Strolling down the streets of NYC this past weekend with a cronut in hand (true love does exist), I stumbled on some lovely street art urging passersby to: “protect your heart.” I thought it a nice sentiment until I realized that it’s the main thing wrong with dating today. We’re too busy fearing rejection and protecting ourselves from anything that could go wrong that we forget how to truly feel.
We hide behind screens swiping left instead of forming a lasting bond with another human. We read and reread texts, questioning whether it’s too soon to respond, god forbid we appear clingy. We convince ourselves that it’s better to play it cool than to blurt out that we like someone way too soon. We’re too damn busy protecting our hearts from rejection that we end up in a limbo of casual Netflix and Chill.
We feel less, care less, and invest less, because our egos matter more than how we feel about someone.
When we do swipe right and say yes to something great, we quickly seek something newer and shinier, outgrowing people faster than new dating apps can crop up on the market. We go on dates, or most likely just “hang out” – don’t you dare call it a date – rehearsing our childhood stories to near strangers, only to repeat it all again with the millions of other options available at our fingertips. It’s all over before it even has a chance to begin. We are ever fulfilling our desire for instant gratification at the expense of feeling anything that matters.
So please, don’t be afraid to leave your heart vulnerable.
A lifetime of protecting it, of keeping people and all the hurt that goes along with loving them at a distance, will surely leave it unbreakable. But an unbreakable heart is not one worth having. Because in a world of ambiguous labels and ghosting and keeping it casual, there is someone out there who will refuse to make you an option. There is someone out there who will promise to stay when you’re at your worst. When everyone is out there claiming they appreciate honesty but rarely give that courtesy to others, there is someone out there who will tell you the truth no matter what. You’ll never need to protect your heart with them because your heart will matter more to them than their own.
Modern dating may be built on shallow feelings, where vulnerability is seen as a weakness of character. Being vulnerable may be uncomfortable, and may leave you with sleepless nights tearfully wishing away everything you feel, but it’s also the bravest thing you can do. So put down that phone. Look around at a world that was built on love that could only exist with people exposing their souls to others no matter the fear of rejection.
Life is way too short to not tell people how you feel.
No matter what we tell ourselves, we all want the same thing. We are all looking for lasting love in an instant gratification world.