Navigating the dating world is rough.
There are friends and friends with benefits; there's hanging out, going out, talking and "official," just to name a few of the random labels being thrown around in the dating scene.
For those of us who have kept our guard up for so long, it takes a special someone to really open our hearts and allow us to be vulnerable with our emotions.
So after dealing with the myriad of fuckboys out there, when we meet a seemingly nice guy who allows us to feel safe emotionally, we begin to open our hearts.
We begin sharing some of our deepest fears, our desires and our insecurities. When we see a future with someone we wait to actually get to know someone before hopping into bed with them.
And then a couple weeks of feeling an intense connection with someone, you get friend-zoned. And you begin to wonder what the hell you did wrong.
You begin analyzing all the interactions you had together, you question opening your heart in the first place. And in an instant, you've rebuilt those walls you allowed to tumble down, but now, you've made them stronger and sturdier, with the intention of preventing yourself from feeling as shitty as you do now.
As easy as it is to close yourself off and shut down from love, I am here to challenge all of us who have been in this situation to open our hearts even more instead. What would happen if we allow our hearts to become stronger instead of crawling into our shells?
Choose to use your heart as the wall to protect you.
Your heart is a muscle. The only way to build strong muscles is to continue to use them. When we close our hearts off, we don't allow our heart muscle to work.
How can we expect to build a strong heart to deal with all of our emotions if we never work on it? A strong, loving heart is prepared to handle any hurtful blows that may come its way. Even a broken heart continues to feed the body.
Grow your heart by learning from the pain. Is there any way you can look at the situation and see how you may have played a role in hurting yourself? This isn't an excuse to go and blame yourself for whatever happened, but to understand how to learn from the experience so that you can continue to grow. That's what life is all about anyway- learning from our mistakes.
Love. Learn. And then go ahead and love some more.
There's a great analogy I've heard about our hearts being castles. When something approaches your heart, just like a castle, let it in with the drawbridge. Let your loving, strong heart protect you from any emotional attacks, letdowns and unhealthy relationships, just like the stone walls of the castle.
But you see, walls are built stone by stone.
Let your stones be loving acts both given and received, instead of defense mechanisms protecting you from ever being vulnerable. Give and always be grateful when receiving each piece of strength to your wall, knowing that there is always a drawbridge.
Love after love, our hearts become stronger. With each loss, a new layer of muscle rebuilds itself.
Why even have defense mechanisms?
So what exactly was the point of closing our hearts off in the first place? Nothing.
Maybe we can see it as a lesson to become more open. These defense mechanisms simply served to contain and block our beautiful hearts from being able to rebuild themselves and grow stronger. They actually made our hearts weaker.
The more you compound your defenses, the more you stifle your heart. The longer you wait to love, the more your heart rusts. Conversely, the more you simply love, the stronger your heart-wall becomes and the more able you are to absorb all the hurt and be able to build again.
So always remember, your heart is a muscle. And just like any other muscle in our body, it can only become stronger with use. So go out there and use your heart muscle, even or especially after it may have some recent bruises to it.