I’ve been called intense too many times to count. Intense has a pejorative connotation much of the time. When people told me I was intense, it was usually in the context of my feelings being too much to handle. They felt I was a burden, exhausting, overwhelming and a lot of other unflattering adjectives that I can’t recall at the moment. Why do people feel the need to tell other people that they’re “too much person?” That’s upsetting and hurtful, not to mention pointless. I’m not sure what the objective is; probably to make someone else feel guilty about having feelings. That’s not what it is, and I’m too emotionally exhausted to try to speculate someone else’s motivations.

What I can tell you is that historically, I’ve been extremely vulnerable in romantic relationships with men. When I fall in love with a man, I can’t help but open up and tell him everything about myself. It’s both painful and freeing at once, much like a good massage; it hurts, but it feels good. I’m not good at selectively revealing information, and in fact, when I try to withhold my emotions, they’ll come out in dysfunctional ways. I’ve abandoned the idea of partial vulnerability; it’s either I reveal myself or I don’t.

I have Mercury in Scorpio, which means that I’m bad at small talk and I want to connect on a deeper level. I like connecting with my man on an intimate level. I like that he knows my insecurities so that when I’m having a hard day, he can empathize. I feel loved when I cry, and he holds me; however, there’s also a part of me that’s terrified to be entirely open and honest. What if I get rejected? That would be scary, and I don’t want to get hurt for being myself.

When I am revealing my true self, it reminds me of when I studied acting. I was on stage performing a monologue, communicating my pain to the audience, imaging an experience in my life where my heart was broken, so I could access that pain. It felt freeing and cathartic to express my sadness and heartbreak, but it was also tremendously painful. That’s how I think about being in a long-term relationship with a man. I want to be vulnerable, I want to be honest and not hold back my feelings, but it scares the shit out of me. What I typically do is open up, get scared or angry and then shut down or hide.

I can’t help that that’s how I feel. There are only two men who understand my fear. Other than that, my fear and how I present it tends to frustrate┬ámen, and they grow impatient with how I can’t handle my feelings. I don’t want to irritate people, but I also can’t control how scary it is for me to be myself entirely with a man. There are reasons for this fear, and I can explain them, but it doesn’t make it easier for the man I’m with to cope with my behavior.

What can I do? Try my best to understand why I do things. Attempt to work on my behavior in therapy. I tried to talk about it with a couple’s counselor, not before I got married (which some people do) but after I was already with my ex. It was hard to open up about my fears, but I needed him to hear why I was pushing him away and he did understand.

I’m still trying to understand why. I’m grateful that my man now understands why I am afraid to be entirely vulnerable. He is patient with me, kind, holds me when I cry and doesn’t let me run away when it’s scary, which is the sign of someone who truly loves me.

What about you? Do you struggle to open up in relationships?