This is my story. It involves a girl and 3 boys. It’s a story that involves innocence, rebellion, danger, charm, betrayal, maturation, infatuation, lust, pain, heartbreak, friendship, pursuit, love, perseverance, acceptance and beauty.

Before I met boy #1, I was a naïve, homeschooled, God-pursuing little girl. The day before I met boy #1 I recorded in my journal that I was “more in love with God than ever.” However, I understand how I was an easy target for what happened next.

I had allowed myself to indulge in romantic comedy-esque emotional fantasies. I was hungering for a “real life” experience. I felt I needed a boyfriend. Enter boy #1, he was funny, deceptively charming, and shadily outgoing. Your typical “jock.” I had known guys like him, but they were always unattainable to socially awkward girls like me.

I thought nothing of our first encounter, until I received my first text message. Most people knew of boy #1 and his perversions, and tried to persuade me not to date him. Although naïve and innocent, I also had an intense stubbornness that pushed me closer to boy #1 as the comments kept coming. I even disregarded my sister and parents when they cautioned me against him. I did everything I wanted to do, and dated this boy.

Sadly, I wasted my first kiss on a pathological liar. I betrayed my parents and sought love and affection from a boy who had the worst intentions. I praise God I only dated him for a matter of weeks, but the consequences last far beyond the relationship. I took a long time to think about dating after that.

The next fall, I met boy #2. He was “the jock” too, but I knew there was something different. He was kind and straightforward, liked by many people. I was obviously interested. We spent way too much time together which developed into a false intimacy.

I envisioned marrying this boy. I thought it was “happily ever after.” The fairy tale ended too soon though, because I had pursued him before he was over his ex-girlfriend.  This boy became my best friend which was the worst part about breaking up with him. After a bitterly emotional break-up my trust in men was shattered.

Finally we arrive at guy #3. We had been friends for three years. He had actually asked me on a few dates the first year we knew each other. I went on them, but sparks didn’t fly on either end. Little did I realize the role he would play in my life.

He is not “the jock,” and yet, to my surprise was a basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis champ. While I was pursuing the first two, he was pursuing other women. Guy #3 had broken up with his girlfriend right before boy #2 and I broke up. Guy #3 was obviously interested. In an English town during Ambex, he professed his “like.”

I agreed that he was pretty great, but I said we could only be friends. He followed me around the British Isles; I tried to lose him. When we got back to the states, I realized he might actually stick around. He even decided to come out and visit me and my family before we dated. I required that he be a spiritual leader, ask my dad’s permission to date me and set up physical boundaries. Through long phone calls because of distances, he decided to meet these requirements in his pursuit of me.

My heart was still broken from #2, but #3 helped heal the wounds. He restored my confidence in men, and confidence in myself. Because he was willing to take it slow, I was able to become his friend first. He declared his love for me before we officially dated, before I was ready to say it. However, when I did say it, I knew with all my heart and mind that I loved him.

Claire Richter and boy #3, also known as Andrew Tennant.

Guy #3 is a special man; he has helped me see the beauty in myself I didn’t know was there. His pursuit of me showed his perseverance, which to me is the most attractive quality in a man. His acceptance of me helped to solidify in my mind my beauty.

Mostly, his friendship is a constant reminder that being patient and waiting for God’s timing is the only successful way to do a relationship. Even with guy #3 being as great as he is, relationships take a lot of work. He was patient with me, and I had to remember to be patient with him. Seeking strength, wisdom and patience that comes from God is the only way to be selfless enough, vulnerable enough and discerning enough to date someone.