So you've met a girl. She is funny, beautiful, sassy, sweet, caring, everything you have ever wanted in a woman, but she is guarded. You haven't learned the ins and outs of her life yet but you can tell she is putting walls up around you. These walls are carefully crafted in order to protect herself from getting hurt, again. Life has not been kind to her and you may be everything she has dreamed of, but, on the outside, you look like a threat. If she was to be honest with you, she'd say you scare her to death. She likes you more than she knows how to express but every fiber of her being is on edge around you. Her heart wants to let you in but everything inside her is screaming, "Run! Cut it off. Don't let him in. He might not be trustworthy and might take advantage of you emotionally or, even worse, physically. Or he might be amazing, you resist the urge to run, let him in and he hurts you anyways. Maybe he will get tired of you and move on. Or maybe your fears of being unlovable are true and he realizes he wasted his time."
Being pursued isn't something that comes naturally to her because she is used to taking care of herself. Her walls aren't just defense mechanisms, they are also a well-crafted fortress to protect her from people and situations that could possibly cause pain. Usually she is extremely good at keeping men at a distance but somehow you got close enough that she let down a wall, and that's even scarier than being so guarded that no man gets close. This may be frustrating for you if you don't take the time to understand her. She is used to either cutting men out of her life before things get serious or them giving up on her because they don't want to take the time to earn her trust.
Take the time to earn her trust. Yes, she is extremely guarded. Yes, those walls are very hard to climb. Yes, she will probably, at some point, try to run away from you. But please, don't give up on her. She needs someone to teach her what love looks like. It may take awhile but if you are willing to love her through her defense mechanisms and aversions to pain, you will help her heal. You can't necessarily heal her by your own strength, but you can help her on the journey of learning to heal herself. She needs you to love her unconditionally and refuse to give up on her. She needs someone to understand her and fight with her when she wants to respond with fear instead of faith. You can't be her savior because she already has one, but you can help her learn she is worth loving.
This girl is special. She has been through hell and still walks around with a smile on her face. She is brave and willing to fight when others would give up. She has experienced pain intimately and she is still learning how to deal with it but she keeps going. Teach her what healthy intimacy looks like. Show her that being loved can be scary but it is worth it. Show her that she can be vulnerable with you over time and you won't judge her or run away. She needs to see what a real man looks like and maybe you can be that for her.
Yes, loving a girl who has been through tremendous pain is not for the faint of heart. She needs a warrior who can be both gentle and courageous. She doesn't need you to try and deal with your fantasies with her or try to change her into something she isn't. She needs to be loved just that way she is so that she can grow into something even better. If you are ready to love the guarded woman you see before you then be ready for a journey. It may take awhile and come with a few emotional walls to climb but once you gain her trust, she will love you relentlessly.