Falling in love is exhilarating, but picking up the pieces after experiencing a broken heart can dissuade even the most hopeless of romantics from wanting to try again. No one wants to face loss and rejection in their dating relationships, particularly when they have already been hurt in the past. There are a few ways to protect your heart, however, once you decide to re-enter the dating world.
The first step to avoiding a broken heart is listening to what your potential mate is telling you, according to Rita Watson, MPH and associate fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College. If your new love interest is up front about not wanting the same things in life as you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking that will change. Give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of knowing what they want, and be honest with yourself about what you are looking for as well. Listen for clues that your lifestyles and desires may not match up and be willing to get out before you get too close if you notice serious differences.
Kathleen Hardaway, author of "I Kissed a Lot of Frogs: But the Prince Hasn’t Come," explains that one of the biggest components of a good relationship is respect. If you want to prevent a broken heart, you need to first have respect for yourself. Acknowledge that you are worthy and deserve to be treated well. Next, you and your potential partner need to show respect for each other. If that mutual respect doesn’t seem to exist, this is not a relationship you want to proceed any further with.
Work on finding happiness on your own before setting out to find someone else to provide it for you, suggests Karen Stewart, President and CEO of Fairway Divorce Solutions and author of the book “Clean Break.” If you are relying on another person to fill up the holes in your life, you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. Don’t expect anyone else to make you happy. Instead, spend time becoming a whole and complete version of yourself, focusing on your own hobbies and interests while still single. Invite potential suitors into your life, but don’t mold your life around those new love interests.
Listen to Your Gut
If something feels off about a new relationship, trust your gut and get out, Watson explains. Have faith in yourself to make those determinations, and don’t question the feelings you may be having. Making excuses or discounting behavior you know is unacceptable will only get you further invested in a relationship that is likely to hurt you more down the line.