Reflecting on My First Love vs. My Second Love
I said this in my last blog post, and I’mma say it again here… I feel a big ole cry in me. There’s this emotion building up inside of me, and I feel like I could ball my eyes out at any moment. I’m feeling weirdly nostalgic and grateful for the heartbreak I’ve been through in my life. And I keep looking back on certain memories from both of my serious relationships, and I want to hug both versions of myself—who I was in each of those relationships. Aaaaand as I type this, I can feel the emotion building and building, and I think the tears are on their way.
Memories keep popping into my brain. The other day, March 7, marked seven years since I got into my very first relationship. The number seven has a lot of meaning for me, so I can’t help but zero in on it a little. I picture 16-year-old me so excited about a guy and falling in love for the first time, blissfuly unaware of all the heartache to come. I want to hug that girl so badly. I feel like a protective mama looking out for her daughter, but there’s nothing I can do since that’s in the past. It’s also crossed my mind that I’m coming up on seven years since I heard “I love you” for the first time in a romantic way (it’ll be seven years on April 19), by the guy I got into that first relationship with on March 7, 2011. I think about how caught off guard I was when my first boyfriend, M, said “I love you” to me on my living room couch. I had this immediate, pretty adorable reaction in which I said “what?” in the faintest little voice. It took me a minute to process what was happening, but I don’t think it took me long to say those words back. And I meant them…as much as a 16-year-old can mean them. There’s certain beautiful moments that stand out to me with M, which is nice, because that relationship with him was mostly a shit show.
Onward & Upward
I joke with friends, strangers, and my mom that I have “the bad ex” and “the good ex.” My first boyfriend was the bad one, and my second (and currently latest), W, was the good one. Every now and then my mom and I will reminisce about shitty things M did, and we’re like, “W would never have done that.” We say it in a joking way, but it's completely true. I’m so proud that I was able to go from bad to good in terms of romantic partners. Even the guys I’ve just gone on dates with have been pretty dang great, just not for me. I see so many friends of mine stuck in a pattern of dating guys who don’t treat them well, and it’s nice to know I stopped with that after the very first guy who didn’t treat me right.
My First Love vs. My Second Love
I haven’t really written about this; I’ve just talked about it with people close to me. But I struggle a little bit internally when it comes to comparing the love I had with M and the love I had with W. The word “compare” sounds bad, but I don’t mean it in a bad way. Comparison can be unhealthy, but I think it can also be important in terms of figuring out what works and what doesn’t doesn’t work for you in relationships. You should take what you like from each relationship you’re in and bring it with you into the next to keep learning and growing and adding onto positive habits and attitudes.
When I think of the love I had for and with M, I can feel it on a very deep level. I don’t have a crippling emotional attachment to it now, like I once did, because that relationship is so in the past, but I still describe the love in that relationship in an impassioned way. Like, if someone asks me about my past relationships and if I've been in love, my relationship with M pops into my brain first, and I still describe it with such intensity, even though it's been over for a long time. It felt like fireworks and lightning. Granted, it was first love, which feels intense to everyone because you’re young and experiencing all these big emotions and exciting events for the first time. But, even so, I truly believe M and I had a rare first love experience that spanned about four years. And I think my friends and family who knew the ins and outs of it would say the same.
Then there’s W. I don’t even like thinking of W as part of my past, because I have nothing but fond memories with him. I still see him as my best friend, even though we rarely see each other or share real conversations. Love with him was slow and easy compared to love with M. I feel like I fell in love with M, whereas I grew in love with W. With M, everything happened so fast, and it got more and more tumultuous as time went on. With W, we communicated our way to deeper love and shared moments and experiences and laughter that brought us closer. And even though I ultimately felt like something was missing with W and had to end the relationship, I’m happy to have grown in love with him. What we had was solid and constant fun, and I still get emotional sometimes when I think about how a hug from him could calm me in my most stressed out, fragile moments. He was there for me in a way I could always count on, I was excited to see him every single day, and I’m so grateful for that relationship. Our love was quiet, which I appreciated to an extent but wasn't fully satisfied with. We had a strong foundation, great communication, and no drama, but I think I needed our love to be louder, more passionate. Not dramatic, just more passionate.
I remember in the beginning of my relationship with W, I got caught up in comparing our relationship to the one I had with M, because that was all I had known relationship-wise. I couldn't stress enough to W that I wasn't comparing him as a person to M as a person (because lemme tell ya, there's no comparison), but rather, certain feelings I had in each relationship. With W, I was seeking certain feelings and connections that I had with M. Because my love language is Words of Affirmation, I craved romantic words and texts. M was always a good talker. He charmed the shit out of me and always knew what to say to keep me hanging on. Big romantic words and gestures were his thing, but all of that was rarely accompanied by action. I expected so much from W in terms of reassurance in the form of words, and then one day we were cuddled up on my couch and I was comparing our relationship to mine with M, and he said something like, “I’m not M. He was a talker, and I’m a doer. He said all these things but never followed through. I do what I say I’m going to do. You know that.” And that was a game changer for me. He was so right.
Buuuut, that didn’t mean everything was suddenly okay. It helped and got us through that one hump, because we were always great at communicating, but there was still something missing. There was this passion with M that I can’t explain, and once you feel passion like that and know it exists, you don’t want to settle for less than it. That in no way means I wanted, or do want, what I had with M (hell no), because it wasn’t healthy, but I want the kind of passion I had with him, just in a healthy relationship. It was hard for me to realize I lacked things in each relationship that I had in the other.
With M, we had passion but lacked trust. With W, we had trust but lacked the level of passion that I need to feel secure. With M, saying “I love you” wasn’t just something we said because that’s what you’re supposed to do in a relationship. We felt it so strongly that it just poured out of us, like “Holy shit, I love you so much!” With W, saying “I love you” was how we ended phone conversations and what we said when we were going to sleep. It felt more like, We’re saying this, because that’s what you do in a relationship. And it’s interesting, because I know W and I loved each other. I still love him. But I struggle to know if we were in love or not. Some days I feel like we were, and others I’m not so sure. That was hard for me while in a relationship with W, because I was like, “Why does his love for me not pour out of him? Does he not know what it feels like to love someone so much you can’t help but express it?” There was only one time I can pinpoint that he said it beautifully and instinctively. He came with me on a Target run (Target was my favorite place to go with him, because we always had a blast running and laughing through the aisles), and as I stood in an aisle looking for a box of green tea, “I love you” slipped off his tongue as he watched me trying to find the box I was looking for. It was so pure and unexpected, and it made me feel loved in a deeper way than I had felt with him before. But I only remember it so well because it was a rare moment of that kind of thing. And it makes me sad, because I know there was a lot of love between us. We showed love in our actions every day. I just don’t know what kind of love it was, and that weighs heavy on my heart sometimes.
I feel the need to mention that I was W's first real girlfriend and relationship, and we started dating when he was 22 and I was 21. So, I'm aware that we were both young and I still am young since that was only about two years ago. I just couldn't get past feeling that W didn't know how to love me the way I need to be loved, even though he's a genuinely good guy. And that could have been due to age and lack of experience in love or just incompatibility. Who knows. What I do know is, it's not enough for me to be with "the nice guy." I need the above and beyond guy who loves me deeply and knows how to give me the love I need. Because I'm above and beyond when it comes to giving love. Of course, love doesn't feel like fireworks and lightning all the time. Sometimes it's quiet and simple. Sometimes the passion is misplaced. Sometimes you don't put in enough effort. But you have to know that the metaphorical fireworks and lightning exist. You not only have to know what it takes to get back to that, but you have to know that you're with the person you can feel that with; the person you want to build a life and love with forever.
Physical Intimacy & Sex Talk
And then there’s the sex and physical intimacy thang…
With M, there was this fire. We could stare into each others’ eyes in silence for long periods of time, and it was this high I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words. We had these unreal make-outs that feel like a dream to me now. But we lost trust so quickly that I rarely enjoyed sex with him. It didn’t feel good to me most of the time, and I don’t know if that was a physical thing, a mental thing, or a mix of both.
With W, there was trust. Sex with him was way better than with M, but the fire wasn’t at the same level somehow. I remember coming to the realization that I had trouble looking into W’s eyes except when we were having sex. During sex, I craved deep eye contact and connection, and the eye contact was easy during sex. But outside of sex, I couldn’t comfortably look into his eyes in silence or for long periods of time and feel at peace. And that’s the weirdest thing for me when I compare my relationships.
Why was I able to comfortably share intense eye contact with someone I didn’t trust, but not with someone I did trust? I think about that sometimes and don’t have an answer. I guess I just know that when it comes to future relationships, I’ll need all of it— to be able to stare into someone’s eyes in silence and feel trust and peace.
Now, I'm not a "what if" person. I believe everything happens how it's supposed to, and I've never believed in regret. Buuuut, I can't help but wonder sometimes what it would have been like if W was my first love. If I had never met M. Would I have fallen harder for W than I actually did? Would my relationship with W have had tons more passion than it did?
I have no idea. I feel like I was able to be as good a girlfriend as I was with W because I learned so much from my experiences with M. And then I have this thought... I know how hard M and I fell for each other and how intense our love felt to us. It was the quintessential first love experience. If I was W's first love (which I was) and he didn't feel that first love excitement most people feel, what does that mean? Does he just operate differently? Or maybe he's more of a realist and doesn't get caught up in feelings the way so many people do. My mind wanders off to so many places when I think about W, because there are little things that are still a mystery to me. But what we had was good. It was right until it wasn't, and even when it wasn't, it was still better than my relationship with M. And I was strong enough to end it when I knew there was something missing. I didn't have that strength with M, because I lost so much of my strength with him. But I learned from that relationship. I learned from both of my relationships. I have both M and W to thank for who I am today. So, cheers to that!
Wow, I wasn’t expecting all of this to pour out of me tonight. I was prepared to go to bed early, but alas…
Oh, and no tears! The longer I go without crying, the more I feel like a waterfall is coming. But I feel good about getting all this out. I’ve had these thoughts about my two relationships for a while, and it’s nice that I was able to put my feelings and curiosity into words. I have been so heavily shaped by my two serious relationships, and I want to get my thoughts out and be able to look back on them as I get older and experience love and romance in different ways, with different people.
Okay, time for sleep and maybe crying if I can get it outta me!