5 Things I’ve Learned From Past Girlfriends

1. The Game-Changer

You were the first person who broke through the façade, the first person I didn’t have to pretend for. We were always best friends, and never actually made it to being lovers, but you were the first girl I had strong emotional feelings for. Before you, there were girls I was attracted to. Those crushes both amused and confused me, but you were the first one I deeply cared about, the first one who REALLY made me question whether or not I was straight. I wondered why I had never had a best friend as close to me as you before, but it took me until later on to realize I was really just falling for you.

You pushed my limits. You dug deeper. You tried to find out what made me tick, who I was beneath the nonconformist and cynical exterior of my trying-to-be-tough-but-really-incredibly-fragile 17-year-old self. There was absolutely no bullshitting with you because you demanded the truth at all times. You taught me what it meant to be trust. To really know another person. When we stopped being friends, I wondered why breakup songs on the radio made me think of you and cry. I wondered why my stomach felt sick and my heart started pounding every time we passed each other in the hallway and looked the other way. I wondered why I had the urge to text you and say “sorry,” hoping that things could go back to normal.

They never did, and that’s okay. I’ll never truly know if the feelings I had for you were mutual or unrequited, but I believe we were in each others’ lives for a reason. You were the one who ‘got the ball rolling’ in terms of figuring out and making peace with my sexuality, and I needed that. I hope I helped you in some way as well.

2. The First Love

Thoughts of you will always be bittersweet. Sweet because falling in love for the first time is probably one of the most exciting experiences a person will ever have, and bitter because getting your heart broken for the first time is one of the most painful experiences a person can ever have.

I learned what it was like to love another person, and that in itself is pretty damn life-changing. I learned what it was like to be ashamed of who I really was, and terrified of anyone finding out. I learned that I could lie, and seeing the hurt that it caused shaped me into a more honest person who would never do something like what we did again. I learned what it was like to hit bottom. I was probably mentally unstable and definitely suffering a breakdown due to the stress of our relationship/breakup, and I know that my actions and words hurt a lot of people. After we stopped speaking, I really re-examined who I was, made peace with myself, let go of my anger and insecurities, and climbed my way from rock bottom to the sky. I have blossomed into a person I am truly proud to be.

We got ourselves into a real clusterfuck of a situation, and our secret relationship wound up hurting the people we care about the most. God, what a fucking mess, huh? But, you know, “we were merely freshman,” and we both made mistakes and I know that I am a better and infinitely stronger person for it. I’d like to think that somewhere out there, you can say the same.

Reflecting on our relationship after it was over, I realized that we were actually really wrong for each other. I’m not even sure if we even knew each other as well and as deeply as we thought we did back then. I think we were more caught up in the excitement of first love and someone to share our secret with. But I definitely learned that there were some qualities about you I would definitely need to have in my next girlfriend, and that there were some things I needed that you didn’t have, but that maybe someone else would. All in all, we had some really memorable and fun times together, as well as some terrible times that helped me grow. As with all first love, it was a learning experience all around.

3. The Gay Mentor

Oh, you. It’s been quite a saga, hasn’t it? From never speaking a word to each other in class to making out the first night we hung out to me blocking your number like the crazed lesbian I was back in those days, to us now being totally civil and actually catching up every now and then — I can’t help but laugh when I think about it. The most important thing about us is that we helped each other. I still wasn’t totally out to everyone yet, and was just starting to really accept that I was gay. Hanging out with someone who was so comfortable with it (plus all of your lesbian crew you introduced me to) helped me make the adjustment and get comfortable. (Though I have to admit I was the girliest of the bunch by far and I was starting to panic that no one would ever want to date me if I couldn’t long-board….)

Because of you I remembered to be authentic and true to myself, to not worry so much about living a conventional life and doing things that impressed people but to just “do me” and fuck what everyone else thinks. And as you’ve told me, I was real with you and showed you that you were basically playing games and being a bitch and you really needed to get your shit together. Like, ASAP. You needed to stop having me, and your ex, and your ex-ex still hanging around and causing drama and two other girls you hooked up with all in the room at the same time and you needed to stand up to the people who were treating you like shit so you could stop treating other people like shit.

You were also the first girl I had really strong feelings for after my first girl, and any lesbians know that that is crucial. The first girl is important in different ways but the SECOND girl confirms that maybe you can find love again, and that just because your ex was the first girl you ever kissed, it doesn’t mean she is the only girl who will ever give you butterflies. And that it’s okay to feel those butterflies and risk getting hurt again, because dating girls is just too much damn fun and the risks in love are always the best kinds of risks.

4. The Clinger

I had the power in our relationship, and I knew it. One thing about me is that it takes awhile for me to fully open up and show my full self to people — so when someone seems too interested and eager right away, I know that they are only falling for the idea of me instead of the real me. That’s what happened with you. I freaked out when you started dropping hints about being exclusive after we’d only been on a few dates. I know it seemed like we hit it off really well, but I felt pressured to go too fast after getting hurt twice (okay, more like 5 times) in a row right before that, and I wasn’t about to just jump right in.

The ironic part is that I met someone else while you and I were seeing each other, and she and I fell in love in under two weeks. The night after I met her was when I told you we couldn’t see each other anymore. I think you might know that, so I feel the need to address it — not to be a total bitch and not to throw it in your face, but just to point out that sometimes it’s right and sometimes it’s not. I think I may have hurt you, and I’m sorry for that. I know what it’s like so I would never, ever want to be the cause of that. I’m pretty sure you have a girlfriend now, so maybe you found your “right,” too.

What I learned from my time with you was that I do have the courage to end something when I know it’s not right. I can hit the breaks when I feel like I’m being pressured. And that dating can actually be fun even when it may be awkward at the same time. As for what you took away from that, I can only guess. I was the second girl you’d ever been with, and I know that I was just as eager and puppy-lovesick for my second girl as you were for me. She made me realize that just because I was happy to find a girl I liked after my first, it didn’t mean it was meant to be. And hey, maybe that’s what I taught you. That you can keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and getting back out there. You can have a blast dating around but not settling for someone who isn’t quite the right fit.

5. The True Love; My Current Girlfriend

Sometimes it still blows my mind that I found someone as perfect for me as you are. Even after over a year of being together and almost 6 months of living together, I still wake up and have to pinch myself sometimes at how lucky I am to be waking up next to you.

Our relationship may be as close to perfect as a relationship could get, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. We’ve both learned that relationships take work, especially in situations like ours where we are both so different from each other. But that’s why I call you the yin to my yang, that’s what keeps it interesting. That’s what forces both of us to continue to grow.

You give me structure and I give you a different perspective. We’re not afraid to call each other out when we’re slipping up, slacking, or being unfair. (“You tell me when I am being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you are a pain in the ass. Which you are, 99% of the time.” Yes, I did just quote The Notebook).

Like when I leave my pile of clothes on the hamper instead of putting them away (which happens less frequently than it ever used to — right babe?!) or when you get yourself all in a tizzy over work and I force you to go for a long walk on the beach with me and try to remind you that sometimes you have to take a step back and a breather so you can recharge your batteries and remember what’s important. (Even though it doesn’t always work…and even though that was a run-on sentence…)

Being in a relationship as an adult (Or at least, at 23, more of an adult than I’ve ever been) and living with someone has taught me so much more than I can fit in this cataloged thought. Overall, you and I are the best versions of ourselves when we’re around each other. I want to be a better person for you, and I’m not afraid to chase after my dreams and to force myself to do my best because I know that you’ll be holding my hand and supporting me. You give me wings, and I don’t care how corny or cliché that sounds. Everyone keeps telling me they’ve never seen me so happy, and it’s an amazing thing to hear because it’s true.

Loving you makes all the pain that the girls in my past caused me worth it. Because I was able to grow into the person I needed to be when I met you: a wiser and better me, who, after a long and formative period of being single, was finally ready to love again. And little did I know that the second time you fall in love, it is an even deeper and more real love than the first time around.

Thank you for being patient in breaking down the walls that some of the girls on this list gave me, and thank you for being understanding when I told you about the things that had happened with them. I love that we can both respect each others’ pasts and be thankful for each others’ exes — because they got all the crappy parts of dating out of the way so that when we met, we were able to have the relationship we have.

The rest of our lives are going to be fucking awesome, as long as we’re together. TC mark

image – Shht!

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