I was always that girl, pining away in a corner wondering if the guy I loved would ever love me back in return. While friends easily flirted their way into guy’s affections I was awkward and found it hard to be around guys that I liked. I was that girl with a best friend who was dating the guy I liked, for a year I was trapped in someone else’s shadow and with every kiss that I saw my heart shrunk a little more. I was that girl who would write poems and stories, blessing each word with a memory of a lost love. I was always so shy growing up, choosing not to tell guys when I liked them because they were always the wrong guys, they were too popular, too perfect, too good looking for me. At least that is what my inner demons used to say to me and the bullies certainly agreed, taunting me because my hair was too curly, my skin too dark, I was an ‘ugly changeling’ they said. I suppose that if I was to counsel myself I would say that the reason I was so afraid to tell people how I feel was because all my life I had been rejected and I didn’t want to add what I thought were more personal failures to my list. I was never popular per say with guys, I wasn’t bland enough and definitely not considered cool. I never tried to pretend that I was someone I was not and yet at times I thought I was playing the part of another person, who was more confident and more attractive than I knew myself to be. Except that masquerade always came crashing down and the more I was put down the worse I felt about myself. The first true crush I had was in Year Seven, a popular good looking guy who all the girls were after. He was nice to me and for one foolish moment I thought that he might like me back. I was wrong of course and as I plucked up the courage to tell him he burned me badly. He told me that he only spoke to me because I was smart and thus he could copy test answers off me, he only made conversation with me so he could get with my more attractive busty friends and to add further insult to the injury he stated that he would not touch me with an 8ft barge pool because I was the most ugly girl he had ever seen. I was heartbroken and as I started crying my so called friends started chanting that I was a ‘crybaby’ and that I ‘looked even uglier when I cried’. That was not even the worst of it, kids would heckle me in the class because I had the audacity to like someone who was clearly out of my league and delightedly told me that there was no one in my league because I was at the bottom of the table.Since then I kept my mouth shut and never told people about who I liked because I was scared I would get humiliated again. Throughout the years I went out with guys who would use me and because I knew no better I naively thought that was the norm. I have never known love in its truest form and I have never been in love. I have been treated like s**t time and time again that when it came to uni I had enough and didn’t want anything more to do with men romantically. So I took a vacation from dating and while I have liked people over the years again I never told them because I didn’t want to receive an answer that would make my heart break. I remember in year 9 I was in love with another popular guy; tall, blonde and comedic he was my type in a nutshell. One day in a game of truth or dare it slipped out to my two closest friends at the time that I liked this guy but as soon as I realized my mistake I begged them not to say anything. Of course they told everyone and all my so called friends dragged me to his table and proceeded to make a song and dance about how much I liked him. When they asked him if he liked me he replied ‘no why would I she isn’t even popular’? It reminded me that in my school we should all know our place and when it came to dating I should stick to people who were in my ‘dating pool’ and not engage with a more popular, exclusive society. In Sixth Form another popular guy caught my attention; over the years I became more attracted to brunettes than blondes and he was tall, dark and handsome. Except he was also a complete arsehole and loved nothing better than calling me names and stalking my every move. I hated him at first but then a friend of mine told me that he liked me and of course the seed had planted. Suddenly despite his dickish ways I had fallen for him and as much as I hated myself for it I couldn’t help but feel infatuated. He was in my every waking thoughts and his poisonous words were like a drug to my senses. It was intoxicating and heady yet I hated myself for liking someone who A. clearly didn’t like me back and B. for liking someone out of my league. Except what is the definition of a league, how could I know who I could and couldn’t date when the boundaries were so unclear? Now I like someone a lot and I don’t know what to do because I am scared I will get hurt again.I resisted the pull of the dating cult for so long, convincing myself that I would be happier on my own but secretly I yearned to know what real love felt like. What it felt like to have someone beside you who would do anything for you. They would bring you food when you are sick and treat you like a princess. They would make you laugh and you would cry together; you would be each other companions until the end of time. I see all these couples loved up and happy and sometimes I wish I was that girl who knew how to love. Is it sad that at 22 I have never been in love but had been in love with the idea of loving someone? I don’t know. Have you ever been in love with someone who didn’t love you back?