When it comes to love, it can be downright scary to strip away your protective layers and bare your soul to another person. This is why Vanessa Tai is especially cautious about who she entrusts her heart with.
In one of my earliest Love In Lines posts, I wrote about how I used to avoid emotional entanglement as much as possible because of a perennial fear of getting hurt. Vulnerability is terrifying because there always seems to be a lingering possibility of rejection. Nothing scares me more than being honest about my feelings and having a door slammed in my face. However, in recent months, I’ve been slowly inching my way around the fortifications that surround my heart and exploring this “falling in love” thing.
Yes, it is safe behind these walls, but it is also boring and lonely. As painful as failed relationships can be, the high of being with someone you like is almost magical. And right now, I think I’m going to continue chasing this high.
Of course, I’m not about to throw myself straight into the fray and hand my heart to the first available person. There needs to be a certain level of mutual trust first. In other words, we need to be discerning about who we open up to. While we may never know with 100 percent certainty that the person we love will be careful with our hearts, here are a couple of ways to gauge:
Is he really listening?
When you try to talk to him, does he make a concerted effort to listen to what you’re saying? Or does he keep trying to tell you what he thinks? Or worse, does he invalidate your feelings and make you feel ashamed?
As much as your judgment may be cloudy from lust/infatuation (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), try to take an objective look at your relationship and listen to your gut. The crucial question we should always ask ourselves is, “Do I feel safe opening up to him?”
Is he authentic with you?
In order for a relationship to work, both parties need to be willing to let their guard down and share themselves openly with the other. We need to give each other a safe space where we can open up about our feelings without the fear of being judged or dismissed.
And no, it doesn’t count if he opens up to you only when he’s intoxicated. I was once in a situation like this, and was driving myself crazy with confusion and misery. Then, fellow co-founder Denise said something to me that made everything so much clearer. She said, “If the guy was really in touch with himself, he wouldn’t be that far off from his drunk self. If he is unwilling to open up to you when he’s sober, that’s a problem and you don’t want to be involved in that.”
At the end of the day, it’s important we remember that vulnerability is not about being weak. In fact, it’s a generous act of courage. The knowledge that someone intimately knows the messiness of your mind and sees you at your ugliest yet still loves you wholeheartedly … I reckon that is an incredible experience that we all deserve to have in this life.
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30.
[If You Like This Post, You Might Also Like]