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Carolyn Lee Arnold
February 10, 2022

6 Ways to Protect and Nurture Your Heart While Dating

How can we date so that our heart is not just protected, but nurtured enough to stay open?

I comforted my hurt heart with loving messages from my head, my body, and my friends.

Original version published in Carolyn’s Blog.

Dating can be wearing on a woman’s heart

Hopes get raised and dashed over and over, wearing away our women’s hearts like ocean waves nibbling at a heart on the sand. 

Hopes are raised by the fantasy of a partner’s potential—from what we know about the person and how they may seem special and perfect for us.  Then those hopes are often dashed by reality – we meet him or her and either we don’t like them, or they don’t like us.

Dating plus sex is even harder

The pain of hopes raised and dashed are all compounded if we make love on an early date, and then either of us decides that we aren’t a match. 

Ouch!  Our hearts can be pierced by rejection at any time, but the deeper we feel the attraction and longing, the more we become attached to the fantasy of the person’s potential, and the deeper we can be hurt.

How can we date so that our heart is not just protected, but nurtured enough to stay open to love?

Why I needed to protect and nurture my heart

When I was dating to find a life partner in my late 50’s, my heart experienced the complete range of hopes raised and dashed—times 50! I had set a goal of going on 50 dates so that I could experience different types of men and learn about what I wanted in a partner and a relationship. During this ‘dating project,’ chronicled in my memoir, Fifty First Dates After Fifty, I was also sexual with many of my dates, so my heart felt the hopes raised and dashed even deeper, over and over, like ocean waves.  Still, I persevered and found my partner. How did I take care of my heart?

Six ways I protected and nurtured my heart

Here are the steps I took to protect and nurture my heart through 50 dates, with and without being sexual. Would any of these ideas work for you?

  1. I set a goal of a number of dates (50!), so I was not invested in any one date working out. I could move on easier after each date (Why this number? See my blog post  Why 50 First Dates?)
  2. I found friends with benefits – male friends who mutually agreed we were not going to become partners, but wanted to support me as lovers while I dated.  Then I had ongoing touch and sex from them, so I didn’t have to expect it from my dates.
  3. With dates who were potential partners, I had enough safe, non-sexual dates to get to know them before I considered making love with them.
  4. I kept my women friends up to date on my dating life, so if there were any hopes raised and dashed, they could comfort me and remind me that he was not the one. (This is part of overall self-care. See my blog post, 8 Dating Self-Care Tips)
  5. When my heart got hurt, I had heart to heart talks with her.  I listened to her, hugged her, told her (out loud) that I loved her and that she was amazing to stay open even though she got hurt. I stayed present with her until she felt better. This was the most important way I moved beyond hurt.  There are several examples of this in my book.
  6. I comforted my hurt heart with loving messages from my head, my body, and my friends. I wrote myself love notes, cuddled on the couch with my cat, watched my favorite sit coms and rom coms, took baths with peaceful music. I alerted my friends and lovers via email or text and they sent comforting notes, or came by and hugged me. All these things together comforted and healed my heart. My heart could recover and go on when she knew she was loved.  My book includes many instances of this type of comfort.

Bonus tip: If I forgot any of these steps, I forgave myself, usually with the help of friends.

Did it work?

Yes! When my heart felt loved, I could let those ocean waves of hope rise and fall around me without eating away at my heart. And each wave got me closer to finding my partner.

May your heart feel loved, nurtured, and protected on your dating journey!


Carolyn Lee Arnold is the author of Fifty First Dates After Fifty: A Memoir and a blog called Adventures in Dating and Life!  For more information, please visit or contact Carolyn on Revel.

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