A theme you will hear repeatedly in our Grown Zone posts, on Grown Zone Radio and in our book Loving In The Grown Zone, is the importance of making your heart, body, money and home the last things you grant access to in a romantic (or any) relationship, not the first. You’ll do a much better job of making healthy, self-loving decisions—and avoid or quickly recover from unhealthy choices—if you accept full and complete responsibility for who gains access to these four things, regardless of your relationship status (even when you are in a marriage or committed relationship). However, this is not what society and popular culture (including our family, friends and peers) tell us; rather, it’s just the opposite: The first things we are expected to surrender in order to win, secure or prove our love is our bodies, money, homes and hearts.

You’re in love (or want it, or just a chance at it)? You’d better hurry up and blow each others’ mind in bed (often within hours of meeting)! Wine and dine her and lavish her with gifts (or pay her bills)! Make room for him in your apartment (or get the key to his). And above all, be vulnerable! After all, if you’re in love, how can you not trust each other?

Otherwise smart, sensible people think this way all the time. It’s never healthy, and too often ends in disaster. Throwing caution to the wind and risking all for the love of a sexy stranger is yet another romantic notion you must reject for your own good. Society says to risk everything for love. We say: screw society.

Here’s the truth: “Loving” someone you don’t completely know is not love; it’s an ego-driven, dangerous and self-indulgent attempt at fantasy fulfillment. And choosing to trust someone that you have not taken the time to know is volunteering to be victimized. Trust easily granted is easily betrayed—providing endless fodder for television court cases and true-crime TV dramatizations, too many of which start out with two people “in love.”

Merely having a strong initial attraction to a person you’ve just met or are still getting to know is yet another one of those things often defined as “love” that are anything but. A stranger you feel deeply attracted to (sexually, emotionally or otherwise) is still a stranger. You wouldn’t likely give a person you don’t know free and easy access to your body, home, money and heart. Why are you so eager to give up the panties, your cash and your keys to a stranger? Blame fear, desperation, an unhealthy need for the approval, a self-love deficit—anything but love. Good, healthy love never requires you to put yourself at that kind of risk.

Grown people accept total responsibility for protecting their heart (trust/emotional safety), body (sexual health/powers of procreation), money (financial resources/stability) and home (peace of mind/physical security). That’s because these are the four primary ways we bond to other people. Think about it: Once you are bonded by finances, cohabitation, procreation and emotional attachment, you are, in effect, married—but with none of the benefits and legal protections of marriage. Far too many people are “marrying” strangers, and the break-ups are even messier than most divorces.) Access to these should never be entrusted to anybody who hasn’t shown and proven over time (not just promised in moments of passion or romance), that they are ready, willing and able to protect these things as if they were their own (which means they must be committed to their own self-love).

Here’s one more important reason to withhold access to your body, money, heart and home—if the relationship proves unhealthy or unsustainable (as the vast majority of them do), it can end without any lasting damage or messiness, beyond perhaps the hurt feelings or sense of loss common to break-ups. No children. No sexually transmitted diseases. No depleted bank accounts or ruined credit. No having to get someone out—or getting kicked out—of your apartment. No possibility of emotional abuse or betrayal. All because you were Grown enough not to put the things most precious to you prematurely at risk. Each of you can take the lessons you were meant to learn from the relationship (which are what give every relationship value and meaning), and keep it moving, that much closer to the healthy, resilient loving relationships we all deserve. In the Grown Zone, we call that success without the mess.

The reason people surrender access to their bodies, home, money and heart so easily to others is because society tells us we should (anything for “love”), and because often they’ve never truly taken ownership of these for themselves. You need to be your first love; until you fall in love with self and learn to put you first, you have no right to expect it from anybody else. That means asserting absolute ownership of your body, heart, money, and home, and making them the last things you offer up in a relationship, not the first things you give up in order to get or keep one.

Stop chasing and losing. Start ATTRACTING and CHOOSING! Learn proven guidelines and principles GUARANTEED to make you happy and fulfilled REGARDLESS OF YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIP STATUS. Use the power of self love to become an irresistible MAGNET for the lasting, drama-free, AUTHENTIC LOVE created specifically for you and ONLY you! Order your copy of Loving In The Grown Zone TODAY at LovingInTheGrownZone.com!