I was never much of a romantic before and I did not expect to find genuine love but since embarking on a relationship, those ideals I dismissed as the only cliche turned out not to be so sappy after all.

1. Love Heals

https://www.pexels.com/photo/low-section-of-man-against-sky-247851/

After a few years of chronic unhappiness, my guy only wanted to make me happy. Even as best friends, I could tell that I was healing. I knew that the wounds caused by rejection, manipulation, and a traumatic move were getting infected and that this infection was causing me to become bitter and toxic. I thought I'd lost the sweet thing I used to be. I prayed for a cure, even made a pilgrimage to heal. Who knew that would come in the form of a best friend?

My guy is the first to try making me laugh without being obnoxious or literally in my face about it. The rocky layer eventually melted right off my heart as the things that used to give me joy started to give me joy again, without the cloud of scrupulous guilt and I began to show my true colors rather than being on-guard all the time.

2. In Love With Your Best Friend

Two drifters, off to see the world

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-standing-on-hanging-bridge-1132155/

That Jason Mraz song is right. Maybe this isn't the case for all people, but starting off as good, close friends allowed my guy and me to build up trust in each other and to learn more about each other.

As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "It is not a lack of love but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."

3. Be Yourself, Inner Beauty Matters More

https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-holding-her-waist-while-facing-mirror-1841220/

My former impression of winning a guy over was that you must look pretty. I know that doesn't matter above all. It's common knowledge that outer beauty fades with age. However, I know that a man's mind is wired to spot the looks first. Being formally uninterested, (especially with the impression that most men may only go for the superficial, crush on me for looks then ditch me because of any personality shortcomings), I always kept my looks simple. I was never the kind of girl to doll up to impress a guy...okay, maybe once or twice.

Anyhow, my best friend turned boyfriend has different mental wiring. He calls me beautiful every day, meaning both on the inside and out. What caused him to fall for me was, in his words, my "heart of gold". Once, I tried to dull my compassion in order not to be taken advantage of for my altruistic tendencies but he spotted a glimmer of gold covered by that layer of hard clay. I was a good listener, he said. I made him feel wanted and appreciated. I looked after his health by recommending supplements to boost his immune system and sympathized with him whenever he told me off his losses and the darker times of his life.

I was also surprised to hear that he'd never received a thank-you card (one event leading to acknowledge his feelings) and that girls in the past were not so kind to him when times were rough...and I always assumed that showing that I was thankful and being there for a friend, especially your boyfriend, was normal and common. This man loved my simplicity, said that other girls who spend so much time on their makeup cannot top me in looks. To me, it's flattering. But he means it wholeheartedly and I'm amazed at Inner Beauty's merit.

4. Mentally Synched

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-red-long-sleeved-shirt-853151/

Both my beau and I are artists, writers, and content creators. We bonded over collaboration. I'm usually not one to easily welcome collaboration since that often leads to fights over creative differences. With us, it was different.

He would suggest something, like a graphic novel premise, and I would elaborate on it, providing ideas for the character design and plot that he likes. It isn't uncommon for us to have the same ideas. For instance, we're going to a dance this spring and we both had Victorian-style garb in mind. We have since decided to dress up in era garb (won't we be a sight). We are sources of inspiration for each other.

5. Opposites Attract

https://www.pexels.com/photo/2-hands-holding-1-jigsaw-puzzle-piece-each-164531/

Balance is an essential part of making a relationship work. It is true that birds of a feather flock together. He and I share much in common, from our art to the quest for inner peace and stability. He also has many traits that I don't have and vice versa. He would forget his head if it wasn't attached to his neck. Forget is the one thing I can't do (episodically speaking) so I'm there to make sure he remembers the things he needs.

He is outgoing and doesn't care what others think, no shame at all for his antics. I've had a history of being self-conscious and he's trying to break me free of that. At the same time, I'm there to make sure he knows his limits and doesn't take a prank or potty joke too far.

We tolerate each other, in the sense that we put up with each other's flaws and quirks and we complete each other by having what the other needs.