I get it: You’re suffering from PTLD (Post Traumatic Love Disorder). You opened your heart. You loved hard. You went all in. And then it happened: You were abandoned. Rejected. Hurt. Disrespected. Heartbroken.
You’re “over it” now, you’ve forgiven the other person and you’re moving on. But deep inside, you’re still struggling to drop your guards when you meet someone new. You pull away when he gets too close. You have trust issues. You feel like it’s too good to be true. You’re afraid to be open and vulnerable because you don’t want to get hurt again.
What you don’t understand is that to survive your breakup without having a breakdown, you made a secret vow that you’d never love again.
But today is a new day.
I want to tell you it is possible to love like you’ve never been hurt because you’re a different woman. Wiser. Stronger. Better.
How can you learn to be vulnerable in a relationship after you’ve been hurt?
First, you must understand that vulnerability is not weakness. Instead, as Brené Brown describes it, vulnerability means “the courage to show up and be seen, to ask for what you need, to talk about how you’re feeling, [and] to have the hard conversations.” When you’re clear on what it looks like to drop your guards, then you can embrace the second point.
The key that unlocks your ability to be vulnerable in a new relationship is this: You must accurately choose safe people to trust and use your God-given instincts to to only open up to the right man. Everyone isn’t a safe place for your heart and so you must use discernment.
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You must accurately choose safe people to trust and use your God-given instincts to to only open up to the right man.
Here are three times when it’s appropriate to let your guards down and be vulnerable in a new relationship.
Being Yourself On A First Date
If you send your representative to your first date and pretend to be someone you’re not, you’re not being vulnerable and you’re setting yourself up for a relationship that isn’t built upon the truth. For example, one of my clients said she was on a date with a man who told her that everyone who went to clubs was ratchet.
Even though she enjoyed going out dancing with her friends, she used to chuckle nervously and agree with a guy who thought every woman who went to club was less-than-wife material, because she wanted to prove she was worthy of being chosen. She’d end up in relationships that were boring because she wasn’t being authentic to who she was.
It takes courage to be yourself on a first date, but it’s worth it!
I told her that she never had to prove she was worthy of love and that she could be free to be herself. The right man would not only accept her, but he would adore those aspects of her personality she used to keep hidden. It takes courage to be yourself on a first date, but it’s worth it!
When He Does Something You Don’t Like
Let’s say you’ve been going out for a few weeks, and he’s been consistent with phone calls, planning dates, and following up with you. But then he does something that rubs you the wrong way. Maybe he looks at another woman while you’re out to eat. Or, he may get too sexual with you in his text messages. Perhaps he’s asking you very personal questions and you don’t feel comfortable talking about that part of your life yet.
Vulnerability will help you set boundaries because you will need to be honest and let him know how you feel and what you need to feel happy and secure with him. He can’t read your mind and may not know how to meet your needs unless you tell him.
Defining the Relationship
It’s so important not only to be upfront about what your relationship goals are early on in a relationship, but also to discuss your needs, must haves and deal breakers when you’re asking the “what are we” question.
Be honest! If you’re developing feelings for him even though you both agreed to take it slow and see other people, take a risk and tell him. The feeling may or may not be mutual, but hiding your feelings is a sure-fire way to sabotage a relationship before it even gets off the ground. Likewise, if you want marriage and he doesn’t, you need to honest with him and not pretend that you can change his mind about marriage later on in the relationship.
Brené Brown says that “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” Take the risk and open up.
BMWK, do you find it challenging to let down your guards in a new relationship? Tell your story below!