I like him, but I’m not ready to date

There’s a time for everything

I like him, but I’m not ready to date

I never liked a boy until I met Nonso. I could tell he was different right away. He didn’t walk in a group like the other boys in our neighbourhood. He carried himself well—whether alone or with friends. I hardly heard him raise his voice. Plus, he was super cute too.

One day, my neighbour told me a boy on our street tried to harass her. Nonso warned him never to hurt her or any other girl. As he spoke, something soft and warm swelled in my stomach. It was then I realised I liked him.

Since I’d never liked a boy before, I didn’t know what to do. I had no one to confide in. So I decided to avoid Nonso. After all, he didn’t even know me. How could he possibly care about me, right?

Then I had the biggest shock of my life. My neighbour said Nonso had been bugging her about me for ages! He wanted to know if I was interested in being friends. She confessed that she’d told me about him just to find out if I liked him. I couldn’t believe it.

Anyway, she introduced us and we got talking. It felt as if we’d known each other for ages. We both loved weird stuff like the smell of the soil after rain. He had a great sense of humour, so I never got sick of being around him. But you know what really got me? The Naija Music mixtape he made for me! It was the best gift I’d ever received.

Our friendship meant a lot to me, especially as I wasn’t ready to date. Some of my mates were already dating and all, but it sounded stressful and scary. I wanted to get to know myself first before committing to anyone. I thought Nonso felt the same way. So when he asked me out, I was completely floored.

I didn’t want to turn him down for fear of ruining our friendship. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. On the other hand, I didn’t want to date him or anyone else. Not yet anyway.

In the end, I told Nonso that I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. I explained that I wanted to take my time with no pressure. I made it clear I didn’t want to date just because everyone else was dating. Nonso was cool with it. He said he respected my decision and we could carry on as friends. If his feelings were hurt, he hid it well.

Afterwards, things went back to normal. Nonso never brought up the topic of dating again, which made me respect him even more. The experience taught me that I’m stronger than I ever knew. I stood my ground and so can you.

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