Despite wanting to just marry early, there’s a little story behind the real reasoning of why I avoided dating men altogether. You see, just like everyone else, I have crushes, fall in love, and have high expectation of men in general, and just like everyone else, I used to have boyfriends.

As in plural.

Number will remain classified.

All in different times, all happened without enough consideration, only driven by the need of being just like everybody else at school. At the time, having a relationship makes you known, people pay attention to the things you and your couple do, and therefore grant the popularity that normal school girl typically craves.

I started at elementary and stopped at junior. I still remember the names of who I actually cared about and who I dated simply for fun. I remember the one boy that I asked out for the first time and the boy who made it to two years with me. I remember the one that was just too much and the one that barely spoke at all. Despite them all, I remember the first love that I didn’t get to date and the guy who had the fortune to become my last.

It was fun, every bit of the experience. If you judge, I’ll say I didn’t understand what love was back then. I’ll say I was a kid, not knowing anything about what was right and wrong.

Then one day, a teacher sat me down. At the time, I definitely did gone too far and irritated everyone. She must have thought about putting an intervention to my improper childish behavior and said as softly as she could, “If you truly love your boyfriend, don’t you want him far away from sin and hell?”

I remember that specific moment all too clearly in my head.  I was sat down in her office with gobsmacked face and heart scrunching up with nasty feeling. It was scary how a simple sentence could slap some sense to my happy ending fantasy. To my eleven year old self, love was supposed to be hearts, chocolates, and surprising love notes. At least that was how I did my relationship, with shy glances and surprises hidden in the locker.

What she said in that definitive moment erased all those thoughts away in an instant, and I was pretty surprised at how my stubborn-self chose to accept the thought that fast.

Isn’t that the right kind of love? The love that protects the one you love from His hell? My subconscious said.

It might not be how I saw love then, but that was definitely how I wanted to be loved, even at the time. I remember the blurry things that happened right after. It was during the night when I decided the break up. It was in the afternoon when I wrote the break up note, being too much of a coward to slap the truth myself. It was the day after that I finally decided I needed to speak with my ex directly.

“So?” I asked him nervously, trying to project as much as guilt as possible. I was desperate for him to understand my reasoning. I wanted him to see that I did it because I cared.

‘I want us to break up. I don’t want you to sin any further because of me,’ was written in the note I gave him the day before.

He avoided my eyes altogether, “Well, sure.”

I’m really sorry.

“Are you really?” I considered one last something as a departing gift.

“Sorry, I need to go the bathroom,” he excused himself.

“Oh, alright.”

When he came back to the classroom, they said he was in tears.

After that, I stopped. He was my last boyfriend and I never had any other relationship after that. I remained distant, spoke against any confession, and prevented myself from falling in love altogether for the sake of not dealing with heartache. It’s been four years since my last official relationship, and it’s been four years since I last fall in love—as much as an eleven year old kid could fall in love, of course.

All in all, it was a good learning experience to me—at least until the days come when I hate myself with all being and just glare at that girl in the mirror. Damn you for holding onto such principal, I swear at my reflection as tears rolled down. I could have been with him if it wasn’t for you, I growled childishly in frustration to the red-eyed girl.

Those days eventually pass, especially when the thought of ‘good men think alike, and therefore these boys who don’t get it are not worth it’ appears. Then the tears, sobbing, and frustration disappear as a smile forcefully make its way back to the scowling, ugly, scrunched up face.

And now my view of a good man is the kind that doesn’t give a damn about hearts, chocolates, and surprising love notes before he can muster up the courage to speak up to my parent about asking for my hand. My whole definition of love changed right then and there, and it never changed again ever since.

That’s how it’s done properly, boys. Pay attention.