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Falling in love was one of the most magical times in my life, but falling out of it was one of the worst. I’ve recovered from the heartbreak and come out stronger on the other side, but I’m still afraid of letting my guard down and letting another guy into my heart. Here’s why:

1. I DON’T WANT TO LOSE MYSELF.

It took so long to get myself back after my last relationship. I fell in love and I stopped focusing on myself. I made the man I was with my number one priority, and in the end, there was no one left to care about me. I was so caught up in being the girlfriend I thought he wanted me to be that I forgot how to be myself. I finally got that girl back and I don’t want to lose her all over again.

2. I DON’T BELIEVE ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR.

In fact, the game of love is total BS. Women shame each other and constantly compete for a man’s attention. Meanwhile, it feels like most men aren’t looking for love, just sex. Even the ones who want more than that often can’t be satisfied by just one woman. Between the lies, betrayal and all the drama, the entire dating game just seems too damn stressful.

3. I’M HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE RIGHT NOW.

Screw me for being happily single, am I right? The world might be pushing me to couple up but that doesn’t mean I’m not pushing back. I’m happy with how things are right now and that’s exactly what makes me so afraid of change. If I’m happy now, how do I know I’ll be happy in relationship? I’m not sure I want to take the chance that I won’t be.

4. I DON’T WANT TO GO THROUGH THE PAIN OF LOSING LOVE AGAIN.

Been there, done that, and it isn’t exactly one of my finest memories. If I take another chance at falling in love, I’m also taking the chance of losing that love. There’s no guarantee that things will work out and I’m not prepared for the possibility it doesn’t.

5. I TAKE SEX SERIOUSLY.

I get it — modern dating is all about hookup culture, but I’m not, so how am I even supposed to navigate the new dating scene? I feel like a fish out of water. I’m the minority here. I don’t want sex without love and most guys aren’t willing to wait, which means most modern guys aren’t worth it in my mind.

6. I’M WORRIED THAT ALL MEN ARE THE SAME EVEN THOUGH LOGICALLY, I KNOW THAT’S NOT TRUE.

People can keep telling me that not all men are jerks but I have a lot of personal experience to the contrary. In losing love, I lost faith in mankind. I want to believe that there are still good men left, and I know there must be somewhere out there, but at the end of the day, I mostly think that’s a fool’s errand trying to find one.

7. I ALMOST DIDN’T SURVIVE MY LAST ATTEMPT AT LOVE.

I don’t know if my heart could handle another letdown. It’s scarred enough already. The truth is just because I got through the pain of heartbreak once doesn’t mean I could do it again. I’d like to think I’m that strong, but I can’t help but feel like falling in and out of love has made me weak.

8. I DON’T WANT TO GROW TO HATE ANOTHER MAN I USED TO LOVE.

That hatred eats away at my insides. If I allow myself to think about my exes, it’s just a constant flow of good memories followed by the irrevocable pain of how things turned out. I used to love those men. We used to be happy, but everything good eventually turned sour. I can’t deal with that happening with another guy.

9. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TRUST ANYMORE.

My exes took that ability away from me. I thought I could trust them. I thought I could depend on someone other than myself but they proved me wrong. That’s when I vowed to be independent and to trust no one but myself because putting faith in others is just too risky to ever do again.

10. I DON’T LIKE BEING VULNERABLE.

I don’t want to let my guard down, because when you’re vulnerable that’s when you’re most likely to lose everything. When defenses are down, that’s when the opposition attacks. If I let a man into my heart, he can destroy me from the inside out — and that’s my greatest fear in vulnerability.

11. I’M NOT CONFIDENT THAT TRUE LOVE EXISTS.

I know that love can exist for fragments of time, but forever? I’m not so sure about that. Couples vow to love each other forever every day, but then those same couples turn around and file for divorce. So are humans just that bad at picking the right people, or is true love a made up fantasy that doesn’t really exist?

12. I’M NOT SURE THE REWARD IS WORTH THE RISK.

Best case scenario is that I find true love, but like I said, I don’t know if that really exists. So what’s the next best? Loving someone for a little while and then breaking up? Maybe settling for being content but never truly happy? If I don’t have a clear indication of the reward then I can’t confidently say that love is worth the risk, and that makes it all the more terrifying.

By Kelsey Dykstra for Bolde

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