When Kerry David and I started making Seeking Happily Ever After, a feature-length documentary that explores why there are more single 30-something women in the U.S. than ever, we had theories about why women are staying single longer and whether the trend would stick. We learned quite a bit along the way, and are often asked about our biggest take-away when it comes to love and relationships. In honor of Valentine's Day tomorrow, I'm sharing my own response.
I’m talking about the invisible walls you may have put around your heart over time without realizing it. At a certain point, just about all of us have had our heart put through a meat grinder, leaving us feeling vulnerable and wounded. It does not matter whether it was caused by a boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, parent or someone else we loved and trusted. It’s natural to put up a wall of resistance so that it won't--make that can’t--happen again. Once we get past the endless grieving—complete with baskets of wadded-up tissues, empty ice-cream cartons of Rocky Road, and a sprained ear from all the time spent calling friends—we conclude, “Well, I am not allowing myself to be that vulnerable again.”
The problem with that plan is that you can’t experience real love if there’s a wall around your heart. People can sense you being closed off right away, and read it as emotionally distant. To enjoy intimacy with another being, we need to allow ourselves to remain open. (This, of course, holds just as true if we are in a serious relationship or even married to the person). We must make an intentional choice to be courageous. Of course, we have to be mindful of whom we are opening up to; there’s no reason to do it with someone we don’t trust. But when our gut says this person is deserving, it's up to us to smash down those walls and take a chance, knowing we can survive it either way.
To read what my friends Kerry and Jacquie (the main character) had to say, visit Onely.org.
I am a journalist, filmmaker, author, wife, and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. My most recent project is I Love Mondays: And other confessions from devoted working moms. Other projects explore raising only children, happily ever after, raising strong girls, and hot topics for Jewish women.
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