Years later and you find yourself still wondering what your high school sweetheart is up to. First loves get a bad rap, but play a much bigger role than we give them credit for. While this magical time can’t be replicated, it’s impermanence is for the best.
Everything comes together creating the perfect platform for simple relationships in high school. You have just enough responsibility to begin discovering who you are, but also aren’t yet responsible for big-picture things (i.e. supporting yourself financially and so on). As horrible as this sounds, you also don’t carry any major baggage yet, making the relationship-process much smoother.
That initial relationship is the first time you discover that people can deeply care for you, love you even, outside of your family. This is just one of the several reasons young love is so important.
An Important Role
Beyond a self-confidence boost, your high school sweetheart probably taught you a lot of other valuable lessons as well. There’s significantly more social-responsibility that comes along with romantic relationships as opposed to platonic ones.
You’re really in a position to hurt someone. It holds a lot of power, and unfortunately is often abused by many in the first stages of dating. Your first partner experiences your best and worst. Your most undamaged but also least filtered self.
Vulnerability is at its peak. If you become physically intimate with this person, it deepens the potential of pain. But again, this same vulnerability makes you stronger. It shows you that someone sees all of you, physically and emotionally, and loves you even more for it.
While this bond holds major importance, we often let nostalgia run a bit too wild when it comes to our first loves.
Yes, things were new, simple, and exciting, but they most definitely were not perfect and would not be perfect for us now.
Always Better in Retrospect
Entering the dating world after being in a relationship is confusing (aka it sucks.) Often times we glamorize our most recent relationship in comparison to the shit-show of the modern dating world. Things were comfortable and easy.
In reality, however, we miss this predictability. Not the person themselves. If your first love was also your high school sweetheart then you may even miss the simplicity of that period of your life more than the actual person. Don’t rag on yourself for this, it happens to everyone.
It’s important (and also extremely challenging) not to act on these feelings. Unfortunately many of us do. We begin with pure intentions that quickly turn into a selfish quest. We use a person, who has changed dramatically since we dated them, as a make-shift time machine to teen-rebellion and ignorance. The only thing that hurts more than missing this time or person, is the realization that its replication is impossible.
The most essential component of this process is moving on. Don’t invalidate your feelings, or the role this person and relationship played in your life, but cherish what it taught you and move on.
Live & Learn
Our first romance teaches us so much. Rather than wishing to have it all back, use all your mistakes and theirs to become a better version of yourself inside and outside the dating world.
It’s so easy falling victim to the outlier complex after getting out of your first relationship. Meaning, you believe that person is the only one who will ever love you enough to date you and you completely threw it away. Or, that your past partner is the only one who you will ever love enough to date and you completely threw it away. Such thoughts are completely false.
As esoteric as it sounds, the world gives us exactly what we need to see within ourselves through our relationships.
Putting Yourself First
The company you keep directly reflects your relationship with yourself. Your first love is the beginning of the life-long journey of figuring out who the hell you are and loving yourself for it. Each person that comes along next may not be that “perfect fit” because they simply aren’t meant to be.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to force relationships in order to replicate or invalidate past ones. It doesn’t work. The “perfect fit” is someone you most likely can’t think up. They show you what you need to see within yourself: the good, the bad, and everything in-between.
The gap between partners is also very important. You go through your former relationship, slowly discovering and acting upon the lessons it teaches you. It’s not until you’ve completely learned what you needed to that you will find that next “perfect fit.” Yes, it’s incredibly frustrating, but it’s also completely amazing.
I guarantee that if you put in the self-work, you’ll finally get to the place where you harbor zero resentment toward your former loves, aren’t attempting to replicate what once was, or trying to force any new potential relationships either. The only way to get to this point, is through diligent focus on the relationship you have with yourself.
A partner won’t fix you. They’re meant to augment the person you already are. They aren’t supposed to be a project in need of fixing, but a part of your life that makes everything a bit easier.
Mourn your first love, but learn from it. Love yourself, live in the present, and everything falls into place. I promise you.
Cover image via She Knows
Also published on Medium.