Nervous woman holding a phone

Are you too cautious in relationships?

Recently, I fell down the stairs at my home and sprained my ankle. Since that fall, I find myself approaching the stairs very differently. Before the accident, I ran up and down that carpeted staircase many times each day without a second thought. Now, I’m very cautious and aware of every step.

Reflecting on my newfound cautiousness, I started thinking about the effects of a broken heart. The two situations are similar in some ways. Before experiencing the pain of a broken heart, we are willing to take risks. We hope and dream freely. We aren’t afraid to let ourselves fall in love.

But just like my trip down the stairs, a heartbreak can strip away that freedom. With each and every heartbreak during my single journey, I found myself less willing to risk or dream. I became cautious with relationships. With each rejection I experienced, the protective shell around my heart grew thicker.

Guarding our hearts

In the Bible, we are instructed to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) reads, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” At times, I used this verse as an excuse for avoiding relationships. “Oh, I’m just protecting my heart.” In reality, it was less about guarding my heart and more about my lack of trust. Keeping my heart closed off was a sure way to prevent any future pain.

We shouldn’t carelessly give our hearts away, but we also shouldn’t close them off completely because of past wounds. God desires to heal our broken places, restore our hearts, and teach us to trust in Him.

Proceed with (a little less) caution

It’s important to approach new relationships with wisdom and proceed with caution as we get to know someone. But how do you know if you’re being overly cautious in relationships?

Here are some signs that your broken heart might be leading the way:

  • “I would like to ask her out on a date, but I know she’ll say no. My heart can’t take the rejection.”
  • “He seems like someone I would enjoy getting to know, but I’ll just keep it casual. I can’t handle another broken heart.”
  • “I don’t have the energy to start all over again with someone new.”
  • “He’s not the kind of guy I would marry, but he definitely won’t break my heart. I’ll play it safe.”
  • “If I tell her the truth and share these emotions, she’ll run away for sure.”
  • “I’m terrible at relationships. I think I’m meant to be alone in life.”

If any of these comments sound familiar, you may be proceeding with too much caution in relationships.

A challenge

I challenge you to consider the state of your heart from a spiritual and emotional perspective.

Have you allowed fear to replace faith in your relationships?

Has a broken heart limited your capacity to show love?

I encourage you to ask God for healing of your heart and a restoration of hope. Ask Him for wisdom to know when to be cautious and when to take risks.

As you evaluate your heart health, I pray God will grant you the freedom to dream as if your dreams have never been shattered, hope as if you’ve never felt hopeless, and love boldly as if your heart has never been broken.

This article was originally published on Single Matters on 20 Jan 2015.

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