As Though You Have Never Been Hurt Before

I’m sure you’ve all seen this quote before:

I know I’ve seen this quote a bunch and I always dismissed it as being a little bit insipid.  Oh yeah, live life with abandon, blah blah blah.  Of course, now I appreciate the last line a little more as an Atheist. 

It’s the second line that’s been giving me the most trouble lately.  “…love as though you have never been hurt before…”  What does that mean?  Well, at first glance I suppose it means to remain open-hearted, to not be jaded.  But that’s so hard.

As a kid, we’re told over and over, “learn from your mistakes.”  Touched a hot oven and burned yourself?  learn from your mistake.  Put an important assignment off to the last minute and having trouble with it?  Learn from your mistake.  Drank too much and woke up with a hangover?  Learn from your mistake.

But doesn’t that also apply to relationships?  If you treat someone badly and they break up with you, you learn from that mistake.  But if you treat someone well and they STILL break it off, what can you possibly learn?  You learn to be guarded.  You learn to put up walls.  You’ve just been hurt, and you learn not to trust anyone. 

That totally flies in the face of loving as though you have never been hurt before.  Are you supposed to toss these valuable lessons about guarding your heart and treating everyone as though they might someday hurt you right out the window?  What was all that painful “learning from our mistakes” for, then?  Insanity, they say, is defined by doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  To love as though we have never been hurt before?  That’s insane! 

But put the shoe on the other foot.  We all want to believe we are deserving of love, and trust, and a clean slate in relationships.  Haven’t we all dated someone who was so jaded that they couldn’t trust, even when they were given every reason to?  It’s unfair to hold your past baggage against somebody in the present.  Hell, even prisoners get parole.  And there’s a third famous quote I’d going to introduce to the counterpoint:  “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”  Fall off the horse?  Get back on.  Okay, but maybe we don’t trust the horse that much this time.

Deep breath.  Back in the saddle.  Giddy-up.

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