I’ve always envied those people who end up spending their lives with the first person they loved. I can’t imagine how fulfilling it must be to know that your heart got it right the first time. What must it be like to know that love never betrayed you?
These stories of first love turned only love are despairingly rare.
In time, most people come to view first loves with fondness and affection. First love is when we learn that vulnerability requires courage and strength. First love is often when we realize that endings are inevitable. First love shapes us whether we want it to or not.
In our culture’s current dating climate, first love seems a taboo topic. How do you count someone as a “first love” when the relationship remained undefined and unlabeled? How do you confess that you were insignificant to someone who meant so much to you and who taught you so much about your own heart? How do you reconcile the shallowness of the other person’s experience with the depth of emotion you felt for them?
How does something that once seemed to bring two people so much joy become something that is no longer worth fighting for?
Sometimes a first love serves the purpose of showing you what love should not look like. In this case, first love may give you a warped impression of relationships, and it may leave you wondering if you’d be happier on your own.
Sometimes first love is blissful, and it only ends because two people want different things in life or because timing and circumstances worked against them.
Regardless of the first love experience, one thing is common between them all. It’s hard to let go of all you hoped it would be.
When you experience something for the first time, no matter what that experience is, it’s hard to understand and navigate. You might feel inadequate or stupid for not knowing how to handle everything the experience brings, especially when the heart is involved, and most especially when another person is involved.
It’s already overwhelming to figure out new things. When you add the thoughts, feelings, and actions of another person into the equation, it becomes impossible to solve. The head and the heart might be at odds because you cannot apply logic to emotion.
When a first love ends, it rips you apart. It affects you on a fundamental level and calls into question everything you thought you understood about the world, life, yourself. You feel like you’ll never see the world in the same hopeful light ever again, and the hard truth is, you never will. Having your heart broken for the first time challenges the naïve optimism that good intentions are met with positive outcomes. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and there’s nothing you can do to change it.
How do you recover from something when you can’t even begin to understand it?
There is no easy answer to this question. For centuries, musicians, poets, novelists, playwrights, artists have all created works exploring love and broken hearts; centuries of humans have searched for a cure for heartbreak, and the resounding answer seems to be this: The only way out is through.
Once you accept the finality of the ending, you can allow yourself to embrace the heartache. Fighting against it, denying its presence, minimizing its effect on you will only prolong the process. It won’t be easy, and some days you might feel like you’re drowning and like the sun will never break through the darkness surrounding your heart.
Maybe the only thing that will carry you through is the hope that one day, when the wound has healed, you’ll be able to recall your first love and recognize all the necessary lessons you learned through it. Maybe you’ll be able to remind yourself that you faced heartache head-on, and you refused to let it harden you. You chose to stay soft at a time when it would have been easier to shut out the world, to stop caring about people.
You didn’t let heartbreak break you.