When I first read Greg Behrendt’s book “He’s Just Not That Into You,” one of the statements he made that stuck out for me (and with me) was his claim that “you are not the exception.” The logic is that men generally behave in a predictable way, and as much as we women like to make excuses, we should save ourselves the heartache and assume that if a man isn’t behaving in certain ways, that he just isn’t into us. I think Behrendt is really onto something here, and if you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.
BUT I also think that this “I am not the exception” kind of thinking has some drawbacks. Women (OK, maybe just me) have used this logic as an impenetrable defense against letting someone in who just might be into us. I wonder how many women have hidden their hearts behind the idea that it is better to be safe than it is to be heartbroken? I wonder how many times women have sabotaged a potential chance at loving in the interests of “not getting hurt”?
Notice that I didn’t say a chance at “being loved” but rather at “loving someone else.” What if we have this love thing all wrong, and it’s not really about what you can get but what you can give? What if the love lesson is nothing more than expanding your limits, learning to love without expectation or demand, and getting out of your safe zone?
As I’ve pondered this, I have recognized my own tendency to take calculated risks. I don’t gamble and I generally only take safe bets—bets where I either know I’ll win or I’m not wagering enough to matter. I mean, sure it’s brave to skydive or bungee jump, but with all the safety controls in place, it’s really not that risky. True risk is when we are not sure of the outcome and we jump anyway.
I don’t believe in being foolish but I do believe that there are some risks that are worth taking. Anytime we open our hearts to another individual, we are opening ourselves to the possibility of being hurt, heartbroken, or disappointed. In fact, chances are that no matter how perfect our partner may be, we will be all those things anyway (hello, humanity!). The question for each of us to answer on our own is whether the ride is worth the fall. If you can learn to look at every situation, circumstance, and person who comes into your life as having something vital to teach you, I believe it can be.
So maybe you do get heartbroken in the end. But maybe along the way you learn some things about yourself. Maybe you learn that you can love deeper than you thought possible. Maybe you learn that you can face adversity in a new way. Maybe you learn that love can bring out vibrancy in your life you didn’t know before.
I think C.S. Lewis said it best when he said:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even 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. To love is to be vulnerable.
I’m not encouraging anyone to play Russian roulette with your heart and emotions because maybe Greg Behrendt was right, and none of us are the exception. What I want you to do is look at the possibilities before you and examine whether you can gain more from the experience than you stand to lose. Close your eyes & listen to your heart…Be vulnerable. Be open. Be courageous. Love recklessly.
— Lisa Vallejos