How To Open Up Again (And Let Yourself Be Vulnerable) After Being Hurt

It's a process.

how to be vulnerable after heartbreak Jeremiah Curtis on Unsplash

About two years ago I met this guy. He was cute, sweet, charming, and funny — everything I thought I wanted, at least at the time. I fell hard; you know the story. Sure, we had some problems, but who doesn’t? I was absolutely smitten.

Within less than a year of dating, he cheated on me. 

I still don’t really know how to accurately describe what it felt like when I found out. It felt a lot like crying in my bed with a quart of ice cream. It felt a lot like I needed girl’s nights and face masks. It felt a lot like a little too much cheap white wine. I felt like beating myself up for months.


Most of all, I felt this guilt and began questioning my worth. What drove him to cheat? Why wasn't I enough? Was there more I could've done? 

Most of us have been there at one time or another — rock bottom, where all the feelings hit harder than they usually would. 

Being hurt is a part of life, but after so many scars and bruises, you start to feel like your whole body is a punching bag. And one day, after taking so much for so long, the bag is going to split. But you patch yourself up with a little duct tape and keep going.

RELATED: Why You Will Feel Free When You Embrace Being Vulnerable


The real question is, how do you jump back in the ring after you were left gasping for air while drowning in hurt? And more importantly, how do you open yourself up to love again?

One of the pieces of advice I find myself sharing again and again about dating is that it’s important to know who you are and be confident in yourself BEFORE you start dating someone. Being confident in yourself is about knowing that you are enough and not relying on the presence of someone else to confirm that fact. Otherwise, if things do go south, you just lost your SO and your self-confidence at the same time. 

One way to work toward self-confidence is affirmations. Whenever you think something positive about yourself, hang onto it. Remind yourself of that moment where you fell in love with your smile, or you were proud of your talents.

I know it sounds cheesy and you’ve probably heard it before, but I’m saying it again because affirmations really do make a difference. Keep a journal of all these little affirmations and remind yourself of what's fantastic about you. The other way I do this is by taking selfies. You heard me! I'm talking no makeup, no hair products. Pictures when you think you look good as you are to look back on when you're feeling ugly or fat or whatever. These photos serve as a little reminder of your beautiful moments. 

RELATED: 5 Ways You Subconsciously Close Your Heart To Love


The other thing you have to remember is that beginning something with someone new means that you are starting fresh. You’re starting anew.

This person hasn’t hurt you yet, so holding them accountable for what someone else did is unfair. Remind yourself of this when you feel that pang of insecurity as they head out for a night on the town or after a rough fight. 

Let the past stay in the past. It’s hard to do sometimes, especially when you really care about someone and you’ve been really wounded in the past, but you must learn to let go.

Think about it this way: remember your first love, when you were optimistic, hopeful, and maybe a little bit dumb. You trusted your first love and accepted the risk as you put your heart in their hands. Try to begin every relationship with this level of optimism. Try to trust first and let someone prove you wrong instead of judging too quickly. That says more about them than it would about you anyway. Give them a fair chance.


RELATED: How To Trust Someone Again After They've Betrayed You & Broken Your Heart

When you’re ready, take opening up in steps. Share small pieces, one at a time. You don’t have to tell your whole story all at once. It isn’t a race. If someone takes the time to listen, it’s worth taking the chance and being vulnerable. Push yourself to share what you can and express your feelings as well as you are able to. Someone who cares about you will want to know what has hurt you in the past and they'll be patient enough to wait for the story you have to share. 

Opening up yourself to hurt after you've been heartbroken is terrifying, so wait until you're ready. Take your time. Remember, love isn't a race. Take baby steps, share what pieces of yourself you can. You'll get there. 

And let's be honest, you deserve to get yourself back out there. Just be patient with yourself.


RELATED: How To Break The Streak Of Dating Losers — So You Can Finally Find Someone Amazing

Beth El Fattal is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.