I have a diary that is perhaps eleven or twelve years old, and in this, I wrote about my latest crushes. None of them spoke about me, in general, but about other people. Most were about who rejected me, and how fat I was (and thought that was the reason).

I wrote about love more than I wrote about anything else, even myself.

Every line had a different name, a different story - a different context. It was like I was desperate to live an adventure, to experience what it was like to fall in love, to be in love.

Someone noticed me, for once. We danced with an old Britney Spears song ringing in our ears meanwhile everyone watched. It was like we had the entire gym to ourselves - at least, that's what it felt like. Some parents admired us in awe, and others had the guts to ask other people to join us.

I remember what I wore. Mother used to buy me a set, consisting of a matching top and skirt. It was a dye - I had one set in pink, and one set in different colours of blue. Confortable and stylish - almost like it was a Halloween costume, now that I think about it.

Nevertheless, I rocked that blue dye and made sure my short brown hair was looking perfect. I don't remember what he wore, nor what he looked like. I just remember his treat was a bag of Doritos from the small cafeteria, and he left with his head down. I still, to this day, can't tell if it was sheer embarassment or he was just being shy. His friends followed him everywhere like glue, I suppose it couldn't be possibly any good when they snickered at his every move.

We obviously did not last more than a month; without kissing and holding hands. We did nothing, and had no idea what love was.

When I began high schol, I was dating another guy who was a little older than me. Of course, I expect maturity and social experience to raise - lowering my chances of suffering and rejection.

Ha, I was wrong. He cheated on me, twice.

I then met this other guy through the Internet. Actually, he found me. I can't recall how our conversation began, but we hit it off pretty well. And we met, and things were working just fine under one condition - keeping it a secret.

I didn't understand the meaning of this relationship until the word got out at my school. Girls didn't believe me, and decided to make fun of me because I wasn't worthy of dating guys - yet alone, someone as popular as him.

Needless to say, his friends thought the same thing - I wasn't as desirable as I should have been for his type. And, obviously, that did not last very long either, and I'm willing to bet anything it was all due to social pressure on his end. He left me, of course.

Then I dated a former friend, and I called the shots - he was too kind to me. I wanted to feel as good as he treated me ; with respect. And I was right, he did no harm. However, I haven't felt the spark I felt with my other partner. It was like I was forcing something I didn't want. Then the thought of losing this friendship ran in my mind, and I started to build up anxiety.

Once you date a friend, he never returns as your friend. Or so, that was what I was told.

I gradually forgot the reason we called it quits - I tend to push aside what hurts and what's not important to me as a reflex. I think it's because I wasn't taken seriously, or maybe it was because I was too scared. Either way, that didn't last either.

A year later, I dated another person who was in the same school as me. A little older, but mature and smart like I've always wanted. He was always there for me, and we truly hit it off a while back. We were friends too, but never close enough to realize how well we connected. I then began to have an anxious thought running in mind, the part where you realize your friends and your boyfriend can't be together at once. Not that he couldn't meet them, and vice-versa, but it was more about managing my time properly in order to spend time with him AND my friends.

It started to become overwhelming, and my phone couldn't stop buzzing. I felt a constant need to be there, to answer or I would lose him - eventually. And then I realized I was also on the edge of losing my friends, who felt like they weren't as important as they should be.

And I had to make a crucial decision between the boyfriend I wouldn't know if I would marry, and the friends who would be with me for the next three years of my teenage life. And I did, I had to let go.

I was also dealing with very difficult things back then, and I didn't feel like my partner was ready to deal with the stress and worries this may have caused me.

About a year later, I dated a guy who happened to be a very athletic and open-minded person. Or so, I thought. My good friend was supportive of us, and she would accompany me to the movies (with him, I should add) and to other activities. I wanted her company, but I also wanted her approval. She warned me about something, and I was already head-over-heels for him. I couldn't believe her.

When we dated, I learned about my feminity and for the first time, accepted for who I was. I have admitted a secret to him, a secret that made me insecure - and he accepted me anyway.

We were doing fine, and then I noticed a strange pattern going over and over again. I would notice the way he would talk about his female best friend, and would always let me know where he had sex with his past girlfriends. As if it was man-like to do so, a big proud challenge accomplished ; as if it was something to be impressed with.

I wasn't.

When he came to graduate, he wanted my approval to go with his best friend and not me. I accepted, given the fact I understood our relationship has not been long enough to be in pictures yet (I didn't feel ready), and because I would rather have a picture of a friend than an ex in my album.

Then, he would come up with another story. Then, another one. And another one. It simply never stopped. I then realized his goal - the purpose was to create a love triangle between me and his best friend, so we would have to fight for him.

Given the fact I wasn't interested to have this kind of strange, meaningless confrontation - I left. Why would I ever do such a thing, I'm not here for a fight. I'm here to be loved and accepted as a human being.

I haven't been able to date a guy for two or three years, and it wasn't because I didn't want to. It was because I was afraid of the committment it would require, and the sacrifices I would have made for someone who wasn't entirely ready to be with me. I had developped trust issues, but nothing would beat my most recent relationships.

I'm still not confortable to this day to discuss about the longest relationship I had in my entire life so far, but I can talk about the relationship I had afterwards.

I met this guy at a store. I literally came to his counter, and asked for his number. I was encouraged by my mother to do it, and I've never felt more empowered than this very moment. And he gave it to me.

We hit it off very well.

On our first date, he warned me not to wear very chic dresses like I did (though it was a plain, navy blue dress) and I could have just worn a pair of shorts and tee-shirt. I should have told him off on it, but I was too happy to move past what has happened to me a few months ago.

I talked about my past, about me - and he listened. I was hoping that explaining previous challenges would have spared me of potential risks that would involve pain in this new relationship.

Boy, was I wrong.

I found the pictures he liked on an app from the moment we dated. Girls wearing bras and panties, or being literally naked. Not that I had a problem with women showing off their bodies - they are allowed to do what they want with it. It's their property, their temple.
I had a problem with the fact that was the kind of thing he did, knowing I didn't have an account. I wanted to talk about it, and make him understand I wasn't on board with this. He couldn't clarify why he did it, he had no excuses. He was sorry, and that was all he had to say.

After two weeks, I realized I spoke to a wall. Because he hadn't stopped.

I quickly understood I was in a relationship with someone who wanted to have his first real experience of a relationship, and not let go of his own habits. I was with someone who didn't respect me entirely. And my anxiety raised again - what if all he wanted from me was just a body, and brainless chick?

I left, too.

I haven't dated a guy since, and it doesn't matter anymore.

I realized I have been seeking for a partner for years, and despite my awful experiences - I have understood my truth. I'm a beautiful, curvy and healthy straight woman. I am a woman who has standards, and doesn't believe in second chances. I am a woman who's seen the dirtiest, darkest side of people and still believes in true love.

I have been seeking for someone to love me, and to teach me how to love myself.

My dear, beautiful hearters... If you have made it to this paragraph, I wish you to love yourselves. No one will do it for you. Trust me, no guy has learned to respect, love and treat me right - like I did. And it doesn't matter how old your partner is. If you don't teach yourself that you are worth everything, and that you deserve to be treated as a rational human being - who will?

Learn from my mistakes, and don't let yourself go down because you don't have a partner and don't live things like you've seen in every possible movie you've watched.

Your partner does not define you, and will never be your second half. You are a whole, and your partner is another whole. You simply are two entities in constant interaction. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Don't let it affect you, and never let it kill you.

It took me a lot of time to realize this, and I hope I spared you ten years of heart aches and misery for a stable, healthy relationship.

I love you, and so should you.

Em x