If there is one thing that I tell my girlfriends more than anything these days it’s this- above all else, self-preservation is key. It might sound a little pessimistic, but as a tried and true romantic who has been heartbroken over an unworthy guy more times than I’d like to admit.

I can promise any woman that keeping your cards close to your chest for a while is not going to hurt your chances at finding love. It’s like buying the protection plan for a new phone- it can’t hurt, and in the case that your phone shatters, you’ll be damn grateful to have it.

Ask yourself this..

Last time you got ghosted, dumped, or screwed over in any way, what was your biggest regret? For me, nine times out of ten it’s that I showed the person how much I cared before he gave me any reason to trust him. I gave up my power to someone who I realized in the end wasn’t worth a minute of my time.

There is nothing worse than feeling stupid at the end of a fling, knowing you could’ve kept your heart a little more secure had you only been smarter about it. Many women are often underestimated because we feel so deeply, and people equate that to weakness.

Love is strength, and I’m going to teach you reasons why pride is good and how to keep loving fully in every type of relationship while also taking care of your future self. So that no matter what he does, or how deeply she hurts you, you will always have your pride.

For hookups:

Before you think it, let me say it: straight girls, it doesn’t matter if you just want sex. Guys will usually think you want more. I don’t know why; wish I could tell you, but regardless it’s the overwhelming truth.

With that being said, you need to protect your pride in these situations the most, arguably, so you don’t go down the rabbit hole of “why does he not even want to have sex with me? Am I that ugly?” Don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there. But I don’t want you to do it again. You’re better than that.

So, this one should be the simplest, but unfortunately it is pretty complicated. It involves a little bit of games and manipulation. But let me say this: you need to know when to give the game up. The right person will earn your trust. That being said, there are a few basic principles you should live by to maintain your pride.

Don’t over-text them.

This obviously includes snapchat and other platforms. The specifics will differ based on the dynamic of the relationship, so use your judgment. Just make sure you aren’t annoying them. Most importantly, make sure they know you have a life.

Be a little mysterious.

Don’t lie and say you’re on a date or something (even if you are on a date, you don’t necessarily need to tell them). But if they ask if you’re busy, you don’t need to say, “yeah, I’m watching Moulin Rouge, crying and getting wine drunk with my dog”. It is in your power to say, “yeah, sorry, maybe later this week”.

Make them work for it.

Let the record show that you should both be putting in equal effort. All I mean is to make sure you aren’t carrying it all on your shoulders. This way, if he blows you off one day and never speaks to you again, you don’t feel like you wasted all your time and you don’t feel embarrassed.

For friends with benefits:

This one is a bit layered assuming you want to keep your friend even if the sexual part goes south. If this person is truly your friend and you care for them regardless, the self-preservation should extend to them as well. You don’t want anyone to get hurt or any roots to be deeply damaged. This is where I’d recommend you keep your distance a little.

Don’t kiss her when she leaves in the morning, don’t text him that you miss him. Don’t close yourself off to other people. If you’re in a mutual friend group, this is going to get extremely complicated and may not be worth it, so consider that. But if you decide it’s worth the risk, which bomb sex often is, just make sure you know what you’re getting into.

That being said, I want to say that this does not apply if you are actually trying to create a relationship. If you want to stay emotionally disconnected but have frequent sex and also remain friends, you have to put in the work. 

For casual/ early relationships:

So if you’re here, you probably trust the person to a certain extent. Congrats! Let your guard down a little. You don’t want to play games anymore, but you do want to keep your heart safe; they haven’t given you a goddamn promise ring. Be honest with them, but don’t tell them every tiny facet of your emotions.

Gauge what you give them based on what they give you. If he goes out of his way to bring an oat milk latte to you at work, remembering you like two pumps of caramel instead of the usual four, maybe let him in a little more. If he only texts you when he’s drunk and horny, reevaluate how much you’re giving him. Obviously, these are very basic examples, but you see my point. Proceed with caution but cut the games

For long-term/ serious relationships: 

Hopefully if you’re in one of these, you’ll trust the person. So trust isn’t really the concern here- the concern is that often, when you begin to feel super comfortable with someone, you run the risk of losing your identity. In my first relationship, I was so obsessed and in love that I lost all sense of who I was. I barely wrote unless it was about him.

My social life was primarily limited to my boyfriend, his family/ friends, and my roommates. I genuinely didn’t care about anything else; we were long-distance, so my life became a cycle of counting down the days until I could see him again. So when we broke up, I thought I was going to die because I literally had no life outside of him. That’s a mistake I’ll never make again, and I don’t want anyone else to, either.

No matter how good things are with someone, no matter how happy and comfortable and in love you are, never let your individuality slip away. That leaves you with nothing if you ever break up. Keep friends, hang out away from your significant other and talk about other things.

Maintain your pride.

Surround yourself with people who excite you, not who pale in comparison to the one you love. Keep up passions and hobbies, no matter what. Work hard, study hard, whatever. Don’t let yourself fade away. Because even if you stay together forever, your relationship won’t be happy unless you both have your own lives. And if you break up, it’ll be a hell of a lot easier if you have your independence to protect you.

In every type of relationship, whether there be zero trust or a world of it, self-preservation is an absolutely necessity. You will never be sorry you took cautionary measures to maintain your pride because heartbreak is bad enough as is and losing your dignity makes it a thousand times worse.

It’s a tricky balance to keep yourself open to love while also keeping some walls up, but hopefully these tips will help you lay the groundwork for your own lifestyle and what works best for you. Let the positive effects of pride strengthen your relationships. If you’d buy the Apple protection plan, why not utilize one for your heart? It’s free.