of love they’re able to give you isn’t healthy – not for you and not for them either. Their walls are up because they still need time to work on that love – to figure out how to produce more of it, until they have enough to share around.
And if there’s anything I hope you take my word on, it’s this: If what these people truly, genuinely wanted was to let love in, they would.
If what they wanted was to tear down their defenses, place their trust in someone else and open themselves up to the possibility of being cared for completely and reciprocally, they would do so. They’re capable of it. They know it and you know it too.
But they’re choosing their guards for a reason. They’re choosing their guards because they don’t want to be out of control, because they don’t want to give themselves over, because they like the life they’ve built for themselves infinitely better than the life they could establish alongside someone else.
A part of them probably does crave love. A part of them probably does crave belonging. But it’s only a part. It’s not the whole thing. It’s always only a fragmented piece.
And so here’s the bitter truth about these people with inconsistent hearts: You have to let them go.
You don’t have to hate them. You don’t have to rid them from your lives. You don’t even have to stop loving them, in whichever way you’re able to do so that does not breed pain and expectation.
But you have to give up on the idea of them letting those guards down and welcoming you in. You have to give up o n the idea that love will change them, love will complete them, love will do anything other than place demands on them that they’re not ready to fulfill.
When it comes to love, half-way will never be good enough.
Not for you. Not for them. Not yet.
And so when you meet these people who are only half-ready to love you, you have to let them go.
Let them find a way to lower their own guards.
Let them heal.
And if it’s truly meant to be, let them come back – once they’re finally ready to let you in.