You can't make room in your heart for someone if you keep the door locked.
I know. This cliché sounds a lot like bullsh*t. But just like a seed pod has to crack in order for new life to spring forth, so too must our heart crack a little in order to let in the light and air necessary for us to grow.
And yes, these are more terrible clichés that you've seen a million times via inspirational memes, but you know what? Sometimes clichés are created because they're true. So strap in, because I've got wisdom coming at you right from Metaphorville.
Most of us, when our hearts are broken for the first time, decide we're not going to let it happen again and put up walls around our hearts to protect ourselves the next go round. Any subsequent heartbreaks result in us reinforcing the wall until we're operating a fully-functioning emotional fortress.
Problem is: making yourself an island does no one any good — primarily you. The thing with developing calluses is that they protect us from pain, but they also keep us from feeling anything at all. And good God, what is the point of living with that? That's how we end up with so many loveless marriages that go on for decades because neither party wants to make themselves vulnerable. Gross.
When the great poet and love philosopher Rumi urged us to “Keep breaking your heart until it opens,” he didn't mean you should go keep throwing yourself at the same lost cause relationship that crushed you in the past, nor did he intend for each of us to flit from one abusive jerk to the next in hopes that one would stick with us. This quote is to be approached with moderation and delicateness, as with all matters of the heart.
You don't become stronger or more independent when you let your heart become cold and closed off in the aftermath of heartbreak — taking that path is how you become a sociopath who emotionally stagnates in fear. Regardless if you're alone or not, is that unfeeling ice queen someone you're going to be able to love when you look in the mirror?
It seems obvious, but you can't make room in your heart for someone if you keep the door locked, and even though the first few people you give it to aren't likely to stay forever, they call it “Heartbreak” instead of “HeartIrreparably-Damaged-And-Forever-Out-Of-Commission” for a reason.
The heart is a part of the body, and like a broken arm, it'll heal itself to be even stronger if given some time. No need to take yourself out of the game entirely, just put some WD40 on your heart's door hinges.
My point is, experiencing heartache doesn't have to cause you to harden over time. In fact, heartbreak is good for you. If you allow the process of repairing a shattered heart to give you perspective, it can, instead, give you deeper insight into how rare a luxury it is to truly surrender yourself to someone you love and how valuable it will be when you finally find that person you can trust with your heart.
And with your firsthand knowledge about the delicate nature of vulnerability you'll be perfectly suited to protecting your partner's heart, too. That kind of intimacy can't be bought, but can certainly be earned. Consider every heartache before making that your training grounds.