18 Ways to Protect Your Heart Before It Breaks from 18 Ways to Protect Your Heart Before It Breaks

18 Ways to Protect Your Heart Before It Breaks

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18 Ways to Protect Your Heart Before It Breaks

You can’t isolate yourself and live a lonely life because you think it’s safe. Humans are naturally social animals and they need to bond with others. This makes heartbreaks somewhat inevitable, but it doesn’t have to hurt as much as Hollywood makes it look. You can minimize the pain.

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Don’t be afraid of conflict

“If you give in to your partner because ‘it's not that big of a deal’ or ‘I'll let it go,’ you will build resentment,” Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Kathleen Oravec says. “Your partner will also get tired of constantly making decisions and plans.” This kind of dynamic is a set up for failure, she adds.

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Take your time

People in a new relationship are often driven by feelings of infatuation, Melody Li, LMFT-A, MA, Counseling + Couples Therapy, says. “They are always intense and strong and could inspire people to jump into being with someone.” The problem is, she adds, that infatuation lasts about 6 months to 2 years. Use that time to get on the same page about values, expectation, and the nature of your relationship, Li says.

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Consider a gratitude journal

A gratitude journal can be a nice tool for reflection, Oravec says. “It also helps with negative thinking because it shows there is more of a balance in life than you realize.” You can ask the person you’re dating to participate; sharing what you are thankful for can be a point of communication, Li adds.

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You don’t have to be “exclusive” right away

“It is not a bad thing to jump all in,” Oravec says. “But, it still means you can take it slow.” A lot of people become exclusive within weeks, but if you are doing it because you feel insecure without sealing the deal, then you need to work on yourself, she adds.

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Be transparent about your feelings

Slow it down and be open about your feelings for your partner, Li says. You want to get to know the person you’re with before you come to drastic conclusions, such as you want to marry him or her. Jumping to that conclusion right away doesn’t happen so often, Li says, especially today in the age of social media and online dating, Li says. But the other problem is that you may start to think you’re going to “meet someone better” and miss out.

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Don’t assume h/she is “The One”

A lot of people want to find “the one” and a lot of cultural and family pressure to be “coupled” can lead to that kind of pressure, Oravec says. “I believe you can't be in healthy coupledom until you are content and know yourself.” A lot of people want to skip that step of getting to know themselves, she adds.

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Set expectations for character

People often start a new fling with certain expectations, Li says. Don’t focus on temporary things such as what kind of job he or she has or whether they rent or own an apartment, but rather set expectations for a person’s character, she adds. “Listen, look and observe for those. Is he honest, hard-working, fun?”

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Talk about realistic expectations

Do you want to travel and take things slow or settle down? If you are secure within yourself, you should be able to talk about realistic expectations while dating, Oravec says. For example, you can let someone know that you would like a text so you know they are on their way. “You should talk about how you communicate in the days of social media.” One example she gives is “do you mind having photographs on Instagram?” Also, how do you pay for meals and drinks? Take turns, split it?

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Be honest about what you want

“Rather than wait for a sign that someone is not in it for long term, you tell them that you are looking for a serious relationship,” Oravec says. Ask them to be honest with you, she adds. “If they say they are just looking to hang out or be friends with benefits, you don't have to waste your time.” You need to speak up for what you want and need. 

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Look for consistency

Look for signs that your partner is not looking for anything long-term or at least not looking for the same thing as you. Li recommends looking for consistency. Is he or she saying one thing one day and then another the next day? “Tell them it’d be helpful for you to understand what’s going on,” she adds.

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Don’t compare your relationship to others’

It is never good to compare yourself to others,” Oravec says. All people and relationships are unique. Someone may be happy with his or her partner because they are both in it for financial security and never have sex, she adds. The arrangement works for them but it may not be something you want. Also, keep in mind that what you see on social media isn’t necessarily what you have behind closed doors, she adds.

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Listen to heart, mind and body

“Emotions give important information but not the full information,” Li says. Check with the logical part and feelings, too.” Ask yourself if a situation or something he or she said makes sense or if you two have the same values? Check with your instincts, too. What is your gut saying, is this getting dangerous?

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Have you settled?

“If you have settled for less than what you deserve, you have work to do, Oravec says. “Are you scared to be alone? Insecure? Low self-esteem?” It makes better sense to figure yourself out and what you need and want before you commit to a relationship, she adds.

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Let your guard down a bit at a time

Share something intimate and see how your partner reacts, Li says. “Is he supportive, does he keep it private?” Gradually build trust that way; don’t spill all of your secrets at once, she adds. Otherwise you leave yourself vulnerable without knowing if he or she is trustworthy, Li says. This is a big risk.

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Talking is good

“Talking is good and is full of information,” Oravec says. Expressing how you feel is the key, she adds. So is learning how to be a good listener. Both genders need to work at it, she says. You want to make sure you’re not moving too fast, Li adds, and the way to do it is by being open about what you hope for early on. You don’t want to be misled, and you don’t want to mislead.

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Don’t forget your own goals

Giving into another person’s dreams at the expense of yourself is never a good idea, Oravec says. “There has to be compromise and true understanding. “If you are staying in a mountain town while your partner finishes school and you want to be near an ocean, it makes sense to plan to move to the ocean when they finish school,” she adds. “Talk about expectations and shared sacrifice.”

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Consult with close friends

“It could be helpful to consult with close friends you trust,” Li says. It’s not helpful to compare, but an honest friend can open your eyes about something you may not be seeing clearly in your relationship. Just be careful whom you choose to listen to.

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Trust yourself

No one knows you better than you know yourself. “You can run things by friends and family, but I recommend being boundaried if they will be upset if you don’t follow their advice,” Oravec says. You don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for signs but you will notice them if they show up. Don’t ignore them. This will only make the inevitable breakup more painful than it should be.

18 Ways to Protect Your Heart Before It Breaks