An individual with a guarded personality struggles with showing their affection to other people. If someone you love is a guarded person, you know exactly what it means.
This is not a person who will tell you he or she loves you a dozen times a day. S/he will hardly ever tell you this. They will not give you compliments or express their affection in any other way. They won’t be using lovey-dovey names either. And of course, they will never talk about their feelings. Sounds familiar? If your loved one behaves in this way, it seems that you are in a relationship with a guarded person.
Yes, a person like this is not easy to deal with in a relationship. This kind of emotionally distant behavior may feel like they just don’t care. However, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Guarded doesn’t equal cold-hearted. More often than not, guarded people are deeply caring and loyal but have no way to show it to those they love.
Now, the question is, is there something wrong with people who have a guarded personality?
Why Do People Become Guarded?
Guarded behavior tends to stem from a person’s innate personality traits or early childhood experiences. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, you become guarded as a result of disappointments and emotional wounds.
Here are the most common factors that shape a guarded personality:
1. Innate personality traits
Inborn aspects of the personality such as a temperament type or introversion/extroversion can lead to guarded behavior in relationships.
It often has to do with emotional unavailability. However, when we say that someone is emotionally unavailable or detached, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are cold-hearted. It may simply mean that a person lacks emotional intelligence or has trouble expressing their emotions.
Moreover, studies show that while qualities like empathy and emotional intelligence can be improved, they tend to greatly rely on hereditary factors. Thus, your guarded loved one may be this way simply because of his or her genetic makeup.
2. Lack of parental love
Sometimes people become guarded because they, in turn, were raised by guarded and emotionally unavailable parents. And it’s not only about the genetic predisposition that we discussed above.
You see, it’s a vicious circle. Emotionally distant people don’t give enough affection to their children, and as a result, these children develop into emotionally distant adults.
Parental and especially maternal love is a basic factor that determines your approach to relationships as an adult. When your mother is emotionally unavailable, you don’t have a healthy example of handling and expressing emotions. And since most children unconsciously learn from their parents’ behavior, you may grow into a guarded adult too.
3. Trauma or negative past experiences
Sometimes we get overly withdrawn and guarded as a result of negative experiences such as a painful breakup or trauma. Once again, the roots of the guarded personality may be hidden in a person’s childhood.
Being a victim of childhood neglect or abuse distorts your ability to process emotions and form healthy relationships as an adult. You may suffer from mental disorders such as social anxiety. As a result, you develop trust issues and an intense fear of rejection and become overly cautious about approaching other people.
Similarly, negative relationship history can make you behave this way. For example, you may have been betrayed, cheated on, or taken for granted. You may have been through a few toxic and abusive relationships. Or maybe you feel like you attract the wrong people all the time and are disappointed with a fruitless search for the right partner.
4. Reserved personality
Many introverts struggle with expressing themselves in a relationship. Being an introvert is not to say that you are a guarded person though. It just means that you are more restrained when it comes to showing your emotions and communicating your intimate thoughts to those around you.
So you won’t see an introvert calling someone a ‘bestie’ or a ‘friend forever’ a couple of weeks after meeting them. We are very careful about what we say and will never throw out big phrases like ‘I love you’ without actually meaning it.
The Hidden Power of the Guarded Personality
Living with a guarded personality looks like a challenge, doesn’t it? As a guarded person, you never meant to be cold and distant – it is just a behavior that comes naturally to you but doesn’t always reflect your true feelings.
You often want to tell your dear ones how much you care about them, but you simply… can’t. It is as if some invisible force is holding you from showing your love. It feels utterly awkward to even use affectionate words in your speech.
However, despite all these struggles, guarded people have many powerful qualities. Here are some valuable traits of the guarded personality:
1. They are self-sufficient and independent
Being a guarded person often equals being a loner with a reserved personality. Yes, sometimes, people may be so disappointed and hurt that they don’t let anyone in, even those who deserve the risk.
But if you were born this way, having a guarded personality means that you are independent and self-sufficient. So you really don’t need anyone except for a couple of close people you can trust.
And it’s a great power because you rely only on yourself and don’t put your happiness in someone else’s hands. As long as you are not lonely and too withdrawn from society, being guarded can be a smart approach to dealing with people. After all, you can’t blindly trust and open up to those around you. So a certain degree of caution is always necessary.
2. They value quality over quantity
Someone with a guarded personality won’t waste their time on the wrong people. They are self-sufficient and are doing fine on their own, remember? So hanging out with people who make them feel bored or being in a bad relationship just doesn’t make sense.
For this reason, guarded people will never have big social circles full of fake and toxic friends or just random personalities they don’t resonate with. They will keep their circle small but high-quality.
A guarded person may have just a couple of friends throughout their life, and they are perfectly fine with it. Their first priority is to make sure they don’t waste their time on the people who don’t deserve it. And of course, they don’t want to let the wrong people in and get hurt.
3. They have realistic expectations about life and people
More than ever before, we have too high expectations when it comes to relationships and life in general. To the point that they become unrealistic. We constantly see perfect lives, flawless faces, and fairytale-like love stories on social media, TV, and movies. As a result, we start to look for things that simply don’t exist.
But guess what? These dream-like lives and idealistic relationships exist only on the screen. If someone’s life or marriage looks perfect on Instagram or Facebook, it doesn’t mean that this is true in real life too. Guarded people know this better than anyone.
A guarded person never expects too much from others. Quite the opposite, to say the truth. If you were hurt in the past, at some point, you no longer believe in fairytales. Being guarded when it comes to feelings also means that you don’t get overly enthusiastic about people. And it’s a wise thing to do.
Having a realistic approach to relationships means not expecting too much from people and accepting them just the way they are. After all, keeping your expectations low, or at least realistic, is a sure way to avoid too many disappointments.
4. They have firm personal boundaries and know the value of privacy
A guarded person won’t tolerate invasive people who don’t respect others’ personal boundaries. Such individuals threaten their sacred personal space, so they will just withdraw. You won’t see a guarded personality become a people-pleaser either. They know how to say no and set clear and firm personal boundaries.
And of course, they will respect other people’s boundaries too. A guarded person will never become nosy or rude. They know the value of privacy and personal space too well to do that.
5. They read people and understand their motives
As you grow older, you learn to read people and their motives. Especially if you’ve had a few bad experiences with relationships and friendships. Yes, sometimes, you may become a little too cautious and even paranoid. But more often than not, your gut instinct is right about people. I would say that a guarded person has a kind of radar that detects toxic, shallow, and fake personalities.
You quickly understand if someone is going to take advantage of you. Or if you just don’t vibe with that person. You read the nuances in their behavior, and if something is not right, you just withdraw. Being on your own is much better than being surrounded by the wrong people.
I grew to understand that people don’t always build walls to keep others out. It is done out of a necessity to protect whatever is left within.
6. They are real
Finally, guarded people possess a quality that is becoming increasingly rare in our world – they are real. They will never fake their feelings or personality traits. A guarded individual may not be the nicest or the most easy-going person you will ever meet, but they will probably be the realest one. If you manage to approach and make friends with a guarded person, you will get a loyal and authentic friend.
They will never lie or pretend for the sake of being polite or to take advantage of someone. If they don’t like you or don’t agree with you, they won’t pretend that they do. This also means that a guarded personality won’t tolerate these behaviors in other people.
Not caring about impressing others or pretending to be someone you are not is a great power. Our society has become too fake and needs more genuine people, even if they don’t seem nice and warm at first.
There’s More to the Guarded Personality Than It Seems
As you can see from the above, being guarded comes with certain struggles but also powers. If you have a guarded person in your life, cherish them. It’s because they are probably the most loyal and authentic person you will ever meet.
Do you resonate with the description above or know a person who fits it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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