1. You feel lucky because at first you worried it would never happen for you again.
2. Your eyes are open now. You aren’t a dumb kid anymore giving your heart away for free. You know the real risks of love now, how painful and consuming getting your heart broken can be. You’ve lost love now and you know the person you love needs to be worth the risk of all that pain.
3. When you first loved and lost someone, you thought you would never feel better. You thought they were The One and Only and you would never find someone else so lovable and perfect for you again. But you did, and now you try not to put them on a pedestal quite so high. You love them, but you don’t lose sight of the world in the same way. They are human, just like you are.
4. You realize that no love is perfect because no people are perfect. People screw up. They are not always on their best behavior and sometimes they aren’t the kind of person you ever thought you would love, but you do the work to love them anyways because that’s what love is.
5. You know a love can be bigger than a passing feeling.
6. You make yourself be gracious during your fights (and there are fights). You don’t care so much about “winning” the argument as you do about solving the issue and making sure things will work better between the two of you the next time this issue comes up.
7. You realize a happy ever after only looks that way from the outside. You’ve been over the moon in love and that’s just a feeling that passes, it’s hormones. What you need is the pick the kind of person who you will still love when the hormones and the butterflies go away — and to be willing to work yourself to love them and be worthy of their love.
8. You’ve eased up on the PDA and the constant social media shares and couple selfies. That was to prove something because you were so excited that you were in love and that someone could actually love you. Now you already know that. This love isn’t to prove anything to anyone else. It’s just for you.
9. You might not be the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend but you are becoming aware of where you fall short and make a genuine attempt to improve. Maybe you’re unnecessarily jealous and you nag your partner because of it. It won’t happen overnight but you are trying to become more trusting and be okay with living with a bit of vulnerability and leaving some things unknown.
10. You fall in love more slowly this time, more deliberately. You aren’t in a rush for it to be with just any person. You want to make it count.
11. You discover the joy of staying in. With your first love you were eager to go out and show off your new love. Now you’re just eager to stay in and live your love.
12. The object of your affection is so less because of your “quirky” common interests (OMG WE BOTH LOVE NETFLIX AND PIZZA HOW UNIQUE AND INTERESTING) and more so because you’ve taken the time to vet them. They are a grown-ass man or woman, someone who adds value to your life, someone who is mature and interesting and has a whole lot more to offer than “fun” and/or “fun to look at.”
13. You realize why some bad things happen. Without your first love crashing and burning you could never realize how thankful you are for this love that actually works. You’re prepared to love someone in a way you weren’t before and as much as it sucked to experience, you’re in a better place in life because of it.