This is a very simplified version of my dating history but it gives an idea.
When I was old enough to date, (ok. maybe a few months before) I dated guys who I may not have dated if I had never met skip. I didn't have much of a self esteem and didn't feel that I deserved to be treated well or date the "good" guys. I am still friends with some of those boys so I don't want to say too many mean things but they were as respectable as I thought I was. If I did get asked out by someone who, if they knew the real me, would be repulsed, I was uncomfortable and found ways to make sure our first date was our last. I think I was lucky because Jed was in my same school and, out of respect for him, the boys thought twice about how they treated me. Otherwise, I could have been in trouble. There was one boy of whom I thought the world and with whom I had a lot of fun. We had a lot in common like our love of old movies and jumping off our deck onto the trampoline. Okay, really he ripped his hand open doing that but we had fun at the Emergency Room. But I put the brakes on that before he could see what I was really like.
About a year later I met a boy with whom I fell breathlessly in love. He was leaving for his mission in two months time so there was little chance of my big secret coming out. Also, I had some serious trust issues so a long term relationship was more than I ever thought possible. But two months I could handle and he was one of the "good ones" We both threw ourselves into the relationship with all of our hearts. It was the kind of thing where he would leave his car open because he was in such a hurry to get to my door and I even tagged along to his college class with him because we didn't want to be apart. I promised I would wait for him and we even picked a wedding date for shortly after he got back.
When he left and all we could do was write, my secret was still safe and the relationship was still safe for me to be in.
But when he got home it all fell apart. Suddenly things were real. My subconsious stopped me from giving it my all. I thought was a horrible person and men were the enemy so the relationship stood no chance. I started pulling away and playing games, secretly hoping that he would put up a fight for us but with the way I was acting, he probably didn't dare put himself out there. Every time he didn't react like I wanted, I lost a little more trust in him and our chances. I even left for San Antonio for a month or so just to prove a point. I don't know what that point was but I felt it necessary to prove it. When he didn't even call me and failed to acknowledge my birthday, I knew it was over. Oh I didn't want it to be. I was desperately in love with him but at the same time felt that I had already had an affair, was damaged goods and therefor undeserving of him. We gave it a half- hearted try after that but deep down I knew it could never work because I was so messed up that I honestly felt that I was not worthy of a good, healthy relationship.
Contrast that with how my relationship came to be with Robert. I had been through the court system, therapy, and at least one healthy relationship. When I met him I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. Unfortunately, so did my good friend. I was still under confident and she was, well all the guys seemed to like her. So I got to see how he treated her. And many girls after that. He was never alone for long before some girl would come after him. He was rarely the instigator but there always seemed to be plenty of girls vying for his attention. He treated them all nicely and was very honest and respectful of them but was choosy about with whom he spent his time. He considered me a good friend-one of the guys. I used to be included in conversations about his ex-true love, what he wanted in life, how school was going, why or why he didn't like certain girls etc. I also saw how he treated his family, as well as others. I saw the way he lived his religion, how he viewed the world, his honesty, his humor, as well as many other traits I grew to love. We saw each other often the first few months and then nearly every day for nearly two years. I got to see more than I would if we were dating and we were both putting our best feet forward.
After a year or so I realized how important he was to me and told him that I thought of him romantically, He let me know that he just didn't feel the same way. He was honest, respectful, and kind. I was hurt, yes, but I was also totally impressed by his actions!
It was only a few months later that I started spending time with a different guy. We had even talked about a future together. But I was still hanging out with Robert, fully understanding that we we would always be just friends. Then one Sunday night (June 13th to be exact) we were just watching T.V. when we kissed. After that there was no thought of the other guy (sorry Justin). Robert and I were inseparable. He knew all about me, even some things I wish he didn't, like my secretly liking Barry Manilow, and he never questioned my worthiness or my truthfulness. He hated what had been done TO me and was not shy about it. Whenever I would have a moment of self doubt, he would put up just enough of a fight for us to let me know he was 100% in this with me. I wasn't afraid to love him with my all because I already knew his character. It was a foregone conclusion that we would get hitched and I had my dress and veil even before we got engaged. In the last 17 years, his love for me has never faltered. Even when I was dead set on his divorcing me after the stroke, (it would have been so much easier for him) he just wouldn't. My room faced the elevators and around 5 that evening, a huge bouquet with legs got off the elevator and walked into my room. he kissed me and said, "I can handle anything but DON'T YOU EVER LEAVE ME!" There is a song by Sheryl Crow called "Are you strong enough to be my man?" Robert is the only man I have ever met who is.