I am a romantic. A hopeless romantic.

I have daydreams of a “white knight” and grand gestures that rival an ABC Family movie or Nicolas Spark books. But growing up, with all of the romance I hoped for, I never dreamed of marriage. I didn’t plan a wedding like many little girls and as I grew older I often said, “I am not sure it is in my future.”

I did hope to fall in love though.
I have clocked many hours talking to my mom and sister about this notion. “If only I could just fall in love that is the only thing I need.” As I went on dates and had insignificant relationships, it wasn’t right. They were passing fancies and didn’t last very long. My mom and sister told me not to pray and wish for that… falling in love can lead to heartache if it doesn’t work out. Protect your heart, they said.

Everything changed a year ago. In a whim I met someone and I knew I wouldn’t be the same. I fought it for as long as I could but fighting those feelings lasted mere weeks. Someone entered my life that was significant and opened my eyes to not just falling in love but to a future.

When it didn’t work out I finally understood the meaning of heartache. But in those nights of fretful sleep, in the moments of tears, in the quiet hours of mourning… a new feeling emerged.

I learned what it meant to be loved and to love in return.

I learned what a man should act like and to not settle for anything less than this new standard.

I learned too that heartache can be beautiful. It tells me that I was vulnerable when I am often closed off. And it brought in a support group of friends who never once told me what to do but just let me mourn.

I am so grateful that feeling this level of love did not happen at 16 or even 23. I wasn’t ready nor was I open. Growing up in a Christian community many of my friends married young and I love that that is their story. But it wasn’t mine and I was okay with that.

Single Girls:
Protect your heart. I cannot agree with that advice more. A first love is not a right of passage and should only be given with to someone that deserves it because that person plays a significant role in your life. I am so glad that I did not experience that until last year and it was with someone who was kind and generous. It is just a feeling; butterflies in your stomach and a tug at your heart, but it impacts you. And those feelings need to be earned, not given away on the whim.

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