Like everyone out there, I’ve tried my luck at love and I’ve been hurt many times. I could’ve shut myself off and bitterly sworn to be alone forever, but I understand the importance of having good relationships and I do still believe in good relationships. That’s why I want to keep myself open to love despite all the bad memories and difficult emotions still creeping up on me. I’m scared of getting hurt but, at the same time, I don’t want to let my past hurt get in the way of me being happy in the present. Love isn’t at fault. Love is good.
Here’s how I stay hopeful (and what you can do, too):
1. Take your time
After a not-so-happy ending, don’t rush into anything. Don’t even rush into healing. This is the time to just let yourself be, no matter how messy, miserable, or confusing everything seems. During this period, it’s normal that you go through a lot of negative, pessimistic, hopeless thoughts, leading you to believe you will never find love again, but they will pass. Don’t hold onto these thoughts, but don’t fight them either. Don’t force yourself to be positive.
The positivity will come with the healing, and the healing comes when you give yourself enough time to grieve, to accept reality, to reflect, to love yourself again. This might take a few months, or even a few years, and it’s okay. Resolve your emotional hang-ups before getting involved with new people, and when the time comes, you will feel emotionally free and ready again.
2. Surround yourself with good love
Getting hurt many times can make you lose faith in love, but not all relationships hurt you — only the bad ones do. So, while you take your time to heal, surround yourself with the love that comes without the hurt: love from family, close friends, or your pets, and love from doing what you truly enjoy. Then you can shift your focus from taking love to giving love to others and let it add joy and meaning to your days.
You will realize, fortunately, that love doesn’t just exist in romantic relationships. Love is available in many shapes and forms, and it’s enriching all the same. Fill yourself up with the love that’s ready for you and especially love from yourself. Slowly, gradually, it will override the fear of getting hurt again.
3. Adopt these constructive mindsets
After a relationship ends, it’s easy for you to doubt yourself and frame your past experiences negatively, which then damages your self-esteem and outlook on life. But you don’t have to. These following mindsets will help you look at things in a more mature, constructive way:
First, not everyone chooses you, just like you don’t choose everyone, and it’s okay.
Secondly, when someone doesn’t want you and leaves you, it says more about them and your interactions with each other than it says about you as an individual. They make their decision based on a limited, subjective perception of you, their previous experiences with other people and their personal circumstances, which are out of your control.
And third, a relationship’s outcome depends on compatibility, chemistry, and timing — Inherent worth is irrelevant.
Keeping these perspectives in mind, you don’t have to overthink the ending or blame yourself for anything that went wrong. Instead, you can move forward with your self-esteem intact.
4. Let go of your baggage
With each failed relationship, your baggage gets a little bit heavier. But you don’t have to carry it with you forever. Allow yourself to leave your baggage in the past where it belongs. You’re you now, not you yesterday, not you a month or a year ago. You might have had negative experiences, and they might have changed you in certain ways, but they are not you. It’s more important how you look back on these experiences and tell your stories now. You always have a choice to choose positivity and carry yourself with confidence — no one can stop you from this.
If you want to open yourself to love, you have to first believe that you deserve love, and it means letting go of any self-limiting beliefs and narratives. It’s time to close the chapter of “I have been hurt too many times, I’m scared” and step into the fresh pages of “I was hurt in the past but I’m stronger and wiser for it and I’m ready for a relationship now.”
5. Just do it
If you want to be open to love, you will have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable means you’ll risk getting hurt again. There’s no way around this. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and embrace the unknown. No one wants to have their heart shattered again and again; no one can guarantee you a happy ending. But because good love is worth it, despite all else, you just open your heart to welcome it in anyway.
But this time, it won’t be a reckless gamble. The past hurt is not for nothing. Thanks to it, you have learned so much about yourself, especially how to make yourself happy and what you want and need from a relationship. You’re in no rush to get to know new people and assess your compatibility with each other. Letting them inside won’t be a hasty decision. It won’t be a case of wearing your heart on the sleeves. It will be an informed choice coming from a place of self-love, self-care, and self-respect. And it will be okay.