There are so many opinions surrounding the importance of the past versus the present. I was there first; your last love will be your greatest love; the first cut is the deepest. So what’s the truth? Does chronology really hold as much significance as they say?
Well, it’s worth mentioning that no two relationships are ever the same. Yes, the first to arrive is the first to discover everything. How their lips feel, how they look when they’re nervous, excited, giddy, upset, defeated. The first to get close, to feel their heart beat, to breathe out those three special words… But first loves end. It happens. You’re young and you’re learning. After a reasonable amount of time, a new relationship follows.
So, does the mere fact that someone else has already been there devalue this new love? Granted, the fact remains that this is not the first time they’ve pressed their lips against someone else’s or whispered those special words. And yes, they’ve had feelings for another person in the past, but you are an entirely different entity from that past love! You are completely separate and unique, and it is you alone who is pitting yourself against the ex for your perceived claim over their heart. What you have to keep in mind is that the reasons they fell for you are not going to be the same reasons they fell for anyone who came before. You’re the first you they’ve ever loved (and, incidentally, the only). But guess what? You might not be right for each other either.
And here’s where it gets difficult.
They may have a brand new set of experiences with new lips to kiss, new eyes to gaze into, and a new hand to hold. Yet, they’ll say those same three words to someone else. How can that be? Don’t those words get cheapened the more they’re said? Doesn’t it mean less when you’re not the first?
The thing about those words is that they mean something different for everyone you say them to. Love is not something that can be conquered or claimed. You can’t plant your flag in someone’s heart and etch in “I was here” for good measure. You can’t keep the part of them you once held close, so that anyone that comes after you will see the hole you’ve left. A heart does not wear away with use. It grows. It adapts and changes, much like ourselves. Saying “I love you” is something unique every single time you say it. It’s as inimitable as the person hearing it.
The person you’re currently dating is not the same as they were when they dated what’s-their-name from college or the heartbreaker in high school. They’ve grown from their experiences with them into the adult — the human, the person — you currently know. Your love is an individual, stand-alone, irreplaceable bond between who you are today and who they are today. And whoever is in your past is to thank for these present-tense people you’ve become.
So next time you’re hung up on your partner’s past, wondering how you stack up, remember that you yourself have relationships from days gone by. Think back to who you were when you loved them. Chances are, you’ve evolved past those relationships and come out the other side more certain of what you want in a partner. So flash a fleeting smile into your rearview mirror, and ride off together into the sunset. Regardless of who came first, second, or 13th, appreciate that you’ve found a heart that sets off your own, and the two of you can dance to that shared rhythm as though you’d never been apart.