Being Open to Love While Protecting Your Heart

It’s possible to do both at the same time.

It seems almost impractical, to be vulnerable while also feeling safe. The very definition of vulnerability entails a level of defenselessness. To truly experience love, we have to be open. We have to surrender the control that pride and ego wish to maintain in favor of offering the most honest, authentic version of ourselves.

How can we do such a thing while also protecting our hearts from abuse? I believe the answer is not in seeking to withhold anything in an attempt to avoid disappointment, but in practicing selective engagement.

When you value something, you’re choosy about who’s allowed to garner possession. It’s not community property that anyone can have or use. You definitely don’t continue giving it to the person who has already caused considerable damage. There are standards in place and enforced as to how it’s cared for by others.

Nothing is valuable if not our hearts.

As the saying goes, everything that we do flows from it. Our outlook on life, vitality, demeanor, state of mind, mental and emotional well-being, and the way we treat others stems from our hearts’ condition. If it’s not right, nothing else will be.

We can’t just entrust our hearts to everyone who comes into our lives, hoping that they’ll love us and treat it kindly.

There’s nothing wrong with having some type of vetting process — truly getting to know a person before handing over something so precious. Learn about their character, their intentions, and how they’ve treated past lovers. Find out if the two of you are even compatible.

Then, most importantly, act accordingly.

That’s not holding back or being closed off to possibility. It’s just doing your due diligence — practicing restraint, not resistance. If we handle our hearts carelessly, others will too.

There’s the type of protection that says I’m going to shelter you from harm and make sure that no one and nothing can get to you.

Then there’s protection that says I’m going to keep you safe from my own insecurities: I’m going to stand up for you. I’m going to fight for you. I’ll let people in that I’ve deemed worthy, but I won’t allow anyone to stay who doesn’t respect you or causes needless, constant aching. That’s the way we guard our hearts. That’s the way we remain open to love while doing so.

Rather than build walls that ultimately keep out both joy and pain, accept each as it comes. Because each will come regardless.

Hurt isn’t something we enjoy. Yet, even in our most secluded places and despite our best-laid plans, hurt manages to find us. When we acknowledge this reality, we understand that we really can’t protect against heartache. We can, however, cut down on its frequency and the instances of our suffering.

As is everything else in life, this concept is about balance.

Being extreme on either side will lead to self-deprivation or exploitation by others as far as our hearts are concerned. We should aim to be somewhere in the middle — open to love, giving ourselves the time and opportunity to cultivate love, yet honest with ourselves when love does not and cannot exist in a particular space.

Closed hearts don’t get fed.

Yet, an open heart, sheltered by boundaries, allows entry of choice opportunities most likely to render desired results.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.”

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