The dance we do between opening ourselves up and keeping ourselves guarded; between intimacy and vulnerability and defensiveness; between healthy space for ourselves and necessary sharing is complex and intricate and mostly I forget the steps.
Growing up in the seventies and becoming a teen in the early eighties such books as Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying" and self help treatises like "I'm Okay You're Okay" and "Women Who Love Too Much" were beginning the examination of the role people, particularly women play in the shift between an "I" in relationships to a "we." By sharing our finances, our bodies, our homes, our children and our thoughts with another human being, we juggle a number of objects: the ball of "me" going up and around, passing by the pin "us" and descending rapidly only to meet "time" on its ascent.
The plain fact is that many of us have been hurt more than once. Our openness to new relationships may not be idyllic; we may not feel as happy and relaxed about letting our guard down as we did when we were inexperienced in love. Or conversely, perhaps life experiences have left us without proper boundaries. We are thirsty for love; parched to the point of compromising our integrity, our values, or sense of morality for a taste of real passion or attention.
Somewhere in the middle is a balance in which you feel, truly, like yourself and you also have someone to share your love with, your life with. By checking in with yourself often and honestly, you may just be able to ascertain when are the moments for you to push yourself to open up more and when you are right to hang back. Getting to know your partner is crucial in this area as well. Does your partner need to know certain things and need to talk about certain things that you may not need to as much? It's important to respect and honor those needs and you may find yourself enjoying a level of intimacy you haven't experienced before.
For an interesting book on this topic, follow this link:
Most importantly, it's never too late to change a pattern in your relationship.