“I don’t want to be hurt”

A man I met online shared this in an early email. His ex-wife cheated on him and he hasn’t dated since his divorce seven years ago. He said it was because he didn’t want to get hurt again.

riskI explained that nearly all relationships include some hurt at some point. Maybe it happens because of a misunderstanding or unmet expectations. But in all but rare cases there is some kind of hurt, especially in long-term relationships. Heck, hurt can occur with friends, but is more common with romantic situations as the expectations are higher.

Life — if you live it vigorously — involves risking hurt. When you put yourself out there, from asking for a date, to asking for a plum assignment at work, you put yourself on the line. The stakes are higher the more emotionally involved you are. But if you don’t take the risk to open your heart you’ll also never have the possibility of deep love and connection.

When I think of risk and dating, I think of athletes. They risk injury every time they train for and play their sport. If they were afraid of injuring themselves, they would never practice nor play. How rewarding would that be?

So it is with romance. If you aren’t willing to risk getting your heart bruised, you can never find love. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll never experience the pain of heartache. But if you do, know it is part of living and loving with gusto.

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15 responses to ““I don’t want to be hurt””

  1. Mitsy Avatar

    Well, I’ve been hurt in ALL of my past relationships, and it does take me quite a long time to be able to get past the last one, depending on how much I liked the guy, how long we dated, etc. But, I have met a couple guys who really did have past hurts that they were not soon forgetting. I felt like a couple were comparing me to their ex’s and didn’t want to be hurt again, despite the fact that I was sure I was very different from their past girlfriends.

    The “not wanting to get hurt” theme can be echoed by both sexes, and I’ve also used that as the reason not to get involved with someone or even date at all until I felt emotionally ready. Men, on the other hand, sometimes don’t acknowledge that they are not ready to date until they have gone out with someone a time or two and when they make the snap decision that the woman isn’t long-term material, reality sets in that maybe they are not even in the position to decide what could be long-term or not because they are too afraid of getting hurt. They dump the girl before they even give her a chance and that was my experiences (in a nutshell) with online dating. I met some decent-looking, interesting men who simply were not ready to date or they backpeddled when they KNEW that I was interested in long-term, not just a casual date here and there. Many had on their profiles that they wanted committed relationships, but in reality they were not ready for such a venture and few were willing to take the time or energy to go through the process to find that committed relationship.

    A couple of those guys took their profiles down right after giving me the brush-off and I sincerely did not believe that either of them had “found” someone else during that time. I think they maybe realized that online dating is not just a “hobby or a “pastime” for most women. They were not willing to risk getting hurt or risk putting in the required time and effort to get the prize – which was a committed woman. If that was never their intention, then they lied by posting false or misleading profiles and leading women on. In the end, I think it is all just another excuse of them “not wanting to get hurt” but it takes a big man to admit that he’s willing and ready to make that “dating commitment” and move on with their life rather than worrying about being hurt. If you risk nothing, you will gain nothing and that goes for just about everything in life.

  2. hunter Avatar


    try not to forget the dating time frames. The first three months is the perfect period. Every thing is hunky-dory during that time period.(therapists say, there is nothing wrong with 90-day relationships) Then there is the 3 to 6 month dating period, during which details, irregularities, surface. We show up late, stop opening the car door etc…again I have been told there is nothing wrong with a 6 month relationship……….we do this for a nothing lless that a year, collecting data and information about our partner.

  3. Lulu Avatar

    It’s also true that the people we date will inadvertantly tell us everything we need to know in the first few dates, but we don’t always pay attention. One way to avoid being hurt is to repeat the same old mistakes because they keep us in our comfort zone. One man I dated for several months still talked sadly about the wife who left him 15 years before. He still wasn’t ready to fall in love again. He simply had never really recovered. Another remarked early in our relationship that he only dated beautiful women, and he didn’t understand why none of his relationships lasted longer than 6 months. I should have paid more attention to what he was saying…after all, beauty isn’t a reason for a relationship (I was temporarily flattered, I suppose) and before the 6 months were up he was back online looking for his next conquest. It’s the bravest thing in the world to lower our castle drawbridge and let love in, but it’s also sensible to choose who we love carefully.

  4. Strblonde Avatar

    Then there’s the saying………… “Better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all.”

  5. hunter Avatar

    to strblonde,

    All right! I like the saying!

  6. Rod Avatar

    Being hurt is painful enough to make anyone cautious about moving back into a relationship again. I take great solace from an awesome quote from CS Lewis:
    “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket safe, dark, motionless, airless it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
    I think a problem often comes when we dont allow ourselves the time to grieve the loss of love. We too quickly jump in to cover the pain of loss with the good feeling of new love… and that robs the one we’re with from having a whole person present and able to fully engage in a new relationship.
    Who wants to hurt? No one. But its part of being ready to love fully.

  7. LA Avatar

    This is what I make up. If all of us really wanted to be in a relationship we would be. Being in this age group and still being single really points to our own neurosis about love and intimacy, letting go, and taking risks. Maybe we just don’t want this thing called love.

  8. Lulu Avatar

    Well, LA, I’d say that you’re partly right, we’re a bit ambivalent because we all carry old hurt and anxieties with us into new relationships. You don’t get to your forties and fifties without collecting a load of baggage. I’m aware that my own behaviour contributed to the failure of both relationships, and I’m moving very slowly now instead of rushing enthiusiastically in! And Rod, that was a lovely quote from C S Lewis. It takes a lot of courage to show vulnerability, and risk everything. We just have to be careful who we risk our hearts with. It’s not just that I’m afraid of being hurt, I’m very scared of hurting others.

  9. Rod Avatar

    I agree with that Lulu. I dont know what hurts more – the loss of love… or knowing that Ive truly hurt someone who loved me.

  10. hunter Avatar


    Isn’t C.S. Lewis saying, you don’t have to bare your soul when in a relationship?

  11. LA Avatar

    C.S. Lewis is saying that man was meant to love. God did not intend for man and woman to live apart. We create our own prisons because of our fear and insecurity. We are all the same. We all want the same thing. This is not about Lifetime channel romance. It is about love.

  12. Rod Avatar

    I think thats exactly what he’s saying LA. We do create our own prisons because of our fears and insecurities – while we think we are keeping ourselves ‘safe’ what we’re really doing is refusing to fully live. The heart wants to be in love and to love but I think its possible to miss out on the love of my life because I dont want to risk being burned.

  13. hunter Avatar

    to rod/LA

    Maybe, we do this,,,, but,,,,, with all the relationship seminars going around, internet info, books to read, blogs, therapists, we shouldn’t have to remain this way, should we?

  14. Lulu Avatar

    I’m not even sure I would recognise love if I found it, or if it found me. I think, to be honest, my relationships with men have been a curious mixture of infatuation, affection, companionship and sex, with some caring and supprt thrown in. The purest, best, most honest love which I recognised as love has been for my children and my little grandson, it’s instinctive, unconditional, powerful and natural. I would love to have that kind of connection with a partner, but if I’m honest it has never happened. I’ve romanticised my attachments, but I think women are conditioned to do that by their hormones and by society. Is romantic love a myth?

  15. hunter Avatar


    I don’t think men can compete with the love for your children and grandchildren…….