When you've had to be strong your whole life, you forget how to meek and a little bit weak. Life happens one crisis at a time and in times of peace, you brace yourself for the fallout. You are a pillar and you will not be moved. People start to count on that.
No blame can be placed on those who see you the way you want to be seen. They can't help but trust you when you shout to the world that you're strong and capable and nothing can break you down. But we're all human. We're all so fragile. It takes a special type of person to see the minuscule cracks in your armor and take the time to break them open. They know there's no reason to pretend they're not there.
It takes time. First you have to love the strong in all that they are. Trust their resilience and be patient. They'll love you back, in their own way.
Eventually, the feelings will come like a flood and you will look down to see this special human being prying open the breaks in the stronghold that should have never had to be there in the first place. And then you fall in love.
Not the romantic, die by your side kind. It's the kind of affection that exists between two (or more) people whose souls were meant to meet in the middle and find comfort in that place. In a world that preaches eros for all and fulfillment in marriage, finding that bond of friendly familiarity is precious and rare. Especially for those who have never felt anything like that.
They teach you to rely on others and to love without reservation. They do little things that make your life full and make you feel like the world isn't such a bad place because they're in it, like sitting with you when you can't breathe from desperation and melancholy. It's amazing when someone sit through hopelessness with you, even if it's mutual. The empathy means the most. Friendships aren't given enough credit in this world. They save the strong from themselves.