Being Open to Love

04/04/2013 02:01 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Love is such a powerful thing. Even the word itself can evoke strong emotion -- unless, of course, you've shut yourself off to it. And unfortunately too many people in this world have. I consider myself an expert in this area, not only because I'm the cofounder of, a long-term dating site committed to helping gay and lesbian singles find love, but because I am such a loving person myself. I'm flooded with feeling when I think about love, especially how much in love with my partner I am.

But it's not just my partner. I love my friends, my family, my career, my life, my wonderful neighbors and their cute little dog! Nauseating? Perhaps, but it's how I live my life and I love it. There is a tremendous amount of joy and happiness in my life, which is directly related to being open to both receiving and giving love.

That being said, being open to love is not always easy. For some it may come naturally but for most it takes practice. It's especially hard if you've gone through any kind of failed relationship, betrayal, or childhood heartbreak. Each time your heart is broken, it hardens. And like any other injury, it requires rehabilitation.

Let me use my own personal life as an example: My heart was sealed shut at a very young age. From surviving sexual abuse to watching a family being devastated by drug abuse, I had accumulated enough evidence to prove being open to others was dangerous. So I was not open to any kind of relationship. However, at some point I decided feeling alone wasn't working for me anymore. It took baby steps at first -- like looking people in the eyes, then sharing intimate things -- but finally after years of practice, I succeeded. And now, I love being open. You can too.

The best part about being open is that there's no limit to how many people you can be open to. But that's also a problem for some, because the more you are open to others, the more likely your heart will be broken, and some people simply can't deal with that. But don't fear that, because it's OK! It's part of being human and totally worth it.

So why wait to start? I encourage you to begin being open today. Ultimately, if you want to be open to love, you need to practice doing small things to ease into it. So do one small thing a day. Say "hi" to a cute stranger. Ask the person you've had that long-standing crush on for a date. Or if you're really shy, consider setting up a profile on a dating site. (If you're gay or lesbian, I of course would be remiss if I didn't suggest my own site,!) Even if you're a newbie to online dating, we've got lots of articles there to guide you on your way.

There may be some stumbles, but as with so many other things in life, practice makes perfect. And being open to love will make your life so much more rewarding. So go ahead, and treat yourself.