4 Things I Learned About Love From My First Relationship

Khánh Hmoong
Khánh Hmoong

It ended as quickly as it began. In a matter of weeks we were together, and in a matter of weeks we were separated. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy at all to see her go, despite the speed of the events that unfolded and the mixed feelings we’ve had about each other after the initial passion dissipates. Some tears had to fall of course, to mark this transition from “in love” to “just friends”. And this brings me to my first point.

1. “Just friends” is bullshit.

Can we all agree that we can’t be just friends with the person that was once the person we hoped we could marry and start a family with before everything failed? There are no friends from past relationships. Period. You either hate them to the core, or that fuzzy feeling and momentary melting of your heart still lingers deep inside somewhere. And then you miss them. You miss the times and the moments you knew you were in love before everything fell apart. And then it stems out to all your mixed feelings right after a break-up.

Perhaps you don’t love him/her anymore, but if you don’t hate them, some part of you still likes them. “Just friends” is merely an excuse you use to justify your ambiguous thoughts about them and a façade to hide the fact that your relationship did end on a not-so-good note. “Just friends” is when you’re still taking chances with what might happen in the future. This is the very first thing you have to acknowledge after a break up. It keeps you sane and makes your life easier, so much easier.

Acknowledge that you’re still in love, that you’re still unable to let go, that they have left a mark on your heart. And then get over them. Or fall back in love again.

It still hurts anyway.

It’s just a matter of their worth.

2. Love is a conscious choice.

There’s more to love than just PDA, or candle-lit dinners, or 99 roses, or dozens of boxes of chocolates. Really, there’s more to it than just romance.
Love is a feeling that you choose, not a chemical reaction where PDA (g) + roses (s) = love (aq). It is something that comes and goes, something that you always hope will come back when it’s gone. Loving is a priority you have to set, and set it clear.

Nobody wakes up every single morning and automatically loves someone. We aren’t meant to be programmable robots who can feel and behave in a certain manner for the next 70 years. Humans judge other humans. Humans prefer those who are similar to them and reject those who aren’t. And that is the process you have to go through every day if you really love him/her. Loving is when you consciously choose to turn a blind eye to their flaws, and even better, embrace them. Loving someone is when you can see past the beautiful exterior and look into their inner self. Their insecurities and fears. Their quirky behaviours that would otherwise turn you straight off if it was someone else. You have to choose to love every single day.

It is a process of acknowledging the flaws that they may have or the little imperfections in your relationship and in doing so, loving them even more because of these flaws. Because it is these flaws that make us human, who we are.

So don’t feel confused when the passion dies down after some time. That is when it’s starting, that is when you really have to put in your very best and love. To put love on the very top of your to-do-list. To make choosing them your morning ritual. And your bedtime ritual. And then you earn the right to say that you love her.

Who said that love is effortless, anyway? Falling in and out of love is effortless. But loving isn’t. It is a choice. A not very rational and logical choice.

3. They exist outside of your brain. Not within.

Often people get disappointed when the relationship didn’t turn out as they like it to be (read: fantasized). Often people forget that relationships are based on an element of unpredictability. That is what attracts people to them in the first place. If the relationship you want is a predictable one, you can always try dating in GTA. Always predictable. Just bring her to her favourite restaurant/club/dating spot and voila! You’ll be “invited” to have coffee with her soon enough!

My point is, what we need to focus our sights on is the person right in front of us, and not the one in our minds. This always kills relationships, when we start to drift off from reality and dream a little bit too much and a little bit too far. A relationship exists in the now, not in the past, nor in the future. So it’s not that you can’t dream about the future, but please, just remember to come back on the ground, back to reality. Back to appreciating the person in front of you, not the imaginary SO you’ve created within your mind.

Wake up from your dreams. Before you crash back into reality.

So please, take your bloody time, know how you feel, interrogate yourself, be mindful of where the person you’re loving is. You’re loving someone, you’re in a relationship. You’re not writing a fairy tale, you’re not dating an imaginary person. You’re dating a real person that has her own feelings and thoughts too. And just in case you didn’t know, you don’t dictate what they think or feel.

So get your emotions in order and think clearly before you get into a relationship, before she gets hurt, or you get hurt.

4. It will eventually end. And it will hurt.

Yes, I’ve heard clichés about how love never dies and love lasts forever. I get it. But it doesn’t change the fact that love ends eventually. All love does. And all love ends in pain. It will hurt. It must hurt. It ain’t love if it didn’t hurt.

I must admit, this is the most liberating hard truth that I’ve learnt from my very first relationship, despite its comparatively short length.

Often, we only learn how to cherish what we can lose. When we look at someone who would always be there, we start to take them for granted. And that marks the very beginning of the problems, problems that could very well be avoided. We learn how to cherish what we can lose, or what we will lose. We cherish the things that are subjected to the mysterious and yet miraculous forces of nature, because we never know what they may become the next day, or the day after the next.

My friend once advised me that I shouldn’t think about the end at the beginning. I didn’t have an answer back then. Now I have.

How can we appreciate something that doesn’t end? How can we learn to cherish something if it lasts forever? How can we learn to love with all our heart and soul, if relationships were never-ending?

And how can we better people, better lovers, if we weren’t once hurt by these relationships that ended prematurely, that we knew we might have a chance, only if we did things differently then?

All love ends with someone being hurt. Like the sadness that comes from within when you graduate from school, every failed relationship is a graduation. You’ve graduated, learnt more and even though you feel sad about the whole situation, you know your journey has to end someday, and one day you will have to move on. Both of you will have to move on.
To your separate ways.

To graduate once more, in different places, with a personalized degree in loving.
And that is true love, when it hurts, but you still take the risk. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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