The Choice Is Yours: Make Yourself Vulnerable, Or Give Up On Love

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Love scares the crap out of me. I'm saying this as someone who dissects and discusses love for a living.

It’s a beautiful experience, but it’s a frightening one -- which is also part of its appeal. It forces us to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. It makes us tear down the facade we've been holding up for most of the world to see. It makes us let complete strangers into our hearts.

The world is full of people who criticize what you do and who you are. From a young age, we learn that "being yourself" means being ridiculed and insulted. Kids like to pick on kids, and some adults never manage to grow up.

It makes sense, then, that so many people have a difficult time opening themselves up to others. They're reluctant to be vulnerable and let others into their lives.

Maybe things would be different if we lived on another planet. On this one, people hurt other people. Sometimes it's for sport. Sometimes it's to make themselves feel better about who they are. And sometimes there's no way to avoid causing someone else pain.

The more heartbreak you suffer, the less likely you are to fall in love in the future. You won't allow yourself to fall so easily.

There's a reason I'm using the word "allow." There's a whole lot more to love than simply meeting the right person. You have to make yourself vulnerable, or you might as well give up on your search.

You’ll never fall in love unless you make yourself vulnerable.

It just isn’t possible. There’s more to falling in love than simply liking how someone looks, acts and lives. There’s more to love than appreciating someone’s character traits, motivations, beliefs and dreams. The only way to love someone fully is to love the way this person loves you.

We don’t love people only for who they are. We love them for how they treat us. We love them for how they feel about us and for what we mean to them.

If you don't allow yourself to be vulnerable, you guarantee that your loved one will never know how special you are. People don't realize the sexiest and most beautiful part of human nature is our ability to be vulnerable. Without vulnerability, there's no trust. And without trust, there's no love.

If you don't open up, your partner won't know your true self.

I know you're not fond of parts of your past. You might not want to share some of them; you might want to forget them altogether.

You're not alone in this. And though it is best to hold back some information early on in the relationship, you do need to share all of yourself when the time is right. You need to share the good and the bad.

I’m a big believer in keeping the mystery alive. I don’t believe we need to know every single detail about the person we’re with. In time, all will be revealed. But you still need to take that first step; you need to let someone know you more fully.

Step back. Ask yourself why you're together. Why do you want to be in a relationship in the first place?

Avoiding loneliness is one thing, but it’s more than just that. What you’re looking for is someone to share your life with -- someone who will be there for you when no one else will.

That’s what love is, and the only way to achieve it is to make yourself vulnerable enough to get there.

Vulnerability can be beautiful with the right person.

It's frightening to take off the armor and step out from behind the wall you've built for yourself. You’re not a coward; you just know how the story usually ends. It ends with you being left hurt and alone.

I’m going to be straight with you: If you make yourself vulnerable, you’re going to get hurt. It’s inevitable. We have so many expectations of how things "should" go and how they "should" feel that we're bound to be disappointed.

But if it’s with the right person, it’s all worth it. Life isn't about avoiding pain. It’s about experiencing pain and heartbreak -- and then realizing we have it in us to keep going and pursue our dreams.

Worst-case scenario: You have your heart broken, and you learn some important life lessons.

Best-case scenario: Your dreams come true.

So how much is happily-ever-after worth to you? How much are you willing to put on the line? After all, the higher the risk, the higher the possible return.

If you're going to gamble on anything in life, let it be love.

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