Dating Expert Reveals The Worst Possible Thing You Can Say To Someone You Like

This isn't the way to get the love you deserve.

Last updated on Apr 03, 2024

Bad date  fizkes, Milkos | Canva 

When it comes to red flags in dating, there’s one line that practically deserves a flashing “WARNING” sign. Perhaps you’ve heard it or a slight variation: “You don’t understand. I’ve been hurt before, so I need you to protect my heart.” While my assessment may sound harsh, don't confuse my directness with callousness. I don’t mean to seem uncaring or to come across as unsympathetic toward anyone’s pain. On the contrary, I'm very compassionate and empathetic. It's my job to help great people heal their wounds, so they can have rich and fulfilling relationships with great partners who complement them. The challenge is, that you can’t build the kind of magnificent relationship that you deserve on such a weak foundation. 


Your relationship is only as strong as the weakest link, and if one party or both parties bond over their “brokenness,” there’s only so far you can go from that point. You have two people limping along in a weakened state. Maybe there's some attraction when you gaze into the mirror of another’s familiar wounds, but your potential for success is limited at best. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if you haven’t healed your past, you’re almost guaranteed to attract the very thing you don’t want — another heartbreak! And I'll tell you why.

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This advice was inspired by a woman who told a man she was dating “I’ve been hurt before, so I need you to protect my heart.” I hate to ruin the ending of the story for you, but let’s just say that it didn’t end well. The problem is, when you argue for your limitations, you now have to keep them. ​In other words, you need to realize that your thoughts have a cost, and while it may seem like a good way to artificially extract some kind of pledge from a person you’re dating, we both know that’s not going to hold up when things get real.

Holding on to heartbreak or disappointment doesn’t prevent pain in your relationships — it assures it. If you build a wall around your heart, who will tolerate that long-term? Why would anyone put up with you acting distant, resistant, or inconsistent? Your fear of vulnerability doesn’t prevent you from being hurt. It prevents your partner from seeing the best of you. Too many people think vulnerability is a weakness, but that's the opposite of the truth. Vulnerability is your greatest strength because there’s something really about someone who confidently “owns” themselves — flaws and all.



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When you keep people at arm’s length for too long, they eventually tire of the disappointment and frustration and give up trying to get close to you. The irony is, that you may use the fact that another person left to justify your standoffishness, but don’t fool yourself. They didn’t leave because love equals pain. They left because they didn’t experience the best of you, and you left them no choice. Disappointments don’t happen so you can learn to live in fear. They happen so you can get the learning experience that comes with them. In life, nothing has any meaning except the meaning you give it. Whether you believe the world is full of liars and cheats who will break your heart or you believe it’s full of heroes and angels who are doing their best, that's what your experience will reflect. Ironically, it’s the same world. We don’t necessarily attract what we want — we attract what we are, what we believe, what we need, and what we expect. 

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If you haven’t resolved and healed your past heartbreaks or disappointments and you keep attracting people with the same recurring issues, it means one thing; you haven't learned the lesson. If that’s the case, you're highly likely to get the lesson again and again until you learn. It's easy to believe that all the problems are with them, but it's also a mistake to assume that. If you want to heal and move past those old painful experiences, there’s one critical question you must ask again and again: “What was my role in that?” You're the one common denominator in every poor partner choice you’ve ever made. It’s not a coincidence or just random luck. Whether you attract unavailable partners, deceitful partners, or even abusive partners, there's a lesson in it that your soul needs.



Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that anyone deserves to be treated badly. On the contrary. I’m saying that the lesson from that experience is that you deserve better. When you get that lesson, your experiences will radically change for the better. But the reality is that it’s your job and yours alone to do the work to heal your wounds. I promise you — it's the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do, and it will change your life. If you have any questions about how exactly to go about healing old wounds, I invite you to reach out and schedule a time to discuss it. There’s no charge, and it’s my gift to you. The only thing you have to lose is some fear, uncertainty, and maybe an old story or two that isn’t working for you. 


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Dave Elliott is a relationship coach, human behavior specialist, and author of The Catch Your Match Formula. He has appeared in multiple media outlets and publications, including eHarmony, PopSugar, Latina, Psych Central, and Fox News, among many others.