On Guard: Why It’s Okay To Be Cautious In Love

They say the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So when someone calls you too “guarded” when it comes to letting new people in, it’s kind of hard to believe that’s true (especially if you’ve been burned before.) And while it’s safe to say that to have a full, meaningful relationship you have to open yourself up eventually, here’s why keeping yourself guarded for awhile isn’t always such a bad idea.

  1. You’re learning from past hurt. You’re probably well-educated on getting the shaft in your past relationships and you’re painfully aware of how many times you listened to “Have You Ever?” by Brandy the last time the crap hit the fan.
  2. You’re protecting yourself. Being careful isn’t a bad thing. It’s hard not to try to block yourself off from feeling strongly about others when things haven’t worked out in the past.. You want to protect your emotions and that’s completely understandable– just be sure not to close yourself off completely. We need love, relationships, and friendships to live healthy, whole lives. There’s a balance to everything in life; with unparalleled pain also comes unparalleled joy. It’s important to let yourself feel it all.
  3. You’re recognizing your value. You know just how much time, energy, and heart you invest in your relationships and you’re not prepared to plunge headfirst into that with someone who won’t reciprocate.
  4. You understand that not everyone’s intentions are pure. Not everyone is on the same level as you. You’re not crazy; there are people who would hurt you and not feel bad about it. Your job is to try and to figure out who those people are before you’re 3 kids, a marriage, and a minivan in.
  5. You’re basing your opinion on the hundreds of relationships you’ve watched deteriorate over the years. Whether it be listening to your parents arguing in the kitchen or watching your best friend turn down pizza because she’s too upset about her breakup to eat, these images are always a nagging force in the back of your mind. It’s hard to tune them out and be hopeful about your prospects.
  6. You’re weeding out the bad seeds. They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince/princess but they fail to mention that you don’t have to tell each one of those frogs your deepest, darkest secrets along the way. Some of those frogs listen to Nickelback and think the Big Bang Theory is a funny show. No need to break off a piece of your heart for everyone who ribbits.
  7. You’re accepting you don’t have to let EVERYONE in. Being a completely open book with everyone who shows you a little attention can cause a lot of unnecessary drama. Use your judgement and be discerning of who you let in and you can save yourself a whole lot of headaches.

Remember that being guarded and careful isn’t always wrong, especially when it comes to people who you feel won’t reciprocate your commitment and love. And while closing yourself off completely is definitely the safest bet, it doesn’t always have the best payoff. Eventually you’ll find someone worthy of your vulnerability and when you do, I would encourage you to let them in. All those years of guarding your heart will be hard to break but it’ll be worth it to finally feel comfortable enough around someone to let your walls down. I can’t guarantee it’ll be all work out in the end, but that’s part of the beauty and excitement of being vulnerable.

“It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does.” – Peter McWilliams

Tiffany is a New Orleans-based boudoir photographer (lushboudoirla.com) and freelance writer. Follow her on instagram: @onesmallflower or view her boudoir photographs: @lushboudoir