Finding true love may seem impossible, especially since it’s so difficult to find someone you even click with. There are a lot of toxic fish in the sea. Still, you know you must try again, pushing yourself to be vulnerable. You’ve gambled your heart before, and been hurt. You’ve learned to play it “safe.” But after finding another person deserving of your love, you feel like you’re swimming with a shark.
Fearing inevitable pain, you pull back. Then, so does the other person. This push-pull dynamic will stop you from getting “too close,” but your chances for true love is a long shot. This self-protection is a form of self-sabotage, and could be holding you back in many areas of your life.
Below are five ways to overcome fears related to being “too vulnerable” and getting hurt, so you can reclaim your right for true love.
1. Switch up the goal. Instead of self-protection, practice standing confident regardless of what happens.
- No matter how much you try, you cannot control how the other person feels. There is no certainty on how the relationship will go. The more you TRY for certainty, the more you are certain to be miserable. Remember how s/he fell for you, seeing that lighter, confident you. When you continue to invest in yourself—so will s/he. Playing a defense game will neither help you score relationship points, nor strengthen your bond.
2. File the past hurts. Understanding how you learned to fear closeness and working through it.
- Understanding and accepting is important for the brain to file away the past. You don’t readily think about your 5th birthday or your first break up, but it is in the file to pull out when needed. This is because you have an understanding that makes sense. When you have a push-pull dynamic with your partner, you have not filed the hurts of who made you feel rejected or hurt you in the past. Understanding why it occurred and reminding yourself how this is different than the past will help put those earlier experience in the file drawer.
3. Break the danger lens. You can’t look at life through an old lens—time to give it an upgrade.
- When we are on the defense we are looking for facts to confirm “it’s not safe” through a skewed lens with a good intention of not getting hurt. The consequences are that we block out facts to show evidence for what is true, logical and healthy so we don’t take the risk. Look for evidence FOR it being a worthwhile risk and that regardless of whether it works out you WILL survive it.
4. Gain people capital. Invest in good people to support your self-confidence.
- Take time to nurture the good relationships that you have. If it’s time for a friend’s upgrade take some mild risks and join groups with like-minded people. Whether it is a club, spiritual group, meet-up, or fitness group, just take the leap. Gaining good people capital is healthy. It is the perfect safety net for the ebbs and flows with your partner.
5. Wager your heart. Gamblers tend to lose: wager with calculated risks based off your knowledge and experience.
- The same criteria that you have for your friendships should go for your partner. If you are dating people that you would never want your potential daughter to date—then incorporate that into your screening process. If you are with someone who is like you and holds your values, it is likely a low risk that you will be duped—but there is still no guarantee.
If you have no reason to believe you are dating or married to a shark, it’s important to love openly with wild abandon or else you will be at risk for REAL abandonment. If your partner has a good heart, you can only retreat into your shell for so long before things go south.
Let me conclude by saying that life is too short to keep it safe. Sure you can change nothing and still live a good life. But, you can have an amazing life by getting off the defense and taking some healthy risks.