**Disclaimer: names of the dated have been changed to protect their anonymity.**
**Disclaimer 2: I don't talk about this part of my life a lot, so I'm taking a BIG leap of faith by posting this**
For those of you who know me in real life, you know I don't date much. I've always had a lot of guy friends, but not a lot of boyfriends. When I was still living at home and would get upset about being single, my mom would always tell me that I intimidated boys because I was loud and smart and funny. To me this has always been a weird statement to handle. I know that I'm loud; but the smart and funny comment are somewhat debatable. And (for argument's sake) even if I am smart and funny, why wouldn't these things be qualities that a guy would look for in a girl? And I'm not THAT loud.
When I was in high school I'd had a boyfriend. We were pretty serious at graduation and went to the same college, so we kept on dating. We were together through our first year at UVA and then the first semester of our second year. For reasons I won't go into here, we broke up just after that second Christmas break. To me, it happened suddenly; but I think he knew he wanted to end things for a while. Because I was 19 and naive and had low self-esteem, I left that relationship broken. I ate and cried and ate and cried and ate and cried. Three months later I was 30 pounds heavier and only just starting to piece my life together. Not only was I up about 4 pant sizes, but I also seriously doubted and despised everything about myself: I felt disgusting, ugly, stupid, undesirable, and hopeless.
Throughout the rest of college and when I was working, I'd fall head over heels for a guy only for him to fall head over heels for another girl or for the timing to not work out. More often than not I was friend-zoned (yes this can happen to girls too). Thankfully (or maybe ironically), law school saved me from this pattern. True, I didn't date; but I also had a lot on my plate - there was a lot of studying, papers to write, exams to take - a ready excuse to the answer "why aren't you seeing anyone?" It also didn't leave a lot of time to meet new people and most of the guys in my program were either married, seriously dating someone, or seriously not my type.
About a year ago I decided I was ready to take the plunge and start dating. I went on a few first dates - some were ok, some were not. I met some new people, gained some confidence, felt better about myself. All positives.
Then I met Steve. We met at a wedding. We danced for most of the night and hung out at the after party. I gave him my number and we texted a lot for a while. He even took me out on New Year's. Since we lived several states apart, we talked and texted a lot, but didn't see each other often/ever. In the end it didn't work out. But because of all the conversations and the interest that Steve showed me, I felt like I could be seen as interesting.
As things fizzled out with Steve, I met Nate. Nate was in the class behind me at my law school and was a friend of a friend. We met at a school function and wound up hanging out for the rest of the day. He asked for my number and called a few days later to ask me out. Nate and I got dinner and had a great first date. He was sweet, funny, and very shy. We hung out pretty regularly throughout the semester, but it was never serious. Nate was always complimentary and paid me a lot of attention when I would run into him. Even though nothing really happened between me and Nate, he made me feel attractive and desirable.
The semi-relationship / romantically-tinged friendships I had with Steve and Nate made me feel better about myself than I had in years. I finally could see myself in a relationship; finally believed that someone would actually want to date me. After years and years of watching my friends fall in and out of love, I was finally ready to fall on my own.
Then I met Henry.
But that's a story for another day.