Ask a Bougie Chick: The Case of the No Cocoa Friend Zone

In today's episode of Ask a Bougie Chick, a young lady writes in for our collective help, review, reflection and advice. (I did shorten content and correct spelling) Let's take a look...
Hi Michele, 
A FB friend recommended your blog a couple of months ago and I've been a fan every since that day! lol I love the advice you give to the readers and I wanted to get your opinion about a couple of dilemmas I have from someone other than my closest friends and family. So here goes me being transparent and somewhat vulnerable.... 
1) I'm a single female in her early 30s who hasn't found love yet...EVER. No, seriously...I've never been in a relationship, never had a boyfriend, no first date, no first kiss, and obviously no cocoa....NADA!!!!! So, I guess you can imagine my self-esteem has been below the ground and all the way underneath to China (well, we know geographically that isn't true but I think you get my point). All this time I keep thinking there has to be something utterly wrong with me, for no one not even the crazies to even approach me. [sic] So, I guess my question to you is how do I open myself, my heart and my activities to be in the right position for finding love? I already know that because of my relationship inexperience I have to be extra careful because some dudes will take advantage of me. This is why I know that whoever is the one for me will have to be someone really special to not only understand that I'm not crazy for never experiencing things as everyone else, but will most importantly see me as a special treasure because of it. Thoughts? 
Which leads me to my 2nd dilemma....in your words...le sigh 
2) I have a male friend who we'll call "Thomas". I've known Thomas for 3+ years and we've worked together for a good portion of those years. At first I was sooooooo (with an extra "o" for emphasis) not attracted to him. In fact I had my eye on someone else so I wasn't really interested at all. Honestly I thought he was too skinny that if I did share the cocoa with him I would break him in half...just keeping it real. Anywhoo, Thomas helped me through a really painful loss of a loved one with words of encouragement and as a result we became close friends instead of just associates. Even then I didn't fall prey to him being my "Superman" who is a guy just being nice but the woman thinks he's the "one". I took his friendship for just that - a really good friend supporting another good friend. That was it and I was cool with it. He's there for me and I'm there for him on so many levels - emotionally, spiritually, professionally, etc. 
Then one day I don't even know when....I fell in love with him.....ugggh Since I've never been in a relationship (hence question #1 above), I committed the BougieFAIL of telling him how I felt about him as more than a friend without really getting a feel to see if he felt the same way. I know, I know, big mistake. Well, here's where it gets complicated...after I told him how I felt he didn't completely shoot me down. Now, I don't think he would've gone "Whitney HELL TO DA NAW" with the neck roll on me to express his disinterest (lol), but he did say it was something he would consider and something he'd actually thought about but wasn't sure how it would work. In his own words we connect really well and we both love how we can be transparent with each other so who knows what could happen. It's funny because who don't know assume that we're a couple and not just close friends and I IMMEDIATELY correct them that it's not that serious. 
Well, fast forward 2 years and dude is still considering and thinking....lol Yeah, we're still great friends, still work together (but now as business owners) and oddly enough the friendship has gotten stronger and more open despite my blurted out confession. [sic] He thinks I'm truly a special woman (no, not the short bus kind) that any guy would appreciate, he's just not sure he would be the one. I can't even say that he gave me the "it's not you, it's me" speech because we agreed that we both have issues to work out even if we were to get into a relationship. Jesus help me.... [SN: I left out some other details that have me just as confused, but I thought I'd give your eyes a break! ;)] 
Thanks for your ear, 
Confused in the City
My response to Confused was this:

1) One of my dearest friends had this same experience and actually did not have her first love/cocoa until age 36. We just kept being encouraging. It happens when it happens. I don’t know where you live but if you’re somewhere where the dating pool is shallow, you may want to consider online dating. A few reasons – one, you can start learning about people without the pressure of face to face. Two, you can go as slow as you like. Three, you have access to a lot more men. Understanding that you can regulate how much or how little you tell someone about yourself and your history. As for being afraid of getting hurt or getting taken advantage of – don’t fear that. It happens and unless the dude is dangerous (physically), you’ll survive and carry on to be smarter for the next encounter.

2) Just leave Thomas be. No ninja needs two years to decide if he wants to move to the next level. The fact that the friendship is there and it’s one that you values, let that be enough. More than likely if you meet and start dating someone else, Thomas will suddenly be ready to take it there. Case of never miss the water till it’s gone. I respect that you may feel the need to hold out hope waiting for The One to get on board but life too short and precious to spend it waiting.

And now it's your turn. Words of wisdom, thoughts, anecdotal tales? And remember, this girl came to BougieLand for help - speak your mind but keep it polite. The floor is yours.