I was 16 when I first fell in love. I thought it was love. I had hearts in my eyes and butterflies in my tummy. I got excited when he called and when he almost held my hand that one night.
We went out on grown up dates and I thought this was “it.” My first love would be the one. I felt so lucky, I mean, it’s not very common for a first love to become your fairy tale ending, I thought.
He was everything my family would have ever hoped for. He was my world. Little did I know then how confusing things could get.
I moved to attend college and so did he. We decided on different schools. Well, he did without discussing it with me. I told myself, “I will never move to a city for a boy,” So I went in the opposite direction of him.
Our love seemed like it could endure the long distance. He was 6 hours away on the train so I visited every weekend. Things were great until they weren’t. He broke up with me abruptly and I completely lost it. I threw up for a week straight and hysterically cried all day and all night.
My parents bought me a car to replace a love lost. It sure was a good band-aid! I became mobile and a force to reckon with. In both good and very bad ways.
Looking back, I wonder if this first love was really true love. He manipulated me and berated me throughout our entire three-year relationship. He made me feel special sometimes but never special enough. He never let me in on his deepest darkest secrets. He never expressed his true emotions regarding just everyday life situations. I always begged for him to let me in but he said he would rather “protect” me from the truth.
So is our first love really true love or is it just what we think love looks and feels like because we have never experienced something more? Was I dumb, naive or just looking for attention at 16? Could I have chosen to just not “fall in love?” Did I choose this guy because I thought my parents would approve? Did I stay with this guy out of love or out of insecurity?
The closer I analyze the situation, and the more time passes, I realize my first love was not really true. True love is patient and kind. True love shares vulnerability. True love is supportive and comforting. This particular relationship was sometimes cute but that was about it. I called it love because I didn’t know what else to call it. I thought it was forever because those around me would approve.
Sometimes I wonder what a miserable life I would be living had I married that first perception of love. This is all just time wasted. Who cares? I grew up and grew some balls. I learned what I want and what I deserve. I am now a woman who knows her worth. I know what love means to me and only me.
I know that I expect a deep emotional connection. I know that some love is strong but unsustainable. I know that love will never be perfect. But most importantly, I know how to recognize true love because I stay true to myself. I know true love because I truly love myself.
I’m sure some first relationships can become true love in time, but I don’t necessarily think they really ever begin that way…