Women who are falling in love but are afraid of being hurt again usually display these 8 subtle behaviors

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Loving someone the second time around is always a lot harder than the first.

The first time, it’s easy to fall and fall hard. Being in love feels natural, freeing, and all-consuming.

But once you’ve had your heart broken, it doesn’t feel freeing anymore. Falling in love is the thing you fear the most.  

Heartbreak can be a teaching thing, but the more you experience it, the harder it can be to fall in love again. Or at least, to admit that you’re falling and let it happen!

Instead of exciting, it feels scary. It feels vulnerable and not in a good way. It feels like you’re opening yourself up to a whole lot of hurt. Which, realistically, you are.

When you feel this way, you do subtle things – all in the name of protecting yourself.

Like the following:

1) You only share snippets of your life

Opening up to someone feels vulnerable. When you show yourself to someone, you open yourself up to their scrutiny (and, of course, their love and compassion).

But this is something you can control! Liking someone is internal, but sharing your soul is external.

So when you’re scared of getting hurt again, you hold onto the control you have. You become a little more selective about what you share about yourself.

You won’t be a totally closed book. But you might only offer snippets and surface-level information, rather than too much of your history or personality…

2) You withdraw after moments of closeness

I remember the date I went on when I realized I was falling in love. He texted me the next morning and I didn’t respond for hours.

It wasn’t because I wanted to “make him wait” (more on this on the next point). It was because I wanted to think things through.

Realizing I was falling in love was scary. So instead of responding in a panic, I needed to calm down and fully understand how I felt. Basically, I withdrew.

When you withdraw after moments of closeness all the time, you might have an avoidant attachment style. This means intimacy scares you, so you constantly withdraw to protect yourself.

But if this behavior is only temporary, you might be doing it because you’re falling in love and you’re scared of how that makes you feel.

You know it means opening yourself up to heartbreak again, so you want to slow down and decide what you really want to do (NOT what your fear wants).

3) You unintentionally play hard to get

Some women play hard to get and it’s all a game. But some women just ARE hard to get – and it isn’t a game they’re playing at all!

You’re not acting this way to make the other person work harder. Like intentionally saying you aren’t free to make them wait…

You’re doing it to protect yourself and, instead of it being a conscious act, you’re totally unaware you’re doing it!

Like you might not consider canceling your pre-planned self-care night to go on a date with them. Or you might not agree to a bedtime video call because you genuinely don’t think it’s a good idea.

They might think you’re playing hard to get, but you don’t. You’re just doing what you always do and living inside your comfort zone, not realizing how much you’re pushing them away…

4) You have “rules” for certain things

When you’ve been hurt before, you dive deep into the reasons why you got so hurt.

You look at what happened, what went wrong, and what you could’ve done to prevent it. You try to understand why you got so hurt and how to avoid it in the future.

When you start dating again, you remember the past and use it to set some firm boundaries. Some you might be aware of, but others might be totally subconscious.

Like how you might never text them after a certain time so you can fall asleep without getting used to their goodnight message. Or how you might never stay out on a date for longer than a couple of hours. Or how you might not look at your phone immediately after it goes off so you don’t get too attached. The list goes on…

The more you think about it, the more you realize you have these rules and habits. And they’re probably signs that you’re afraid of getting hurt again. And maybe that you’re already more attached than you think…

5) You wait for them to make the first move

When you’re in love and unafraid, you grab life by the horns and ride things out! But when you’re afraid, you absolutely don’t.

In fact, you hardly ever make the first move. You won’t share information about yourself if they don’t share it first. You won’t suggest a date if they don’t. You won’t even go to kiss them if they don’t give you “the signs”.

You’ll always wait for them to make the first move.

Once again, you might not be aware you’re doing this. You might just be constantly sizing up how much they like you and what their behavior means. Rather than thinking about how YOUR behavior is making THEM feel.

6) You constantly want to know how they feel

Even if you don’t have an anxious attachment style in relationships, falling in love can be anxiety-inducing when you’ve been hurt before.

How do you resolve that anxiety? By wanting to know how they feel. Knowing how they’re feeling about you is one of the only things that reassures you.

So day by day, you might seek this reassurance without even realizing it. You might ask questions you already know the answer to, just to hear them say it again.

Or you might ask questions just to check if they still like you. And, of course, to make sure YOU aren’t the only one who’s falling…

7) You ramp up your independence

You can be independent when single or in a relationship. But there’s no denying that there’s more independence to be had when you’re single!

You make every decision alone. You do everything by yourself. Essentially, you do what you want.

In a relationship, you give up some (not all) of your independence. You start doing stuff together and thinking about them before making a decision.

When you start falling for someone but are scared of how you feel, you might cling to this independence. It feels safe and you find comfort in knowing that you’re still “who you are”. Essentially, you feel in control.

When this happens, you might insist on doing certain things by yourself, perhaps hurting them in the process. All because you don’t want to “give it all up” just yet.

8) You get defensive easily

When you’re afraid of getting hurt by your feelings, you want to hide them. You don’t want people to know about them, because if they know, your fears might come true. I.e., you might get hurt!

Sadly, these feelings can manifest into defensive behaviors. So when you feel threatened or like someone is “onto” how you feel, you lash out.

Like if they said something casual like, “We’ve got a good relationship here”, you might say something like, “Who said we’re in a relationship?”.

Or if they say, “You love doing that, don’t you?”, you might insist that you don’t “love” doing anything with them at all.

You might do the same things when friends talk about them – getting overly defensive when they ask whether you like this person or if it’s anything serious.

This behavior might unintentionally hurt the person you’re falling for. And even though you’re only doing it because you’re scared of getting hurt, it’s self-sabotage…

Final thoughts

Heartbreak really can do a number on you. But does that mean you should run from love and never open yourself up to anyone again?

No, it really shouldn’t. At least, it shouldn’t if you want to be happy.

I’m not saying anyone NEEDS a relationship to be happy, but refusing to admit you’re in love when you ARE in love isn’t going to make you happy.

So if you recognize these behaviors in yourself, I think you already know what you need to do.

You need to face your fears and your feelings. You need to step out of your comfort zone and open yourself up to love again.

It’ll be difficult and probably a bit scary. But you never know – it could be the best thing you ever did!

And if it isn’t, what’s the harm? You got over heartbreak once before, right? You can always do it again…

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

14 things a narcissist does when they realize you’re pulling away

People who are very attractive but not conventionally good-looking usually display these 6 behaviors