Things have been going so well between us that it just might be love… but not if I have anything to say about it. While you’re falling for me, I’m falling right back into my old ways. Those butterflies in my stomach? They’re in full-on panic mode. The threat of being hurt by love again is so strong that it’s not just easier to sabotage this relationship before it really starts — frankly, it’s hard not to.

You haven’t hurt me yet, but you could. My feelings for you are so strong that they terrify me. The higher you make my jaded little heart soar, the farther it has to fall. When you tell me that you’d never hurt me, I genuinely want to believe you — but the fear that that could be a lie is always going to be there in the back of my mind.

I’ve lost in love a lot of times before. My paranoia is firmly grounded in the foundations that others before you laid. Lying, cheating and dishonest behavior — I never even realized I was playing with fire until I wound up burned. My doubts about true love were born from a long-running history of let-downs. If I was just coming into this with baggage, you could help me shoulder the load — but instead, I’m coming into this with scars.

You can’t hurt me if I hurt you first. If I’m lashing out or trying to cut and run, it’s not you — it’s me. Fear can turn a person hard and cruel, and it’s turned me into a vicious monster on more occasions than I can count. It’s not fair to you that I’m the epitome of damaged goods, but that won’t stop me from going on the offensive just to guard my heart.

It’s safer to be the first one out the door. I can cut and run at the drop of a hat. I’ve found myself stuck in a relationship as it was crumbling around me too many times before, and I never want to be in that position again. Once, I was too scared of being alone to know when to leave, but I’m not that person anymore. Now, I have so little tolerance for BS that it’s actually become a problem — because at the first sign of danger, I’m gone.

I feel more in control if all of this is my fault. When it comes to arguments, we’ll never have any trouble divvying up the blame. I’ll claim it all for myself and be out the door before you can even consider where you might have gone wrong. If I’m the mean one, the angry one, the liar, the cheat, then all of the power is in my hands — and I would take that over feeling powerless again any day.

It’s easy to find an escape route when you’ve already planned one. While you were gazing lovingly into my eyes, I was locating the nearest exits. When you’re afraid of love, your every move begins to have a contingency plan. So if I act like a trapped animal, it’s not because you make me feel unsafe — I just don’t want to end up gnawing off my own arm if things start to go south.

Opening yourself up to love is brave… and I’m a coward. Some people learn and grow from the pains of their past, but I’m just sitting here biding my time until I can feel justified in my fear. That’s right, I’m a coward. I don’t want to give up on love, but I’m too afraid to let love prevail. From past experience, it never has before, and every

I’m secretly hoping if I leave, you’ll be the one who asks me to stay. As scared and anxious and nervous as a real, meaningful relationship makes me, deep down, I want to believe in the true love that romance novels and Nicholas Sparks movies have promised me. I want to believe that you’re different, that you can handle me, that you really could be the one who builds me up instead of breaking me apart. And so even as I’m walking out the door, don’t think for a second that I’m not looking over my shoulder, hoping you’ll say, “Don’t go.”

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