When I got asked to “go out” with my first boyfriend in sixth grade I was ecstatic. I had never had a close friend that was a boy and it made me feel really cool and grown up. Our mom’s would drop us off at each other’s house to hang out, we talked on the phone every night. We called each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” but at our age he was really simply my best friend.
We spent a lot of time together and after enough trust had built up, I let him in about my family problems—the first boy I had ever opened up to on such a personal level. He listened intently and cared about what I had to say. He was always on my side and did his best to be there for me in whatever way possible. Even when we parted ways for a time in high school, we still shared a special bond and both knew the other could be trusted with what we had told each other.
As I moved on to other relationships in high school and college, I assumed those guys could be trusted in the same way. I let people in far too quickly, not fully grasping how much of myself I was sharing with boys I barely knew. I had yet to learn that not every guy is worthy of my trust. That there are going to be men who will abuse it, and that I need to be careful about who to share those personal areas of my life with and when.
One guy in high school assumed because we were talking about such deep things and getting close emotionally, that that meant we needed to get close physically as well—despite his knowledge that I didn’t want to. He used my vulnerability to justify trying to take things too far. I broke up with him just days later.
I started seeing another guy in my early twenties. It took only two weeks and I had let him in about some of the darkest parts of my history, including my struggle to overcome my eating disorder. He ended things only days later without giving me a reason. I couldn’t help but feel stupid for letting him in so deep, so fast.
I could go on with a couple more examples, but the point is that there are guys out there to this day walking around with intimate, personal knowledge about me, my family, and some of my own personal demons. Guys who I thought at the time were deserving of that information, but who really weren’t that invested in me or my story. Guys who were in my life for incredibly short seasons, and then walked out never to be seen again.
I’ve since learned to take things a little slower and to share myself with men who have shown themselves to be trustworthy. People like that boy from sixth grade, who cherish and protect the information I’ve entrusted them with. People who understand the seriousness of being let into my life in such a vulnerable way, and who have shown me that they will be there for me.
I wish I hadn’t given away so much of myself emotionally to other guys, but what I learned from those mistakes has made genuine commitment and trust in a relationship mean that much more. And that boy from sixth grade recently proposed to me, showing me in the most meaningful and beautiful way that my trust was not misplaced with him.