As with any relationship, in telling Ashley that I liked her and wanted to pursue a relationship with her (read about that here), I was opening myself up to the possibility of being hurt.
My first serious girlfriend was in 8th grade. She was the first girl that I told, “I love you.” She was the first girl that I held hands with. Over the Summer between my 8th and 9th grade year, she broke up with me, and when I came back in 9th grade, she was dating someone. Seeing her with someone else crushed me.
Since then, and before my relationship with Ashley, I had some other girlfriends, but I kept things light. Call me old fashioned, but I had the perspective that the purpose of dating was to determine if you wanted to marry someone, if that was not the intent, what was the point? I had no problem being flirty with girls, I mean who doesn’t like the attention? But I was not going to be emotionally vulnerable with another girl unless I thought marriage in the end was a possibility.
I was scared. I had been hurt, I did not want to get hurt again. I had put myself out there in a relationship in the past and been rejected. However, in relationships, without risk, there is no reward. The amount that you put into a relationship is one of the factors to determines what your ultimate experience in that relationship is. Sometimes that means getting hurt. C.S. Lewis puts it this way:
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable….The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
I was so scared of being hurt that I did not hold Ashley’s hand for 8 months into our relationship. I didn’t tell her “I love you” until almost a year into dating her. Ashley and I talk a lot about how much certain events in our lives affected us and how we developed as people because of those experiences, good and bad. I am still learning to be emotionally vulnerable with my wife. But as I become more emotionally vulnerable with her, I experience a fuller version of love in our relationship. It is scary, and it means that when we hurt each other, the hurt is deep, but so is the healing.
In relationships, there is no safe investment.