A girl’s first love is passionate, inspired, and exhilarating, to say the least. The feelings associated with a first love are overwhelming; who would’ve thought one person could cause you to feel intense emotions through a simple laugh or a goodnight text. Being engulfed by another human in such a way is a frightening idea, but it doesn’t take long for all apprehension to go out the window by the blind and naive nature of a first love. You exist in this dreamlike state of being, oblivious to reality and anyone who may try to intrude on your fantasy.
What happens then, when this fantasy ceases to subsist as such? Discovering a boyfriend or girlfriend has been disloyal violently tears you out of this surreal world of love and hurls you into realm of anger, hurt, and abandonment. You grieve. Hard. Speaking from experience, this grief is in many ways comparable to the pain felt from losing a close family member. Your friends and family do their best to support you. They provide you with all the comfort food you can stomach while silently holding back the “I told you so” that they know would set you over the edge. This downward spiral of self-pity continues for a while, and just when you think you can’t possibly cope any longer, something good happens. A text from an old friend or a smile from the cute guy in front of you at the grocery store. This good thing momentarily whisks you away from the realm of heartache and misery just long enough for you to catch a glimpse of the pure happiness you used to be so familiar with.
As time goes on these sporadic good events evolve into good moods, soon becoming good days, then weeks. Eventually the pain and grief you felt over someone you used to know seems insignificant. At first, even a fleeting memory back to this period in my life was enough to make me cringe. I was disgusted by the amount of time I spent feeling miserable and sorry for myself. But all the ups and downs I faced during that year and a half taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined.
That being said, I’d be lying if I claimed that, given the chance to do it all over again, I’d spend just as much time wallowing in the post-breakup sphere. Yes, many valuable life lessons were discovered through this grieving process. On the other hand, who in their right mind wants to suffer more than they absolutely have to? Grieving a lost relationship is inevitable, but for those of you like me who would prefer to expedite this process, here are a few preliminary steps to follow:
1. Is a breakup really the only option?
First and foremost, you want to be sure you’ve fully thought through the pros and cons of ending the relationship. I have little tolerance for men who are dishonest or who don’t value their girlfriends. Yet, there is something to be said about the couple who fights for their relationship and triumphs with a stronger bond after it all. This is never easy decision, but if your subconscious is nagging you about cutting ties with your first love that’s typically the best option.
2. Now that you’ve made your decision, stick to it.
It’s always easier to end a relationship while still leaving one foot in the door, just in case. If you think there is still room to grow and you are both willing to work toward it then don’t even bother breaking up in the first place. If not, all of those “just in case” feelings that you hope will spare you emotional heartache will only leave you stranded with more questions than answers. Closure is one of the most essential elements of a healthy, yet speedy breakup. Plus, in the long run it will save you a hell of a lot of hours at the gym after smothering your feelings with everyone’s best friends Ben and Jerry.
3. Completely cut ties. All of them.
This includes phone number and social media. Once you have said all you needed to say and have come to terms with the breakup the best thing you can do for yourself is eliminate any possible source for him to invade your thoughts. Out of sight out of mind has never resonated with me as much as it did after I finally gained the strength to delete my ex from all aspects of my life. The idea of “just friends” following the breakup with your first love is a nice thought. You may even think it fitting to congratulate yourself for your impeccable maturity and for handling the situation in such a responsible manner. It’s also complete bullshit. It doesn’t matter how long you had dated or how close you were before the relationship. A friendship immediately following the end of your first real, intimate relationship is simply not possible. Not to say that an amiable relationship couldn’t be a possibility in the future, but in terms of moving on in the best way possible, a little room to breath is likely exactly what both of you need.
4. Put yourself out there.
You’ve probably heard this line time and time again since before you can remember. It’s the phrase your parents comforted you with on the first day of kindergarten and continued to do so all the way up to move-in day of your freshman year of college. As redundant as this message has become over the years, it’s importance should never be undermined. Thrusting yourself out into the uncharted sea that is the dating world will likely sound just as appealing as fighting to put on a sports bra after a shower. You may suffer through a few awkward first dates but once the initial uneasy feelings have worn off you will be forever grateful you suffered through them.
5. Don’t be afraid to move on.
After putting yourself back on the dating market you may be surprised to find that some of those giddy butterfly feelings you once felt for your ex may have returned. Don’t run away from these. You may subconsciously feel like you’re cheating yourself and create excuses for why this new guy doesn’t live up to your standards. Most of the time this anxiety is a simply a primitive attempt at alleviating the stress that comes along with change in life. The way I look at it is this. What do you really have to lose? Either he turns out to be a complete tool and you never have to see him again or you could discover that the two of you really click together. It’ll take some time to develop the intensity of feelings you once felt for your first love, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.