Resolution: Protect your heart because no one else will

During my trip abroad, I’ve invited several relationship coaches/bloggers/authors to fill in. So you’ll have a different weekly voice to read. The first one is from my friend Rachel Sarah, author of Single Mom Seeking. Her book is full of not only practical tips, but candid reports from the dating front as a single mom.

Single Mom SeekingThis year was quite the doozy for me. As my first book Single Mom Seeking went to press in 2007, I was going ga-ga over a man.

After five+ years as a single mom — and a very long string of bad dates — I thought I’d found my Mr. Right. Maybe I’d been looking so hard for my him ˜ my fairytale prince — that I’d fooled myself. I wanted that happy ending. I wanted it so badly.

Boy, did my plot take a knotty twist.

I hadn’t opened myself up like that to a man for years — not since meeting my daughter’s father in 1998. I simply let go. But something was missing. It didn’t take us long to figure that out. Intimacy terrified him — and the more I tried to get closer, the further away he went.

We split up just as 2007 began, and I’ve gone back inside myself. It’s not always easy to look deep inside yourself and think about how you want to live differently.

So, how do you protect your heart?

No, I’m not talking about lowering your cholesterol.

Let’s say that you meet someone you really like. I mean really like, as in the conversation just flows and your skin gets flushed just thinking about him. Do you jump into the sack with him?

Sure, go ahead. I’m not one to get all moralistic on you. But in my experience, intimacy does a number on my heart, meaning that it opens me up wide. When I sleep with a man soon after meeting, the smart girl in me often falls asleep.

So, what can you do? What are some creative ways you can connect without opening yourself up too quickly?

  • Let’s say that first date is rocking, and when it’s time to go your separate ways, you say “yes,” to the long kiss, but decide not to invite him upstairs. Not yet.
  • How about writing a real, old-fashioned love note and leaving it on his dashboard — instead of sending a text message?
  • How about taking a yoga class together — instead of sharing a bottle of wine, and getting tipsy?
  • How about having your best friend meet him… before you sleep with him?

How do you plan to protect your heart in 2008?

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15 responses to “Resolution: Protect your heart because no one else will”

  1. Ellen Avatar

    I have a new technique. Since falling for a guy makes me stupid and blind, I go out with new guys like a journalist with the idea that it’s my job to learn as much as possible about him. Journalists can’t get emotionally involved, you know. Then, when I know enough to know he’s a keeper, I let my heart get involved. Sounds dry but it’s a good way to stay smart, pay attention to red flags, and not make the same mistakes again!

    xo Ellen

  2. Toni Avatar

    I think you need to keep in mind the difference between infatuation and real long-lasting love. You can enjoy the infatuation feelings without acting on them right away….know that spending more time with a man will let you see whether you really like (eventually love) the person he really is, or whether you are smitten with his initial charm/personna. It ain’t easy – but it is worth it.

  3. Rachel Avatar

    Thanks for this Ellen! I had to laugh because I’ve been told, more than once, to please lay off from drilling my date as if I’m writing a front page story about him.

    When I get into my reporter-mode on the phone or a first date — which I often do, because, well, I’m a journalist — I suppose I can sound interrogative.

    I’m gonna check out your site now!

  4. Toni Avatar

    It helps to know and remember the difference between infatuation, and something more like long-lasting love. The latter takes time to grow and develop; the former easily fades as soon as you really get to know the guy. A psychologist friend of mine has a saying for this “I will always treasure the misconceptions I had of you before I really got to know you.”

  5. nysharon Avatar

    Hi Rachel enjoyed your post–welcome. Same problem for me only I am a probation officer. I have been accused of doing a social workup and a background check on them. As I have become more evolved, I found that just listening and observing, as I do in my work, reveals much more sometimes. It does take longer though. BTW, my New Years rule of thumb is that they don’t come past the door on first two dates no mater what I feel. And that I don’t sleep with them until I am sure that they will call the next day and we have a standing date on the weekends.

  6. Rachel Avatar

    Toni, I love what your psychologist friend said. How poignant.

    NYSharon, ah ha! That’s what I’ve figured out, too: there is much to be said for simply listening and observing. It’s amazing how silence can really get people to open up. Thanks.

  7. Another Ellen Avatar
    Another Ellen

    The best way for me to protect my heart is to get out there — do stuff, go to stuff, meet people (e.g. guys) in a variety of contexts — so that I’m less inclined to feel any one guy is the *only* one. I’m also trying to be a little hardier — falling for someone who hasn’t fallen for me isn’t going to kill me, especially if I’m honest with myself as soon as possible about his response (or lack thereof).

  8. Rodney Avatar

    Hmm… ok, call me old fashioned, but I cant believe you ladies would ‘give it up’ after only two dates… No wonder intimacy does a number on your heart if youre willing to allow yourself to be taken that far that fast… I think any guy is capable of faking anything for two dates just to get into bed… the only way youre going to know he’s a true gentleman (assuming thats what your looking for) is to wait, give him time and let his true character come out… if he cant wait longer than two dates he’s not much of a real man.

    In the old days we waited til marriage – that seems ‘out of fashion’ these days but I think the counterswing is part of the mass confusion surrounding trying to figure out ‘the one’ because we get sexually involved so fast our brains dont even have time to engage and think clearly.

  9. nysharon Avatar

    I think you are right, Rodney, about not getting sexually involved too fast. I sense that is the theme here. No one gets “past the door” (meant literally) after date two with me. I think the consensus is that we have human needs, that include intimacy and nesting, so sometimes we want to connect sooner. Hence, it puts you in the justifying zone. BTW: I don’t see myself getting married again, so waiting is not my option. I would like to share my bed with someone someday, but not my retirement. 🙂 Just a side note: ever notice this topic always triggers tons of comments? And a man’s thoughts are always welcome.

  10. lisa Avatar

    Everything everyone says makes sence…but surely however good or bad your romantic history has been and no matter how you try the simple fact remains that your head can’t rule your heart.
    My history had me with a guy that I knew just wasn’t in the same emotional place as me although he had deep feelings, of a sort, for me they weren’t as deep as mine…borne out by the fact that a year later we parted due to his need to see other people.
    Months on I find myself, again, falling for a guy that has not long split from his wife and who could possibly be with me as a ‘rebound’ thing. (Please don’t get the impression that I fall for every guy I date ) But I still can’t help myself even knowing that I may possibly be hurt again. People around me and me own head tell me to back off and keep it ‘light’ but then that old thudding heart takes over when he suggests spending yet more time with each other.
    So how do you tame a heart??

  11. Mitsy Avatar

    It’s hard to tame the heart if what you want is a relationship. Sometimes we don’t want to wait for things to happen on their own. I’m still seeing my current boyfriend of almost 10 months. It was a rocky road for a while as he had his own issues to work out and I will always have abandonment issues.

    I stuck with my guy throughout some tough times (depression issues, job changes, etc.). We talk often about what we’ve been through together. Some of his previous girlfriends (and even ex-wife) cheated on him. He tells me over and over again how lucky he is to have me in his life and that trust, fidelity, respect, and friendship have anchored our relationship into a love relationship. Another thing that I believe made this man fall for me is the fact that I didn’t sleep with him too soon. It could have happened much sooner than it did. However, he told me months later that because I had some morals, that that made him respect me more and want me in his life even more.

    I regretted sleeping with a guy too soon once before, but the idea of one-night stands does turn off a lot of guys who seek a long-term relationship or even a possible marriage partner. This subject has been talked about a lot on this site, and I have never been a supporter of casual sex. Sometimes those things come back to haunt you, if even in your own conscience only. Better to wait a bit longer, especially if you’re like a lot of women and get too attached after it happens. I know that would be the case for me. Who needs to sign up for more heartache if you don’t have to?

  12. Maria Avatar

    I just don’t get why the women have to be the pace setters in regards to the intimacy thing. I too got burned by a man who I probably got in to bed with too soon (after 3rd date). But the chemistry was so good, and I’m in my early 40’s. At what point am I allowed to say this feels good and I want more, and not have to pay the penalty of the relationship falling apart & broken heart. Caus that man broke my heart. Looking back, even his friend told me to hold out, but truly, I didn’t want to. I’m a sexual being too. I realize guys like the chase…but sheesh, don’t they realize we like intimacy too? It’s the same old story from when I was 16, they push, we finally give in, they leave. How disappointing that almost 27 years later in my life I find the game is still played the same way.

  13. Mitsy Avatar

    You’re right…the game still is very much the same as when we were in our teens, however, the difference should be that we have learned something by the time we hit our 40’s. We learn that if we give in too soon, that the odds of having a long-term relationship with that same guy is not likely. Sure, many of us like sex, but at what price are we willing to pay for it? With a broken heart down the road later? Maybe I’m being cynical here, but I’m just not willing to give in to my own desires too soon or at least until I have an idea of what the guy wants down the road. In my own situation, there were some deep wounds from previous failed relationships for both myself and for my guy. Because we both know what heartache is when someone betrays us, we are even more determined to not let the other person down now. Fidelity, trust and respect are at the heart of our relationship and while the path is not always smooth, we know where we stand with each other. I wish I had some of that wisdom a few years ago because I put up with a lot of B.S. because I thought I had to in order to have someone in my life. I expect more now because I refuse to be anyone’s doormat.

    But women who use sex in order to secure a relationship are playing roulette with their heartstrings. I will continue to believe that and hope that more women will make smarter choices this year with their love lives and for the lives of the people who love and care about them.

  14. nysharon Avatar

    I don’t think women “use sex in order to secure a relationship”. That is perpetuating a myth that has long been toughted by jaded men. I know no woman who does this. Men do that with us since once it is done we have given something over. Women just want intimacy and to genuinly believe that the man wants her.

  15. Simone Avatar

    Since being divorced for the last six years, I have dated four different men, for one month on towards 3 years. My problem is that I open myself up emotionally way too soon. I need to learn not to do that. My last breakup was with a guy I met online. We knew each for three months before we actually met in person and dated. We had four dates, one of those a “sleepover”. I thought I knew him pretty well. Wrong!! Turns out he is a committment phobe, and it seems the closer we got, the more distant he became….right up to the point of not calling me anymore, texting me anymore, etc. When I finally confronted him, it was as if he was a different person. The nice, kind, funny man I fell for, and gave my heart (and body) too, turned out to be a real jerk!! I felt (and still feel) so ashamed that I allowed him to touch me so deeply, while he was actually pulling himself away. Arghhhh! I think I may require therapy after this one; mainly because I fell in love, and then got kicked to the curb. Ouch! NOTE TO SELF: Don’t do that again!! But how??