Relationships: Heal Your Heart and Let Love In
Break down the walls keeping you from love
The quest to find that special someone can be daunting at times. All too often, we think we’ve found the love of our lives, only to discover one – or a dozen – warts once we get to know him.
After a woman has experienced disappointment after disappointment, it’s all too easy to put up walls and try to keep love out. After all, it’s much easier to not love at all, than to love and risk getting hurt.
The Catch-22 is that if we don’t break down those walls, we won’t ever find that love we’ve been seeking. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to actually trust again, and let your heart open up to love. It can be scary to love again, but each time we love, we learn a little more about ourselves and what we are capable of achieving.
Reasons for not being ready
Tina Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, said there are eight common reasons women may not feel comfortable being open and available for love:
- You've been burned before: If you got hurt or disappointed in a prior relationship, you might be reluctant to take another risk.
- Shyness: Being afraid of meeting new people will hold you back from meeting the person you can fall in love with. No matter how cool you may be in your business dealings, with your friends, or in front of strangers you don't want to date, if you're contemplating meeting people to date, you may stammer, get tongue tied, blush, fidget, look at everything but the person, your heart may race, and you can find yourself breaking out in all kinds of mannerisms that remind you of being a teen.
- Holding out for Mr. Right: If you reject everyone who seems less than perfect at first glance, you might reject the very one you could fall in love with, if you got to know their finer qualities.
- Growing up in a dysfunctional family: Growing up with parents who fought a lot or were angry, cold or violent; or with a divorced or single parent who couldn't develop relationships that lasted can leave you without a skill set for finding and making a connection with a healthy person
- Sex too soon: Having sex right away changes your connection from possible relationship to one-night stand. You can cease to be a person in your date's eyes, and just become a booty call.
- Body image issues: If you're too self-critical about your body and your looks, you may be so self-obsessed that you never even notice when someone else likes you, and you miss your chance.
- Sexual hang-ups: if you're too focused on sex, or too repressed about it, you'll be reluctant to allow intimacy and love to grow.
- Violent history: If you were in a previous violent relationship, you'll have PTSD that will stop you from taking another risk.
Getting back into the game
After a breakup, it can be tough to start dating again. And even more difficult to open up to love.
Jodi Riley, a dating coach and radio show host of MOD Love, said, “Once a woman decides to let love in, she must first address the beliefs and thoughts that she has been using to keep her walls intact. Is she comparing all new partners to an old one? Does she believe all of partners will be the same? Does she think she has bad luck or makes bad choices? Once she know what the thoughts and beliefs are, she can work on changing them so that she can move on and allow herself to open up to love. The most common belief to overcome is that we can't trust our own feelings and decisions about love. If this is the case, she must learn to trust her judgment and intuition about relationships again.”
It’s also time to address any behaviors that might be keeping a woman alone. “Does she reject others before they can reject her? Does she simply ignore people who may want to date her? Does friend zone everyone before she gives them a chance? Once she can pinpoint those behaviors, she can change them to allow herself the opportunity to get to know someone enough to see if she could be in a relationship with them. Once she can deal with the thoughts, beliefs and behaviors, any woman can open herself to allowing the possibility of love again,” Riley said.
Examine your feelings
Not everyone is ready, yet, to push down walls and let love in, said Toni Coleman, a psychotherapist and relationship coach.
“If a woman has trauma or past issues that she hasn’t dealt with, it is likely they will be triggered if she begins dating or when she becomes serious with a guy. Therefore, if this is the case, I recommend she work on herself and her issues first in order to find healing, which should help her move on and take those first few steps into the dating pool and eventually towards commitment.”
“If a woman is an introvert, has little dating history and/or has always been anxious or hesitant about commitment, she would benefit from examining her feelings about men, dating and relationships. She could have some insecurities, negative beliefs about relationships, or just a fear of intimacy. These can all be worked with, but each requires a plan that is tailored to her needs,” Coleman said. “Setting boundaries, saying no, and knowing it is okay to take a step back would help her self-esteem and help her to feel as though she is capable of being in a relationship.”
Tessina said to remember, “you need love the most when you feel you deserve it the least.”
“This was a recent epiphany of mine, although I'm sure it's been said many times before. I find that it is most difficult to accept love and understanding from others when I'm in a state of anger, shame, anxiety, or depression. But adopting the above truth really shifted my perspective and made me realize that love is actually the greatest gift I can receive during such times.”
Tessina said it’s also important to fully accept and make peace with the “now” before you can reach and be happy with the “later.”
“One thing I've learned about making changes and reaching for the next rung on the ladder is that you cannot fully feel satisfied with where you're going until you can accept, acknowledge, and appreciate where you are. Embrace and make peace with where you are, and your journey toward something new will feel much more peaceful, rewarding, and satisfying,” she said.
You need love the most when you feel you deserve it the least.