Love can hurt. There’s no doubt about it.
Dr. Helen Fisher, a leading researcher on the neurology of love, recently cited a study claiming 40% of people who’d been dumped in the last two months experienced clinical depression, and 12% suffered from severe depression.
We can all relate. And after we hit rock bottom like that… just the idea of letting another person in again can scare us half to death. When someone approaches us, our body, mind, and soul all say hell no! We do everything we can to play it safe.
Then some of us completely over-correct. (Guilty!) We try “safe dating”- which usually turns out to be not so safe at all – because we assume it’s better for us than swearing never to love again. We pick a nice, innocent, low-risk guy because we assume they’ll never be able to hurt us. As you might expect, it usually backfires.
I would know.
MY JOURNEY BACK TO OPENNESS
After I left a two year relationship, I was desperate to fall in love with someone new. I knew I needed to make fresh memories, and share experiences in order to heal.
Here’s what happened: I ended up attracting a man who was the opposite of my ex. Was I really ready for that? Not exactly. Although I thought I was excited to meet someone new, I was terrified. I did everything I could to hide my vulnerabilities so I could never be crushed again.
Eventually, we broke up. His biggest complaint? I was too busy for him. For example, he thought it was weird that I would always leave early in the morning because I wanted to go running.
My biggest complaint? He was too much fun. He liked to go out too much. (I couldn’t keep up)!
The truth? I became super busy on purpose in an effort to seem “un-needy” – as a reaction to being “too needy” for my ex. Plus, there were a potpourri of benefits in making myself “un-needy.” “Un-neediness” meant I would never get close to this New Man, and thus protect my heart from damage.
UNFORTUNATELY, NOT ONLY WAS I BLOCKING MYSELF FROM POTENTIAL PAIN (REJECTION), I WAS ALSO KEEPING MYSELF FROM THE BIG GAIN (INTIMACY).
I realized we get no real rewards out of a relationship when we keep armor around our hearts. After all, the #1 reward of being in a relationship is getting to savor that delicious intimacy!
Ultimately, I realized that because I wasn’t ready to let this New Man in, I should let him go. I needed time to clear my head. And that’s when I realized a funny thing of the “a-ha” variety. I realized: Men actually need women to be a little bit needy of them! If you don’t need a man at all, he will become restless. Men are natural problem solvers! So, if you’re not ready to be make yourself “the right kinda needy” in a relationship, well, you’re not ready for a relationship at all.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE READY TO NEED HIM?
There’s no such thing as playing it safe when it comes to love. Love is for the thick-skinned. I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t been hurt. (If you’re on the recovering end of a breakup right now, remember: you’ll be ok, and there is someone else out there who’s perfect for you). It’s important that you give yourself time to heal before jumping into a new relationship. There’s a difference between hunting for a new person just to help you bandage your old wounds and having the courage to open your heart again.
The best thing that you can do after a breakup is give yourself time and space to explore your own needs before your next relationship. By giving yourself the chance to grow and change and blossom you’re less likely to repeat the mistakes you made in the past and less likely to bring baggage from your past relationship into your new one.
ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO LOVE AGAIN?
Being brave enough to love again doesn’t mean that you aren’t afraid to open your heart. It means that you’re willing to feel the fear and do it anyway. It means that you’re willing to be vulnerable even when you’re afraid and don’t think you know how to be.
As Anais Ninn said, “One’s life expands or shrinks according to one’s courage.”