Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to be in a relationship. I know that sounds dark, but we’ve all been there. We feel like we’re too broken, mean or ugly for companionship. The idea of affection and intimacy scares us, and we feel like things would be better off if we were alone forever. Even though I’m in a relationship, my mind tricks me into believing that my girlfriend is too good for me — that she should be with someone better.

These thoughts are wrong.

A week after my girlfriend and I started dating, I cried in front of her for the first time. I started crying because she said that she likes me for who I am, and I cried even harder when I told her that I wasn’t as perfect as she thought I was. I felt too small and inadequate for someone with sunshine in her eyes and vigor in her heart.

She held me, told me that I’m good enough and made me laugh when I was at my lowest. She made me feel like I deserved to have her in my life.

Months ago, I endured these same pains by myself with no one there for me. Many of us suffer through days where our greatest fears come true and we hardly recognize the person we see in the mirror. We isolate ourselves and turn away from friends and family so that we don’t become a burden.

You deserve better than that, and so do I.

We deserve to be held, loved and cared for. Something I’ve noticed about people like me — people who care for others and slip away when we need the same — is that we want to be seen as strong and independent. We want to show others that we can handle our emotions by ourselves. Our worst fear is pushing someone away with our sadness.

We deserve someone who won’t be scared away because of our emotions. Relationships should be built on trust and reciprocity so that both people can ask for help when they’re feeling down. I should feel comfortable going to my girlfriend and asking for emotional support, and I shouldn’t be afraid that she will turn me away because I’m burdening her.

We deserve a happy, healthy romantic relationship. My girlfriend first cried in front of me because of a scary movie, not feelings of inadequacy. However, when I wrapped my arms around her and drank tea with her on her kitchen floor, I felt like I was taking care of her in the best way I knew how.

Now I know I deserve this relationship because we take care of each other. She cooks food for me when I don’t eat enough, and I give her hugs when she’s feeling down. We show each other affection and listen to each other. We grow together.

You and I deserve relationships. We are allowed to have strong negative emotions and express them to our romantic partners. We can be sad and tell people about it. As someone who is sensitive, I deserve someone who speaks softly to me. We deserve to be in a healthy relationship.