dating + love

Guarding My Heart

May 13, 2011

This is your heart… This is your heart on boys.

Heartbreak. I’ve been here before. It feels very familiar. And no, I’m not talking about the Celtics losing to the Heat in Game 5. Ok, well maybe I am sorta kinda….

Heartbreak is the emotionally crushed remnants of a dissolved romantic relationship–be it a mutual break up or not. Even when a relationship comes to an amicable end, it still seems that at least one party is left feeling a bit empty. Not empty from being alone, but empty from the energy used to pour into a relationship. Because ALL relationships take work to be sustained, especially those that have are on their last leg. For me, I start to feel emotionally and psychologically drained when a relationship is ending, and I tend to overthink all of the consequences that come with it. Even with all the mulling over, I find myself with more questions than answers.

But unfortunately for me, I tend to find myself in a place of “heartbreak” early and often. [Sidenote: Ok, maybe not often. It’s only happened like 3 times, but that’s a lot!] I fall too quickly, get caught up in the idea of “love and happiness” and then it’s back to the drawing board. I land in a place of misery, constantly thinking about all the things I should have and could have done to make things work. I question myself incessantly. How did I end up here? Why can’t I stop feeling sorry for myself? Why can’t I just let go and move on?

The answer is this: I didn’t guard my heart.

I first became acquainted with the idea of “guarding your heart” about a year ago by a good, happily married friend of mine whom I turn to for spiritual advice and mentoring. When I got into my most recent relationship, she and I talked again about some relationships as they relate to Christian dating. One thing she reiterated throughout our conversation was to guard my heart and to remember that during the beginnings of a new relationship, the guy I was dating should be my brother in Christ first–since it was important build a true friendship with each other before taking things any further. And remember, guard your heart, he’s not your husband yet. At the time, I thought I knew what she meant.  Don’t let yourself get hurt. He’s just a guy you’re dating and getting to know. Got it. So I went on about my relationship and didn’t give my friend’s words much thought.

Well, here I am, months later and  I finally figured out what the heck she was talking about! When you’re so quick to pour yourself into your relationship, giving it everything you have, you’re opening yourself up for disappointment and hurt. When you like some one soooo much and are head over heels in love, you lose yourself in your union and don’t allow yourself to really think with a level head. When you are so wrapped up in being in a relationship, you don’t take the time to sincerely get to know the other person. When you invest all of yourself in your relationship early on, you forget to invest in yourself and what’s important for you. I’ve been through all of this. I carelessly let me heart lead my head. How can I guard my heart when my heart has me on a leash?

Not that I think you can save yourself from the hurt and pain that can come with relationships, but I do think there is a smarter way to deal in relationships. I think the things that get me caught up are having the wrong priorities in my relationships. I don’t focus on the right things at the right times. I want to give me heart away without requiring the person receiving it to do the work to obtain it. I want everything but the kitchen sink up front, without having to go through the necessary steps in between. I want God to bless my relationship without having to put God in the relationship.

I’m not sure I’m making any sense, but this has been weighing heavily on me all week. I think I finally get why I take relationship breaks so hard, even if said relationships are short-lived. I don’t guard my heart–meaning I give too much of myself too soon–and so I quickly and easily get emotionally destroyed by relationships that don’t work out. Relationships are a process that shouldn’t be rushed through, but rather enjoyed and made the most of.

Can anyone else feel me on this? Is it necessary to guard your heart when entering new relationships? Is there a smart way to date that won’t leave you feeling broken when its over?

Learning to guard my heart,
Gemmie

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36 Comments

  • Reply *OnlyYolie* May 13, 2011 at 3:48 am

    i don’t know gemmie… i always want to go back to how love felt when i first experienced it, before hearts were guarded when everything was about each other and making us happy. when it felt that it was us against the world and because our love was so deep nothing could stop us, when there wasn’t any doubt about how we felt because we just said it… so when it comes to relationships i tend to go 100%, balls to the wall and sh*t, thinking that a guard on my heart will somehow stop the love from being as pure and strong as it can be…

    but you know what don’t listen to me, twice married and an additional 3x engaged. matter of fact i’ll just see what other people say about this.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 13, 2011 at 10:47 am

      thanks for your feedback, yoles.

      i, too, tend to go 100&, balls to the wall. but i dont think guarding my heart (being more cautious and slower to go all in) would prevent the love from being any purer or better. no, i dont think i should build a wall around my heart, and not let anyone near it. but i do think, based on all of my previous experience, that i give too much too soon. and it damn near drives me crazy when its over because i think about all of me that went in, and what could have been done different.

      idk. *shrug*

  • Reply The Heavy Weight Lover May 13, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Great post! I feel you. You can go as far as saying this kind of thing happens in the “courting” phase. I don’t think there is a way to not be hurt when breaking up unless you aren’t fully involved in the relationship.

    In relationships you have to guard your heart with a fence not a wall. With a fence your able to see through the bars that there is either a heart or not and if there is the fence will be brought down over time but with a wall you don’t know what’s on the other side and its a 50/50 chance that you wont find anything.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

      In relationships you have to guard your heart with a fence not a wall.

      i completely agree. i dont think guarding one’s heart means to not let anyone in or prevent the feeling of love. i think its about realizing that people come and go when you’re dating. and we shouldnt feel torn apart when things dont always work out how we want them to. can we prevent hurt? no. but i think we can have some control over how we experience and process that hurt.

  • Reply Squeak May 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

    “Not empty from being alone, but empty from the energy used to pour into a relationship. Because ALL relationships take work to be sustained, especially those that have are on their last leg. For me, I start to feel emotionally and psychologically drained when a relationship is ending, and I tend to overthink all of the consequences that come with it.”

    This right here stuck out to me. Whenever I hear people talk about relationships being work, i always think about what work is, and to me thats everything a relationship shouldn’t be. What you described above sounds like what happens when I work a job I hate. It becomes emotionally and pschologically draining and I start to think of the consequences of quitting or letting nature take its course.

    That being said I admire your transparency. Guarding your heart is important because, along the lines of christian thinking, theres a verse in Jeremiah that says “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” And another in proverbs that says “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” This tells me that my heart can get me into so much trouble that it can’t be trusted. I dont think it’s about keeping yourself from feeling, I think it’s more about being able to rationally assess a person, and their motives. A relationship is about building. Building trust, building intimacy, building character, and doing it together. It’s one thing to be committed and dedicated, it’s another to completely lose yourself though.

    Good post.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

      thanks for your feedback, squeak.

      i dont think relationships being “work” has to be a had thing. by work, i most certainly mean EFFORT. and both people have to put forth effort for a relationship to work.

      when i said i felt emotionally drained when the relationship was ending, i meant because i was trying to keep something together that clearly wasn’t meant to be. and i also felt like i was the only one putting forth any effort. and i think that’d leave anyone tired.

      having witnessed many successful relationships/marriages, i know that a good, healthy relationship takes BOTH ppl putting forth effort, both expressing love to keep things together and happy.

      I dont think it’s about keeping yourself from feeling, I think it’s more about being able to rationally assess a person, and their motives. A relationship is about building.

      i completely agree with you hear. and i think this is what i was trying to get at. we have to submit to the courting process–which is one of building and learning. if we get so caught up in just being in the relationship, i think this is where we get lost and set up for disappointment.

  • Reply Euphoric Ears May 13, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I think it’s necessary to guard your heart in all new relationships, romantic or not…but I am not master as to how this works. *sighs* I mean, is there really a fool proof way to guard your heart though? How can you effectively guard your heart w/o holding back too much? I think that can be just as harmful as jumping into something head first. I’m in the process of training myself not to give too much, too soon…to just go with the flow. I’m not going to lie, with that comes a certain ambivalance and “I don’t give a f*ckness” that’s my defense mechanism.

    Awww hell, Gem…I don’t know! LOL

    • Reply gemmieboo May 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      girl idk either!!! lol dating is complicated, man. and i think it goes back to this idea of “balance” kind of like you mentioned in a previous post. how do you balance giving without giving too much?? how do you stay guarded without completely shutting ppl out? its not easy. and i dont have all the answers.

  • Reply Slim Jackson May 13, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I feel you on this. Fortunately for me, I haven’t been through too many heartbreaks, but 1 is more than enough. I don’t play tit-for-tat (I really mean that in a clean way) in relationships, but I don’t go balls to the walls with the feelings, etc. from the jump. People don’t start with 100% trust with me. They earn it. And once they breach it, it’s gonna be very difficult if not impossible for them to completely get it back. I’m definitely much more cautious than I used to be, but I don’t think it’s to the point of missing out on great opportunities with people. It’s just a much longer interview process.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      I don’t play tit-for-tat (I really mean that in a clean way) in relationships, but I don’t go balls to the walls with the feelings, etc. from the jump.

      i kind of expect this from you–it seems most men dont. and maybe thats the problem?? men kind of go about things more reserved than women (well ME, anyway). dudes dont seem to suffer from as much grief because they were never all in like we were.

      I’m definitely much more cautious than I used to be, but I don’t think it’s to the point of missing out on great opportunities with people. It’s just a much longer interview process.

      i do think there is something to be said for striking a good balance. i apparently haven’t mastered that yet *sigh*

  • Reply That Damn African May 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Great post. I’ve gone through this a few times. Gave too much of myself too early. Relationship ended and I was left trying to put myself back together. Then I started giving too little of myself and deaded potential relationships before they began. I’ve had to do a trial-and-error sort of routine to figure out how to guard myself appropriately. Still don’t know if I have it down, but I’m more capable than I was before.

    “Not that I think you can save yourself from the hurt and pain that can come with relationships, but I do think there is a smarter way to deal in relationships.”

    Definitely agree. Relationships are just as cerebral as they are emotional.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

      I’ve had to do a trial-and-error sort of routine to figure out how to guard myself appropriately.

      i dont think ive ever NOT given relationships 100% right out the gate. im very trusting and (likely) very excited about new love. so i want to go all in, no inhibitions. and then i feel slapped silly when things arent as warm and cozy as i thought they’d be.

      Relationships are just as cerebral as they are emotional.

      indeed. sadly, i wait until its too late to get cerebral about ish.

  • Reply MsEvaHoney May 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Someone upthread mentioned guard your heart with a fence and not a wall. That is a great sentiment. I have had my heart completely smashed 3 times and while I dont think it has made me bitter, it has left me a little broken and guarded. I am one who goes “balls to the wall” in relationships and most time that is to my detriment(sp?). I say the guard your heart with the fence. Fences are a lot easier to tear down than a wall, but allow yourself the joy of love.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      I say the guard your heart with the fence. Fences are a lot easier to tear down than a wall, but allow yourself the joy of love.

      i agree. ive never had a wall around my heart. but maybe its time to erect a fence and keep my heart a bit more protected.

  • Reply NoH8Diva May 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    That what the TRUTH Gemmie! Although, I’ve never heard the concept “guard your heart”…i love the idea. I think its so important when dating, flirting, and well u know…I think you tend to be all in whether it be in a romantic relationship or a friendship. I think its one of your best qualities. I really do not think its necessarily a bad thing to want it all in the beginning. I am typically 100% dedicated to relationships too when they first start. I mean it’s the pursuit of happiness. That pursuit can make truths cloudy. Its hard though when you think the person is so wonderful and you can see yourself with them in the future. That “I see myself with them forever” idea can tend to make us overlook things that are and are not there too. I say guard your heart, listen to your heart, and respect what your heart is saying. When we are feeling uneasy or things just don’t seem right, in most cases they are not. Dating is laying the ground work for the relationship of your dreams. A learning process somewhat. Learning what we like, what we don’t like, honoring our values, not compromising our values b./c the “fall” was so intense. Even when you’re in a long-term relationship/married guarding your heart is still relevant. Another tid bit for all of us men and women, never write off someone that it didn’t work out with in the beginning. Sometimes were simply they are not ready for the relationship, not ready to be emotionally involved, not ready to put forth the time and effort. Life changes, situations change, maturity comes. Plenty of successful marriages started in the area of your Friday reflection.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      you are soooo wise, bestie!!! thank you for all your feedback!!! i really do appreciate your advice. i admire and adore your relationship and hope to have something as strong and loving as you all have one day 🙂

      i think you are right about everything. and since you know me so well, you know how i can be when it comes to these things. and it really is a process, and im still learning about myself and how to deal with others.

      Sometimes were simply they are not ready for the relationship, not ready to be emotionally involved, not ready to put forth the time and effort. Life changes, situations change, maturity comes.

      this is true!!! its just sometimes hard to accept.

  • Reply Muze May 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    aww.

    i think believing in Love and putting your heart out there within reason is how people stay unjaded. the more you guard your heart, the more apt you are to let good things that could be great things pass you by. i’m not saying go jump heart first into anything, but i think it’s sweet that you aren’t all guarded like me.

    i believe it’s all in the pacing of things. taking your time doesn’t necessarily mean being on guard. it just means developing things slowly so that by the time you are madly deeply, you’ve gotten to know that person on a truly deep level, and are not still in the blissful superficial stage. there’s a quote though that says “sometimes we put up walls not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

    i like to think that’s true.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      thanks for the feedback, muze.

      it just means developing things slowly so that by the time you are madly deeply, you’ve gotten to know that person on a truly deep level, and are not still in the blissful superficial stage.

      but i think thats exactly what guarding ones heart is. its not to say you arent letting love in, but allowing yourself to go through the process of building a relationship led more by your reason than emotion.

      but i dont know exactly. i guess im still trying to figure that out 🙂

  • Reply miss t-lee May 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    She (your friend) wasn’t lying though. You definitely gotta “guard your heart”. Dating out here, is not for the faint, at all. Take some time to heal, and get back out there when you’re ready. Not a moment before though! This is a learning experience, as all relationships are. Just a stepping stone, so now that you know what to do, make sure to apply it next time.
    Hang in goon. #RGS

    • Reply gemmieboo May 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      i hear what you’re saying, mayne. and thanks for the feedback!! i appreciate the support. its definitely a learning experience and im trying not to take any of it for granted. this can only make me better.

      #RGS

  • Reply keisha brown May 15, 2011 at 1:02 am

    sigh. this post.
    the problem is trying to apply logic to the worlds most illogical thing ever: love.

    i like to think of myself as a smart, commonsensical chick..who flies southwest (aka checks baggage for free), learns lessons from past experiences, reads blogs written by very smart single black wisdom filled men (lol)…and all it takes is one person to infiltrate you and you lose a little bit of who you thought you were (#nodennygreen).

    i dont ever want to be/labelled as the angry, bitter, jaded black chick..so i don’t change me. i adapt to each person and situation differently. some get parts of me, others get none. my level of vulnerability increases with my level in trust. am i sometimes rewarded with heartbreak and head-scratching? sure. but i cannot see my life without love. in all its horrible and wonderful forms.

    i would hate for someone to make me pay for the sins of others, so make sure not to do it to others. if new dude wasn’t there for the building of the berlin wall, why is it his job to tear it down? that’s on ME.

    hope this made sense…

    • Reply gemmieboo May 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      i dont ever want to be/labelled as the angry, bitter, jaded black chick..so i don’t change me. i adapt to each person and situation differently.

      indeed. i dont ever want to become crippled by a broken heart to the point where i cant let it heal and be ready for another love. and though i dont have a problem adapting to each person i encounter, i tend to adapt to those who arent always willing to do the same. so then i become alone in my quest to making a relationship work. and how can you have a one-sided relationship?? you cant.

      but nonetheless, i share your sentiments in wanting to be open to a new relationship and not bring baggage of heartbreak into another. every new relationship is a chance to try and get things right.

  • Reply E May 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Thank you sooo much for this post!!! I finally feel I’m not alone in this…this is exactly how I feel and have a problem with. I have been told to “guard my heart” but it is much easier said than done…it takes practice.

    Thx Gemmie!!

    • Reply gemmieboo May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      I have been told to “guard my heart” but it is much easier said than done…it takes practice.

      absolutely. but as many ppl have mentioned in the comments–there has to be a willingness to give and receive love. if your guard is too strong, you may be blocking love blessings.

      best wishes on working things out!!

  • Reply I Believe in Movie Romances « That's What GEM Said May 18, 2011 at 12:33 am

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  • Reply MsEsquire77 May 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    What an awesome and honest post! Love is splendid but risky and it can be hard to find a balance between openness and caution. I’ve failed miserably a number of times but you live, you learn. My best advice is to proceed with cautious optimism. Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      thanks, Shon!!!

      My best advice is to proceed with cautious optimism.

      i think this is exactly how i understand “guarding your heart” to mean, at least as it was explained to me. and since im a hopeless optimist when it comes to love and relationships, i just gotta hone the “cautious” part.

  • Reply Friday Forgiveness: Last Call Before Rapture? « That's What GEM Said May 20, 2011 at 1:00 am

    […] men who mistook my kindness for weakness and betrayed my trust. The men who were entrusted with my heart but were careless and selfish and allowed it to become neglected and bruised. Though you gave me […]

  • Reply dawn cox May 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I am glad that I found this site. i have been burned a few times resently and I didn’t see it coming. i am so dissapointed in men. it seems they know what they want . They make you believe in them and then they dump you over night. i am to the point that I dont even want to give a man the time of day . Yet again I am seeing someone but feel like I dont care if I even hear from him from one day to the next. I am afraid of being hurt again . I want to get closer to him but I will not and don’t know when I ever will again. I conclude that what is the point anyway , they are all going to hurt me. That is what I am believing these days. Anyone have any good advice for me.

    • Reply gemmieboo May 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      dawn–thank you so much for reading and for sharing!

      though i do encourage you to guard your heart (be cautious of how quickly you let a man get to you, take the time to get to know him before giving yourself away), i would also encourage you not to let bad experiences make you bitter and untrusting. yes, many times in love we will be hurt because we wont get what we want or things wont happen as we had hoped. and sometimes we’ll just be downright played and disrespected. but not all men are the same!!! and not all men have intentions to hurt us. because if we allow ourselves to become hardened and bitter by negative relationship experiences, we wont be able to let some one truly deserving of our love and affection in. and if you want love, you have to be willing to let it in!

      if you want to take about this some more, feel free to email me. i wish you well!

  • Reply The Masquerade « That's What GEM Said May 25, 2011 at 3:59 am

    […] I’ve been dealing with family tragedies, heartbreak, failed/halted experiments, pressure to publish, and anxiety to graduate. If it ain’t one […]

  • Reply Ashley December 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    i’m new to your blog, but i love this post! i, too, hope to get better at guarding my heart a little better in the beginning of relationships. i can think of a few instances when doing so probably would have allowed me to see some bad situations more clearly and helped me avoid the inevitable downfall and heartache that followed.

    you seem like a such a wise and positive person – thanks for sharing your perspective!

  • Reply The Wake Up Call « That's What GEM Said September 14, 2012 at 10:02 am

    […] morning I am reassured that my heart is safely guarded and I have emotionally rooted myself in a firm foundation. There is both vulnerability and […]

  • Reply Key October 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    hey i just came across this I actually wrote a response to this before reading it because I am going through the same thing or have been going through the same thing for a while now. Maybe you can read it and gain another perspective http://keykeykey123.blogspot.com/2012/10/love-recklessly.html

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