Finding the balance between putting yourself out there to find love and protecting yourself can be confusing. It often seems like the actions you have to take to keep your heart safe directly conflict with those that help you to give love your all. But it is possible to look after yourself while still courageously throwing yourself into finding love. Read on to find out how!
- Follow your instincts. More often than not, following your gut feeling will help to keep you safe. We’ve all got an innate ability to recognize people and situations that threaten our wellbeing. If you listen to your inner voice when it comes to dating, you have a better chance of recognizing when someone is not acting in your best interest. Listen to your gut and be aware of anyone who makes you uncomfortable, even if you can’t put your finger on why that is.
- Practice self-love. Self-love is important because it reminds you of what you deserve. The more you love and respect yourself, the less you’re willing to put up with people who don’t treat you properly. So this is super crucial when you’re protecting your heart and simultaneously trying to find love. Protect your heart by demanding to be treated with an acceptable level of respect. It will get easier and easier to hold others to that standard when you hold yourself to it as well.
- Don’t betray your values. Maintaining your values won’t really stop someone from breaking your heart. But it’s another act of self-love—one that will help to make the foundation of your sense of worth stronger. And if someone does break your heart, you’ll be in a better position to deal with it because you’ll have those solid foundations. If you betray your values when it comes to dating, like going out with someone who is also seeing other people even though monogamy is important to you, you open yourself up to pain and resentment.
- Don’t rush things. When you’re trying to protect yourself from anything—it doesn’t matter what it is—it’s always better to go slowly. That definitely applies to finding love. Take your time and really think about what you’re doing. If there’s a decision you need to make, take your time and use your best judgment. When you rush the dating process, you can end up missing important signs that give you critical information about someone. And you can end up taking huge steps before you’re ready. To protect yourself, just take it slow and think through all your decisions carefully.
- Think things through logically. Most people use their hearts to make decisions about their love lives. Emotions are a huge factor when it comes to love, so it’s easy to understand why logic goes out the window. But if you want to protect yourself, it’s important to think with your head and not just with your heart. If you’re struggling with a decision about whether to trust someone or not, try to think logically. Feelings can mess up your ability to think clearly, so push those to the side. Instead, make your decisions based on facts and evidence.
- Get an outsider’s opinion. Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a situation, you’ll never be able to see it clearly. Every now and then, you have to get an outsider’s perspective. So to protect your heart while dating, rely on your support network to help you think things through. You might be so overcome with emotion that you can’t think clearly, but an objective third party will be able to. Have a friend whose advice you trust to weigh in on any situation you’re unsure about.
- Learn to categorize your thoughts. To avoid being too protective, learn to distinguish helpful thoughts from unhelpful thoughts. Notice your thought patterns and work out what is actually helping you and what’s just anxious blabbering that makes you feel worried. For example, you might think, “What if he’s cheating?” Ask yourself what evidence you have to support that. If you saw him meeting up with his ex and he regularly gets home after midnight, you might be onto something. But if he came home late one night and there are no other clues, it’s likely to just be an anxious thought that you don’t need to take seriously.
- Make your boundaries clear. You are the only person who can keep your heart safe by setting and enforcing oundaries. You can’t stop someone from hurting you but you can make clear what is and isn’t okay. If you set boundaries and make them clear, you’ll know when they’re being crossed. That means you’ll know when it’s time to ask that the other person treats you better. Or, alternatively, you’ll know when your line is being crossed too severely and it’s time to leave.