CLOSED HEARTS
Marianne Williamson


"No one can doubt the ego's skill in building up false cases. "


I once knew a man who came on very strong at the beginning of
relationships, but couldn't seem to
help closing his heart as soon as a woman had opened hers. I have
heard that kind of behavior
referred to as an "addiction to the attraction phase" in
relationships. This man did not maliciously
go around hurting women. He sincerely wanted to be in a genuine,
committed relationship. What
he lacked were the spiritual skills that would enable him to
settle down in one place long enough to
build anything solid with an equal partner. As soon as he saw
human faults and weaknesses in a
woman, he would run. The narcissistic personality is looking for
perfection, which is a way of
making sure that love never has a chance to blossom. The initial
high can be so heady, so
tantalizing, that the real work of growth which needs to follow
the initial attraction phase can seem
too dull, too hard to commit to. As soon as the other person is seen


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to be a real human being, the ego is repelled and wants to find
somewhere else to play.
At the end of a relationship with someone like this, we feel as
though we've taken cocaine. We
had a fast and very exciting ride, and it felt at the time like
something meaningful was happening.
Then we crashed and realized that nothing meaningful had happened
at all. It was all made up. Now
all we have is a headache, and we can see that this kind of thing
isn't good, isn't healthy, and we
don't want to do it again.
But there's a reason why we're attracted to relationships such as
this. We were drawn to the
illusion of meaning. Sometimes someone who has nothing to offer in
a real relationship can come
on like they're offering the world. They are so dissociated from
their own feelings that they have
become highly skilled performers, unconsciously playing whatever
part our fantasies prescribe. But
the responsibility for our pain still remains our own. If we
hadn't been looking for a cheap thrill, we
wouldn't have been vulnerable to the lie.
How could we have been so stupid? That's the question we always
ask ourselves at the end of
these experiences. But once we've had enough of them, we admit to
ourselves that we weren't really
stupid at all. We suspected this was a drug. The problem was, we
wanted it. We saw exactly what
the game was with this person, usually within the first fifteen
minutes, yet we were so attracted to
the high, we were willing to pretend we didn't see it, for just a
night, or a week, or

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however long it lasted. The fact that someone said to us, "You
are so fabulous. You're such a
wonderful woman. This is such a great date. How lucky a guy is to
get to date you," when he's only
known you for an hour, is a blinking red light to any thinking
woman. The problem is, the depth of
our wounds can be so great-we can be so hungry to hear those
words, because deep down we
suspect that they're untrue
that hearing them can cause us to put aside all rational
considerations. When we're starved, we're
desperate.
Women say to me sometimes, "Marianne, why do I always meet
emotionally abusive men?"
My answer is usually the following: "The problem is not that you
met him-the problem is that you
gave him your number." The problem, in other words, is not that
we attract a certain kind of person,
but rather that we are attracted to a certain kind of person.
Someone who is distant emotionally
might remind us, for instance, of one or both of our parents.
"His energy is distant and subtly
disapproving-I must be home." The problem, then is not just
that we are offered pain, but that we
are comfortable with that pain. It's what we have always known.
The flip side of our dangerous attractions to people who have
nothing to offer us is our
tendency to feel bored by people who do. Nothing that is alien to
our system can enter into us and
stay there for long. This is true whether we're talking about
something taken into our bodies or into
our minds. If I swallow a piece of aluminum foil, my body will
regurgitate until the


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offending object is expelled. If I'm being asked to swallow an
idea that doesn't "agree" with me,
then my psychological system will go through the same process of
regurgitation in order to expel
the offending material.
If I'm convinced that I'm not good enough, I will have a
difficult time accepting someone into
my life who thinks I am. It's the Groucho Marx syndrome of not
wanting to like anyone who
would want me in their club. The only way that I can accept
someone's finding me wonderful, is if I
find myself wonderful. But to the ego, self-acceptance is death.
This is why we're attracted to people who don't want us. We know
they're not into it from the
gate. We pretend to be surprised later when we find ourselves
betrayed and they leave after an
intense but fairly short stay. They fit perfectly into our ego's
plan: I will not be loved. The reason
that nice, available people seem boring to us is because they
bust us. The ego equates emotional
danger with excitement, and claims that the nice, available
person isn't dangerous enough. The irony
is that the opposite is true: available people are the ones who
are dangerous, because they confront
us with the possibility of real intimacy. They might actually
hang around long enough to get to
know us. They could melt our defenses, not through violence but
through love. This is what the ego
doesn't want us to see. Available people are frightening. They
threaten the ego's citadel. The reason
we're not attracted to them is because we're not available
ourselves.


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