They say the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, when someone says you’re too “guarded” when it comes to letting new people in, it’s kind of hard to believe that it could be true — especially if you’ve been burned before. And while it’s safe to say that to have a full, meaningful relationship you have to open yourself up eventually, it’s also okay (and even wise) to proceed with caution. Let’s face it, building a wall around yourself isn’t always a bad thing.

Look, a guarded heart is a heart punched so many times, it eventually hardens and rarely softens. Those with guarded hearts understand the difficulty in balancing trust and emotions. We don’t want to be cold, yet we don’t want to be taken advantage of either. Having to protect our hearts might as well be a full-time job. Let’s look at some of the reasons having a guarded heart isn’t always such a bad thing, and remember, it’s okay to be you!

You understand that not everyone’s intentions are pure.

Not everyone is on the same level as you. You’re not crazy; there are people who would hurt you and not feel bad about it. Your job is to try and to figure out who those people are before you’ve got three kids, a marriage, and a minivan.

You accept that you don’t have to let EVERYONE in.

Being a completely open book with everyone who shows you a little attention can cause a lot of unnecessary drama. Use your judgement and be discerning of who you let in and you can save yourself a whole lot of headaches. Sometimes, you have to be guarded. It’s just necessary.

Love gurus everywhere will tell you to take a shot at love, to open up, and let someone in, but that’s insanity. It’s a one-way ticket to winding up married to some fool who sucks.

You are discriminating about who your friends are.

As you scroll through your newsfeed you see — mostly girls — post pictures captioned “My Bestie” or “Best friends forever” after just knowing a person for a week or even days. Now, personally, I feel that is ridiculous. What do you know about a person after a few days of hanging out? These friendships that start so great and so quickly usually end shortly.

Don’t get me wrong, some people meet someone and automatically become best friends and it works out. But for guarded hearts, this never happens. If we consider someone our best friend, we have been close with him or her for at least a year and could trust him or her with our lives. We take the term “best friend” very seriously and expect the people in our lives to do the same.

You don’t share every detail about your life.

Everyone has secrets and personal or family issues. Some people air their dirty laundry for everyone to see, but others keep their lives to themselves. My thought process is as follows: everyone has their own problems, so why should I burden them with my own. They don’t need the extra issues to worry about or carry on their shoulders. Even if you are our best friend, you probably don’t know every detail or problem in our lives. On the other hand, if we share something personal with you, know it is rare and means we trust you.

You prefer quality to quantity.

Why have 20 good friends when you can have 5 best friends? Some people constantly need to be a part of a large group of friends, but people who are guarded prefer a smaller group of close friends. A large group means inevitable and unnecessary drama and probably a future split. Surrounding yourself with a smaller group of friends that you can trust to be loyal and there for you always is much more fulfilling.

You are the farthest thing from fake and stay clear of phonies.

Fake people are the worst. Fake smiles, fake laughs, fake friends. You can’t trust fake people with anything more than the latest gossip around campus. Guarded folks are the opposite of this. We are real and will not lie to you. If you want an honest opinion, we are the person you come to. If you need clear, unbiased advice, come on by. But if you are going to pretend to be someone you’re not, stay away and take your fakeness with you. We don’t want you to waste our time, and we most certainly won’t waste yours.

Your emotions are incredibly intense.

Why? Because we rarely follow our feelings. We like to think of ourselves as emotionally intelligent, so we keep them inside which is why when we do show them, they’re more intense than need be. I’m sad can mean I’m dying and sobbing inside, I’m frustrated usually means I could punch a hole in that freaking building right now, and that’s insane means I’m judging you…really hard.

You know your worth.

You have been burned and won’t let it happen again. This shows an attuned sense of self-awareness. People will say you’re shutting people out, but you’re not. You’re shutting the WRONG people out. You’re a warrior with zero time for nonsense. It’s commendable. No matter what the haters say. You’re a worthy challenge and you know that. You set the stakes high, bolt the gate, and wait for the person who is up to the task.

You are worth it and you know it. You’re not looking for just anything. You’re looking for the thing that makes being open WORTH it to YOU.

You understand how life works.

If you’re guarded, you’re not just damaged or broken or intense. You understand that people are not to be trusted without earning it. You get that for the most part, people are kind of terrible. You can call me a downer all you want. You can say that I have a bleak view of humanity.

I say that you just don’t get it. If you think that people should be automatically given the benefit of the doubt, you probably haven’t had enough life experience to have a clear view of the world. The world is a tough place. It’s cruel.

Remember that being guarded and careful isn’t always wrong, especially when it comes to people who you feel won’t reciprocate your commitment and love. And while closing yourself off completely is definitely the safest bet, it doesn’t always have the best payoff. Eventually you’ll find someone worthy of your vulnerability and when you do, I would encourage you to let them in. But only when your heart is ready.