You Never Learn What “Love Hurts” Means Until It Happens To You

People talk about their first love all the time. Usually it’s a cute story. They meet in a coffee shop and talk about their favorite book or movie and date for months or even years. That’s how it’s supposed to go, right? Wrong.

Dating someone new is never really what you expect. There’s always surprises. We imagine our first loves from when we’re small and most of us expect sunshine and rainbows, but we forget that with rainbows comes the storm. I never dreamed that the first guy I would fall in love with wouldn’t love me back.

There was always something wrong with the guys I dated. It’s not that they were too skinny, too short — okay, well, maybe some of them. But our personalities didn’t match, we didn’t have the same sense of humor, had nothing in common, or there was no spark. No fire. No passion. Or if there was, it didn’t last long enough to make me really feel anything. I dated around. I left when I got bored. I left when I didn’t feel the spark. I left when I felt anything less than I deserved. And yeah, maybe I bruised some egos. I probably hurt some feelings. But that’s the way the world works, right?

There was always something wrong, something that didn’t feel right. And then I met this guy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely things wrong with this guy. Lots of things. He’s overly sarcastic. He never lets loose. He has a tough time in crowds. That last one is kind of cute actually. But this guy. He was like me. He just wanted to date around, have fun. And that’s what I wanted. That was the plan. And I tried so hard. I fought to keep my having fun mentality. But despite my constant efforts, I fell. I fell hard and he didn’t catch me. I fell for the way his soft hair falls across his head, inviting me to come play with it. I fell for the way his eyes turn pink because they’ve been closed for a long time when we’ve been kissing. I fell for the dimples that appear when his hard-to-get smile would slowly stretch across his face despite his attempts to be oh so serious. I fell for the way that he laughs when I tell a joke no one else gets and I fell for the way I would always win his card in Cards for Humanity because I know what gets his funny bone. I fell for the way he can make me blush just by looking at me.

But most of all, I fell for the way he didn’t fall for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the hard-to-get girl. I wasn’t playing hard to get, I just was. I was used to having all the power. But this time was different. I was powerless, and I couldn’t do anything about it. He crept his way into my mind with his mysterious eyes and subtle conversation. And then I couldn’t forget him. It was infuriating. I was pretty sure he wanted me, but he played it so cool, how was I to know? I didn’t know what to do with him. He was a challenge and I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. I kept telling myself that fun was all I wanted, that I was moving soon and this was really the best thing for me. But he consumed me. He was the air I wanted to breathe everyday and the song I wanted to listen to all night. I couldn’t have just fun.

I ignored all of the warning signs. Believe me, they were there. He would go days without texting me, and most of the time he only wanted to hang out at night. He told me he didn’t like to “tie people down.” Deep down, I knew he meant himself, but I couldn’t kiss goodbye to the guy I finally felt I had a real connection with, a spark. So I stayed with him. He told me he wasn’t seeing anyone else, and neither was I. But I would tell myself that I’m not dating other guys for someone who doesn’t want to call me his girlfriend, who won’t take me out on dates, who won’t tell me I’m beautiful, and who won’t kiss me hello or tell me good night. I knew I deserved better, I still know it. But you don’t understand it unless you’ve been in it. He was intoxicating. And I wanted him, all of him. But he didn’t want all of me.

I like to think that he does love me. He’s just not ready to let love into his life. He has this wall up that he won’t let down, and I can’t force myself through it. I like to think he’s just scared. Because how can you love someone like this, and have them not love you back? I would like to think that doesn’t happen. But deep down, I know that if he really cared, he would somehow find the courage to say so.

Everyone’s got baggage. Everyone has or will someday have that person that puts a crack in their heart and a bruise in their ego. He’s mine. And he’s going to be hard to forget.

How do you even tell “I love you” to someone who doesn’t love you back? Should you? When I dreamed of love, I only thought of happy things. Holding hands, cuddling during the holidays, cute piggyback rides. But now I know the truth.

Love hurts. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Marie Zucker

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