There are two types of people: those who fall in love easily, and those who fall in love slowly. I’m in the second group. But of course my own personal spin on it is that not only do I fall in love slowly, but I fall in love secretly. Aka I didn’t want him to know until I was absolutely sure he loved me at least as much. Such a teenager thing right? But I was a teenager, so what can you expect?
When it came to boys in high school, I was always the girl who kept them a good arm’s length out. I was more reserved yes, but mostly just super guarded when it came to my heart. My mom taught me that (s/o to you Mama, love you for it!), so by the time I was 7 months into a relationship and my boyfriend told me he loved me, my response was a sweet little smile and an “I know.” Believe me, he will make sure I never forget this fact. But it wasn’t because I didn’t love him. I did! So much. I was scared for him to know it. I was scared that I wasn’t protecting my heart if I let someone all the way in, so I waited. And maybe a month or two later, I finally responded to his “I love you” with an “I love you too.”
So for me, and maybe some other guarded heart girls out there, saying “I love you” was hard. Because it’s vulnerable, and because we’re allowing someone else to have the power to affect our emotions, which is a scary thing. They say love and hate is the same emotion, which didn’t help my fear of being hurt by loving someone, but here’s the thing… it’s worth it. I’ve been hurt throughout my relationship, but I’ve been loved 1,000 times over, and I wouldn’t have ever experienced that joy and bliss if I hadn’t let someone in. Maybe it’s cliche to say it, but it’s true. Love covers the hurt, and love is worth the hard days. It just is.
But it’s not easy. The mindset or the lifestyle of loving selflessly is a challenge. So 2 things that I’ve learned to focus on to keep my heart protected while still allowing someone in to love me:
– I control my reactions. When someone loves me, or when someone hurts me, I have the power to decide how to respond. This means I don’t have to live in a hurtful place, I can choose to be kind even when it’s hard, and that will encourage others to do the same.
– He can’t know what I don’t tell him. I have to communicate! When someone hurts me, or when I appreciate something he’s done for me, I have to tell him. He’s not a mind reader, unfortunately, lol.
Maybe you have different tools that help you? Or maybe you haven’t ever thought you needed them until now. But the truth is, we do have to guard our hearts. But it doesn’t mean we can’t love ad be loved in the process. So that saying “I love you’ doesn’t always have to be so hard.