How Much of my Heart do I Give Away?

We started this advice column as a space to hear and attempt to answer questions that our readers may be struggling with. While this column mostly focuses on dating, love, and sex, we will take a crack at answering any Sikhi related questions! These are all tough topics to handle alone and not all of us have friends or family to turn to for advice. We hope this advice column can begin to fill this gap!

Going through the experience of college has been amazing. I’m learning so much about myself, Vaheguru, and a lot about what the world has to offer. However, I find myself in a dilemma of how much I should give my heart away when dating. I’m a very loving and sensitive person and I don’t want to protect myself too much to the point where I’m turning people down. So my question is how I can find a healthy balance between not falling too hard and not falling in love enough?

Dear Kaur,

We are so glad to hear that you are using your time in college to learn more about your relationship to Sikhi and your emotional self. College is the land of many “firsts” when it comes to academic challenges, living environments, friends, and more. For many, college means shedding the comforts of home and childhood and being forced to adapt to unfamiliar environments and people. The fears you have about emotionally investing in a relationship are very real and can be tough to balance. It is natural to want to keep your heart guarded by avoiding investing too heavily in others. There is nothing wrong with this or giving yourself time to think.

Equity-First Kaur believes that every relationship, whether it ends positively or negatively for your heart, is willed into your life to teach you more about yourself. If you are too cautious, you may miss an opportunity to be in a positive, healthy relationship that pushes you to grow, love, and feel in new ways. Dating or being in a relationship requires you to open up and show your whole self to your partner to see if you connect. If things do not work out, you will know yourself a little better for the next time. You will get a better understanding of what you need and want in a partner, and more importantly, what you do not want. As you hinted at, it is important to think these decisions through before taking the next step, to self-reflect and consult with people whose opinions you value. The following are prompt-questions and thoughts you can use to begin!

Is this person worth your time?

Instead of asking the question of how much you want to “give” of yourself to the relationship, pose the question, “Do I want to spend my time with this person?” People-First Kaur describes, “I spent a lot of time during my undergrad questioning and grappling with whether I wanted to spend my free time with the person I was dating. After all, I was in college, and there were so many friendships and networks to explore.” Asking the question, “Does this person deserve my free time?” might help clarify whether the relationship is right for you in your current state.

What are your values and life goals?

It is important to know what your personal values and lifestyle goals are before beginning a relationship or choosing to deepen a relationship. Often times, having shared values helps build a stronger relationship foundation than simply having shared interests. Personal values can include things like compassion, clear communication, honesty, or optimism. Lifestyle values can include things like, “Kirtan is, and always will be, a part of my life,” or “Living an environmentally sustainable life is important to me.”

You may be charmed off of your feet by someone who may not have similar personal or lifestyle values. Having a clear list of what you want and do not want in a relationship will help you think with your head when your heart wants to lead. Deeply knowing yourself will help you be strong in your needs while preventing you from compromising your core values for someone who simply makes you feel good in the moment. In Gurbani, the Gurus discuss the importance of controlling your mind and emotions in order to have a fruitful life. For instance, in Jap Ji Sahib, Guru Nanak Sahib advises us to not only know ourselves and our minds but to conquer our minds.

ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥

“Conquer your own mind, and conquer the world,” Ang 6, Guru Nanak Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib.

In practical terms, this can mean knowing your weaknesses, knowing when you are rationalizing something that is not good for you, knowing whether you are taking the next step in a relationship for the right reasons.

Remember, you are in control. You can choose who you love.

Mandy Len Catron has a great Ted Talk called, “A better way to talk about love,” in which she describes that, as a society, we think of love as falling or diving or jumping–acts that are risky and beyond our consent. She goes on to say that this is a problem because it positions people as the victims of matters beyond their control. Try thinking of love and relationships less as falling, and more as the culmination of a myriad of choices. Emotional Kaur says, “Love and relationships are full of choice. They don’t have to be ‘all or nothing’. I get to choose to take active steps towards what feels right and away from what feels off for me. Reminding myself of that choice and that I am in control makes the process feel a little less scary. It helps me remember that even if I take one step forward, I can always take another step back.”

Keep a place within you that is pristine, that no one can touch.

Emotional Kaur says, “I would also describe myself as a very emotional and loving person. When I was in college, I fell for some guy and I was willing to do anything for him–and so I did. I gave him my heart, my body, and most importantly, my time. When he finally broke my spirit, I felt like there were no pieces of myself left to pick up; I felt like I was left with nothing. I say this not to scare you or to advise you against giving your heart away. My circumstances were unique, as are yours. Rather, I wish I had tucked away a little piece of myself that he could not touch. This is something I learned from Maya Angelou years later.” Maya Angelou advises, There’s a place in you that you must keep inviolate, you must keep it pristine. You must keep it clean so that nobody has the right to curse you, or treat you badly. Nobody.’”

It is important to remember the things that make you “you.” If being in a relationship starts taking away from you as an individual or your Sikhi (if that is important to you), perhaps things have tipped too far towards a relationship that is not right for you. If the decision to take steps towards love or a relationship aligns with your values and feels right for you, you should continue forward. You should not live in fear of pain, heartbreak, or betrayal. It is okay to share your heart as long as you remember to keep a little piece for yourself.

Each relationship will teach you something about yourself. Each relationship will help you understand your needs better, and what works for you. We hope our advice was helpful, but we know that even if it was not, you are going to be fine. You are an intelligent and thoughtful individual who is already two steps in the right direction to figuring it all out. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. You got this. We wish you the best!

Guru Rakha,

Some Sikhs with Some Thoughts

The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, psychological, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. This column, its authors, Kaur Life, Kaur Life’s affiliates, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.

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