It was my freshman year of college. I enjoyed newfound freedom, which mostly consisted of late-night trips to Steak & Shake with my new circle of friends. On the surface, my new life in university was flourishing, but in the depths of my soul, I sensed something integral to my well-being was muted, or missing.

My growing sense of this lack followed a series of heartbreaks in my teenage years. At the time, I wouldn’t have told you that I had been in love. I never had a boyfriend. I had never been interested in many boys. My attention was devoted to my close female friendships. At first, I didn’t recognize the strong emotions and desires I felt for my best friend as out of the ordinary. Then, one evening my senior year of high school, we sat on the beach alone and I finally expressed my desire for romantic intimacy, which was not reciprocated. I left feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and I hoped that no one would find out about my momentary candor.