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Recently, I was talking to one of my work colleagues about relationships and dating in Bangkok.

We are both single and have been dating men casually since separately moving to Thailand last year (she is from Europe). She, however, has very different views about men and dating than I do. She believed that men should be completely chivalrous and pay for everything, decide where and when to go on dates and hail her taxis. I, on the other hand, believed in splitting the bill, deciding on places and times for dates together and organising my own transport. Sometimes I would even ask a guy out first. We both agreed that our differences in opinions were due in part to our vastly different cultures and societal norms, but there was something she said that I couldn’t help but disagree on. “In a relationship, the person who loves the other one more is the weaker one,” she remarked.

Who can blame her for saying that? We women have been taught from a young age that we must never do the pursuing but to be the pursued. We have been trained to build walls around our heart and keep it cool lest we give someone too much power to hurt us. We have an inner alarm that goes off inside of us every time we can feel ourselves getting too close to someone. We run when it comes to being vulnerable, and often we reject the other person before they reject us first.

For years and years, I avoided intimacy and vulnerability for fear of getting hurt. I built walls that were thick and high around my heart and hid from love whenever there was the slightest sprouting of it. The thing is, I still got hurt anyway. I was hurt from the men who did not know how to love me, but I also hurt myself by choosing to deny myself the one thing that makes a relationship deeply satisfying and special: vulnerability.

Over the last five years, I have been slowly unlearning fear and learning how to deeply love and be intimate with my family, friends and romantic interests without restraints. It takes courage ā€” a huge amount of courage ā€” but it also requires the wisdom to discern who is deserving of your love and who isn’t. Like the Bible verse says, it is unwise to give your pearls to pigs who will trample on them, and likewise, it is unwise to give your heart to those who cannot respect or appreciate it.

It is incredibly scary to risk your heart and lay it exposed in the other person’s hands, but it is the only way in which you can experience deep and true love. In the times I did find people who were deserving of my love, I found that those relationships flourished and grew to new levels of intimacy that some people don’t achieve in years. And believe me when I say, that when you love this authentically, you win. It may not feel like it when you are crying or grieving a break-up, but you do. You win by choosing to love in spite of societal norms telling you not to. You win by choosing vulnerability over fear. You win by sharing your heart even though it has been broken many times. Basically, you win because you put up two middle fingers to the world, ignored the bullshit it tried to teach you and bravely did what it told you not to do.

So say how you feel. Tell them you love them. Tell them you miss them. Tell them you need them. Life is too short and it is far too risky not to say how you feel. You will get hurt whether you are an ice-queen or Miss Vulnerability anyway, so why not choose to love wildly, madly and hopelessly? I would much rather cry knowing I gave it all than cry knowing I could’ve said or done more. I would much rather look back on the relationship with fond memories of intimacy than look back with regrets. I would much rather be known as someone who loved too much than someone who loved too little.

Wouldn’t you?

Photo via Birdasaurus