“I think we’re at the age where either you’re going to go for love or settle for something that isn’t.” – Tanesha Peeples

The thought of getting your heart broken can be scary. I’ve had people fall madly in love with me, look me in the face and tell me that I was everything that they ever wanted in a mate— and walk away.

After the initial phase of heartbreak, I realized that everyone who walked away from what they said they wanted did me a favor. They helped me to understand that falling in love is a very feared, yet desired component of life, but everyone will not be courageous enough to embrace it. The truth is that some people would rather control their feelings than risk getting hurt.

And in this world, that makes total sense.

We work so very hard to find love, but not to feel the pain that might come with it. But we must take a risk to even discover what could be the greatest thing to ever happen to us. Here are four reasons to fall in love…and stay there.

1. You can let your guard down.

We live in a world where feelings are treated as secondary components of a relationship and that’s IF they make it into the equation to begin with. Everyone is “out to get you” and you “can’t be caught lacking.” Those phrases are often associated with a drug cartel or gang turf war, but that’s the approach that many take when dating. The level of distrust is sickening. Claims of finding love are overshadowed by the fear of getting played. Many men do not see dates with women as sound investments, so they sometimes opt for the “Netflix and chill” approach. Some women are so guarded that they don’t even realize that they’re pushing potential mates away with their chronic exercises of control masked as “independence.”

This “me vs. you” attitude is the main reason why falling in love is feared more than celebrated. But when you do decide to give love a chance, you’re allowing yourself freedom from the burden of paranoia. The mutual act of falling in love provides a safe space for you to be vulnerable without judgment and to connect with another being for an experience that many will only dream of. He is your protection and she is your peace.

2. You’re happier.

Once you break free from the confines of viewing a potential mate as the enemy, you’ll realize that falling in love and staying there is one of the most liberating feelings that you can ever experience. The initial rush of falling for someone is a high that cannot be matched. If you don’t allow fear to take over your growing emotions, falling in love can maximize your joy and overall quality of life. You have the opportunity to bask in the glow of an emotion that should be experienced by all. Take advantage of it.

3. You’re reminded that you’re human.

Many of us go through life behaving like robots. We choose to “exist” instead of live in the name of protection. But there’s a huge difference between existing and living. One is tied to survival while the other allows for experiences that can bring undeniable joy to our lives. To allow yourself to fall is to truly live life. Anything else is simply boring, uneventful and rooted in fear. Simply put, love IS life.

4. Falling in love is why we’re here.

Okay. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I have all of the answers, but I’m pretty sure we were made to love. John Legend made a song about it so it must be true, right? Aside from religious scripture, if you think about it, everything either directly or indirectly relates to love. “Love your job.” “Tell your loved ones how you feel.” “Love a sports team.” “Love mama and ‘nem.” Love is literally all around us, so it only makes sense that we embrace it romantically. That’s what separates us from most of the animal kingdom—our ability to feel.

Allowing fear to control your heart is one of the worst mistakes one can make. You run the risk of living an empty, unfulfilled life and for the illusion of control. I’m not saying go into the world and blindly fall for just anybody, but there’s no need to always look at the glass of love as half empty. Do not run from real love when you find it. You’ll spend the rest of your life with regret if you do.

Shantell E. Jamison is an editor for EBONY.com and JETmag.com. Not confined to chasing headlines, this Chicago-based writer, radio personality and cultural critic is also the author of Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self.