Your friend has made it very clear that she does not want a romantic relationship with you at this time. You stated in your correspondence that she did a heroic act that likely saved your life. You’ve also stated that you are deeply in her debt.
If you really do believe that you are deeply in her debt, then you should honor her wishes. Her wishes include maintaining your friendship and not entering into a romantic relationship at this time.
You stated that you are convinced that she trusts the wrong people and she has and will be hurt because of this. You may and probably already have told her your thoughts on this subject. Remember, you cannot think for her nor can you force your feelings and beliefs upon her. To do so would be abusing the very person that you are trying to protect.
I don’t know exactly what she did for you that you have found to be so courageous and life-saving. Whatever it was, she did it willingly, voluntarily and without thought of any type of compensation. It was a very caring, selfless, generous act on her part. You cheapen her life-saving act as by stressing the issue of “payback.”
Indeed, you are in her debt. But only she is entitled to specify whether she wants the debt repaid and, if she does, in what form. You are in essence only offering to repay the debt by offering her a romantic relationship.
If you truly feel that you are in her debt, then you must honor her wishes. My advice to you is to remain her friend, to ask absolutely nothing more from her and simply wait to see whether she wishes to have a romantic relationship with you.
No matter what happens romantically, by respecting her wishes you have at least in part repaid your debt.
I wish you the best of luck.
Dr. Kristina Randle