When I was 20, I stopped going on dates because my first relationship was so toxic, it broke me. To save myself from future disappointment and minimize the chances of getting attached to any one person, I joined hookup culture.

For two years, I watched my friends with benefits fall in love with other girls. And I wondered why none of them ever loved me.

When I chose this lifestyle, I wasn't seeking a relationship—clearly. I wasn't completely closed off to the idea, despite my lingering heartache, but it wasn't something I initially desired. That also meant I didn't anticipate any of my FWBs wanting relationships either, much less falling in love. (Since when do f*ckboys try to tie themselves down?) Regardless, I envied the girls who singlehandedly convinced each of them to abandon a lifestyle they previously so desired, while wondering what it was about me that couldn't entice them to do the same.

To be quite honest, all of these relationships exceeded my expectations in their beginnings. Over time, I watched these boys truly love and fall in love with their girls. But alas, nothing is perfect and everyone is toxic in their own way. These relationships, like so many others, had their highs and almost equally as many lows, which only continued to make me wonder what about these girls was so worth the emotional scarring. It broke my heart that they found respite in someone and something so lackluster.

Unfortunately, I understood. I still do. We're hosts to an undying vice that acknowledges the necessity of escape, but simultaneously convinces us there isn't the possibility of one. I understood this so deeply, and the familiarity of their situations only wrung my heart.

Despite caring for a couple of these boys more than I cared for the others, I was never in love with any of them. Perhaps that's one of the reasons they couldn't love me. Regardless, it means my intent was never to replace any of the girls. It was simply to understand what it was about them and their somewhat f*cked up relationships that outshone me. Curiosity really did kill the cat.

Don't be mistaken—I have loved, and I've also been loved before. So it's not that I think I'm unworthy. But as I continued to learn more about these far-from-perfect relationships, I wanted answers. I was, and sometimes still am, suspended in turmoil, harboring a genuine curiosity for where these boys found fault in me and why they couldn't look past those flaws.

Today's nature would lead me to believe I just wasn't pretty enough for them. Or maybe I tried too hard or cared too much. Whatever the case, it doesn't matter because in some way, shape, or form, I just wasn't enough for any of those boys. And that's fine. Truly. You can't win 'em all, but after all the time we invested in each other, I just wanted to know why I wasn't any of their first choices.

Despite it all, whether or not their relationships at the time are still currently active, I'm at ease knowing they are capable of love. It's silly, but considering their undying habits, it's true. And I hope that one day, they find girls who will encourage them to leave those habits behind for good.

I never needed any of my friends with benefits to love me. I simply wanted to know why, after everything we'd been through, they didn't.