When an animal is injured it hides away to lick its wounds and recover. The difference is, unless mortally wounded an animal will come back into the world. Many humans don’t.
When you get played, you can’t help but look back, analyse and overthink. How did I read him so wrongly? How did I misread the signs? You lose faith in your judgement of people’s characters, and put walls up to protect yourself. It doesn’t matter that your family and friends bought his nice guy routine as well; you feel ashamed of yourself for being a mug, trusting someone who wasn’t worthy of you and giving your heart to someone who gleefully threw it in the blender.
But a life without love is a life of loneliness. We humans are sociable creatures, and we need love in our lives and human contact to function at our best. Not always romantic love, but any kind of emotional intimacy can be scary after such a betrayal.
I don’t want to go through the hellish side of love again, the utter devastation and destruction of all you believe in when it collapses around you. I certainly don’t want to get played again.
And yet… The eternal optimist in me believes that not every man has a rotten core. There’s many shades of man, not just the 2 stereotypes – Mr Alpha who’ll break your heart, and Mr Nice-But-Unsexy who’ll care about you but not make you swoon. So maybe I’ll meet someone who respects me and treats me well – and who I can treat well too.
There is a tiny part of me that wants to ask the next male that comes into my life if he can promise he will never hurt me. That he will only ever be honest and open, and not play games. As much as that would be nice, no one is perfect – we all make mistakes, break promises and hurt people we love, even unintentionally. The key is in what we learn from it and how to ensure we don’t do the same again in an endless cycle. But no one can guarantee they’ll never cause you pain. I’m sure I will get hurt again – but equally so, I’m sure I’ll hurt another person at some stage in my life. I do believe I’ll never set out to hurt anyone intentionally.
The truth is we can never truly know another person. Many people don’t even truly know themselves. It’s only when we see the raw evil and ugliness in someone’s character that we can know what they are capable of. That said, when they go all out and show unimaginable kindness and humanity we know what they are capable of, and we feel glad we gave them a chance.
The key is, think about what you really want. I’ve realised I’m not a fan of the multi-dating approach anymore; it’s too clinical and compare-the-meerkat. I’d rather meet one decent guy and take things very slowly, building up some kind of a trust bond. We’re now at the age where we have been hurt by love at least once, and guys can be just as scared of getting hurt again as we girls can.
Go into it for the right reasons. Be secure in yourself before becoming a part of something else. Take is slowly, talk openly, don’t get your hopes up, don’t assume it will be love. But equally, don’t write it off as a damp squib – people can surprise you. And hey, if I can take a leap of faith….