Posted By: Kelly Seal Date: 08-28-2017 Comments: 0
When you fall in love, you put your heart on the line. It takes courage to pursue an intimate relationship, to risk getting your heart broken. But the rewards are amazing and enrich our lives – the feeling of falling in love, of being with someone special. So we are willing to take our chances.
But let’s face it. Rejection hurts. Nobody likes to feel they’re not “enough” for someone else, or that the attraction isn’t mutual, or that a budding relationship is not going to work out like they’d planned. It can be embarrassing to accept rejection; a real hit to your ego. And sometimes because of this, we shield our hearts to avoid the pain.
If you take rejection in dating so personally that you avoid getting too attached to anyone you date, it might be time for a change. There is a difference between ego preservation and opening your heart. If you want to date successfully, it’s important to know what triggers you to shut down versus becoming vulnerable and opening your heart. In other words, it’s important to learn how to separate your ego from your heart.
Let me explain with an example. Fred has been on a few dates with Sara, and he finds himself very attracted to her. She is a little mysterious, and sometimes acts flirtatious and playful and other times reserved and distant. He isn’t sure whether or not she’s interested in him, but he wants to keep dating her, to see where the relationship could go.
But Sara decides after date number four that she’s not really interested in Fred. He’s a nice guy and she likes him, but she doesn’t want a romantic relationship. So she thanks him for the date and suggests they go their separate ways. Fred is somewhat humiliated. He paid for a couple of expensive dinners, only to have her break up with him for “no reason.”
Instead of accepting the rejection and her feelings and moving on, he blames Sara for his pain, for the relationship not working out. He tells himself a story to preserve his ego: that Sara wasn’t ready for a relationship, or that she’s shallow because he’s not her physical type, or that she was using him. He knows he’s a good guy, that he is eligible and would make a great boyfriend, and that he treated her kindly. But Sara refused to pursue him romantically. The conclusion he draws is: Sara is to blame.
Fred wants to preserve his ego in the face of rejection. It’s understandable, but it’s not very helpful for his dating life. When he dates the next woman and faces possible rejection, he might be more distant, or put forth less effort, ensuring that he won’t fall in love. He’ll make assumptions about the future of each new relationship before it’s had a chance to blossom, because he wants to preserve his ego. In other words, he will sabotage his love life.
Brene Brown, an author and sociologist who writes about vulnerability and handling our fears, says….
“Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brown advocates for us to embrace our vulnerability, because this is where people truly connect. You can’t fall in love without risking your heart. There’s no room for ego when it comes to love. Your ego will only get in the way and try to minimize your risk.
If you want to fall in love, you have to maximize your risk. Over and over again. You have to be willing to get back up, shake off the dust, and move forward despite your fears and vulnerability. This takes true courage.
In my previous example, instead of hardening his heart in the face of rejection, Fred could choose to soften and let go. He could accept that Sara just doesn’t feel the same way, and not take it as a hit to his ego. Instead of seeing rejection as a consequence of not measuring up to a woman’s standards, he could view it as a positive. His pain shows him that love is possible, and that finding it with someone who returns the affection is the ultimate goal.
He could also remind himself that when he meets the right person, his previous broken hearts will be the valuable experiences in his life that led him to finding his match.
So be brave, embrace your vulnerability, and try to keep your heart open. Your ego will seek to isolate and protect you, keeping away the possibility of love. But we connect when we show our true selves. This is what love teaches us.