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.

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