The post about Sam's reaction to what Dean likes reminded me of that time Sam told Dean, he knows him better than anyone, since he was looking up to him since he was 4. Do you think Sam really knows Dean? He seems surprised each time Dean expresses something he likes. I wonder if it's John's fault for molding Dean into himself, Dean himself for covering who he is/trying to be like John, or Sam not really trying to know his brother. Or all three 0.o
I think Dean is less covering who he is and is instead making choices to share only certain parts of himself, in order to protect himself (and to protect Sam, something he hasn’t entirely been able to stop attempting to do). The need to present one face to Sam started way back in their childhood. Dean knowing about the monsters and what John was doing and Sam having no clue.
So Dean was taught to lie from an early age, taught to make sure Sam was kept in the dark. And yeah, Dean did tell Sam everything, but then of course they were hiding that from John.
(from 3.08) So it’s just lies built on lies. And who knows how long that lasted. Not to mention, how much lying he was taught to do when it came to police and babysitters and whoever else (9.07).
Dean’s childhood was founded on lies and misdirection and balancing all the different facets of himself in order to keep going. A lot of Dean’s unwillingness (not inability) to share emotionally with others is because it’s a survival mechanism. That said, there have been times when he’s tried to share with Sam and it hasn’t gone well for him so he doesn’t always have great incentive to try again. A big example is the time Dean opened up to Sam about hell, and Sam took that emotional vulnerability for weakness and used it to justify to himself his continued use of the demon blood.
(4.14, 4.21, 5.02)
And for Dean, that only serves to reinforce his instinct to keep his feelings to himself. Not only to protect himself, but also as a misguided attempt to keep Sam from making wrong choices again. Dean’s got a lot of guilt about everything bad that ever happened to Sam because of the burden of responsibility put on him by John, so of course he’s going to keep his emotions to himself if he thinks its better for the team.
There are things Sam knows about Dean. Oftentimes, it’s the superficial stuff (11.23):
They’ve lived in each other’s pockets practically all their lives so of course he does know some of these things. He knows some of the important stuff too (3.07).
But what I don’t think he knows about Dean is why Dean feels more comfortable keeping his feelings to himself. And that’s a huge barrier in their communication. Dean doesn’t want to share, Sam wants him to share, Dean refuses, Sam insists and round and round they go.