How to Protect Your Heart

Unhappy couple.
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When it comes to dating and relationships, it's important to take risks. You have to put yourself out there, make yourself vulnerable, and take leaps of faith in order to find that special someone. And while getting hurt can be an inevitable consequence of taking chances, if you find that you keep getting burned and continue to experience heartbreak after heartbreak, there are five key steps that can help you protect your heart, and yourself, when you're looking to fall in love.

1. Take Things Slowly

One of the main reasons why people end up getting hurt on their quest for love is that they rush things. For example, if you're physically intimate with someone before you truly get to know him or her, this can often lead to heartache if these kinds of moments mean something more to you than they do to your partner. Taking things slowly also means spending real quality time with this person before you hit the major relationship milestones. While you may want to introduce this person to your friends and family, go on a trip together, and even make up names for the children you'd like to have one day, it's in your best interest to slow down and enjoy the present so that you can protect your heart if this person isn't in the same place you are yet.

2. Find Someone Who Shares Your Values

Another way to protect your heart in a relationship is to look for a partner who has goals and values in common with you.

For instance, you may end up getting hurt if you can't wait to have children but your partner doesn't see kids in his or her future. This is also true if you're looking for a serious and monogamous connection, but you find yourself dating people who never want to settle down, are only looking for flings, or desire open relationships.

If you want to prevent future heartbreak, do your best to select a partner who wants the same things that you do and shares your morals and values, as this can help keep your heart protected down the road.

3. Pay Close Attention to Red Flags

If you want to protect yourself and help avoid future heartbreak, it's important that you don't ignore or overlook any relationship red flags. If you're with someone who's physically or emotionally abusive, lies to you, or doesn't trust you, these are key signs that you should end this relationship immediately. But if you don't pay attention to these kinds of warning signs and don't trust your gut that something seems off about this person, you're leaving yourself vulnerable to heartbreak and more in the future.

4. Do Not Settle

An additional way to prevent yourself from getting hurt is to be in a relationship with someone for the right reasons. For example, if you're with someone because you're afraid of being alone and don't want to be single, this will only lead to heartache because you're not truly invested or interested in the person you're with, and you'll always be longing for and looking for someone else to meet your needs. In order to find a meaningful and long-lasting relationship, it's important that you're comfortable with yourself and believe that you truly deserve happiness.

That way, these moments of being single will empower you to find the one rather than devour you. 

5. Stop Focusing on the Superficial

Another way to protect your heart is stop prioritizing the superficial over what actually makes a relationship work. For instance, while someone may not be your typical type, you should focus on what truly matters, such as values, goals, and morals, rather than if he or she has a high-paying job, drives a nice car, or owns his or her condo. If you don't give people a chance because they don't fit into a certain mold, you may be missing out on a deep and meaningful connection because he or she is an inch shorter than the people you typically date. In order to protect your heart, you should place a priority on what truly matters so that you find a relationship that's fulfilling in every way.