I fell in love for the first time when I was 21. It was young and unrequited, and I knew we weren’t a good fit. I knew it didn’t make sense. But I had the hardest time letting him go. He was, after all, my first love.
Our first loves are always the hardest to let go.
It is the most stubborn version of love, our first encounter with one of the most elusive and fundamental components of human existence. It is our initial meeting with that feeling we have been hearing about from the greatest love songs since we were young, that beautiful, mysterious thing we get to only share with another beating heart. And once you have it, it’s hard to remember life before it. It’s hard to imagine living without it.
But often, we will end up having to live without them because our first love is merely that: our first. They do not become our last love. They do not grow up and old with us. We do not marry them. We break up. Sometimes, we even realize they were never ours to begin with. And once we start seeing the love unravel, we tend to fall apart too.
And as we crumble, we try and piece ourselves together with shards of hope that we’ll get back together with this person, or that this person will finally see what we could be all along. Our hearts remain tangled in these ideas of reconciliation and love, but here’s the truth:
We do not win them back. They move on.
And we move on eventually as well, but not without struggle. Our first love is the most difficult to break free from because they were the one who taught us what love meant and we associate love with everything that made us fall for them.
For a while, we will compare everyone new to our First Big Love. The looks, the feelings, the characteristics. We’ll go on dates and realize that the new people we try and love will laugh at different things. They will feel differently. Kiss differently. Love differently. And we may reject our first few shots at starting over because it did not look like what love was to us or what it was in the beginning. But here’s the thing:
The same love does not come back twice.
What we shared with our First Big Love does not transfer to our next. Instead, it will be with different eyes that will see you more, different hands that will hold yours tighter than the first. A different heart that beats to an unfamiliar rhythm, but one you will soon memorize and dance along to as you do with one of your favorite songs.
So yes, our first loves are the hardest to recover from and are the most difficult to let go. After all, they showed us what love can be.
They taught us that we could feel so deeply and that we could love at all.
And while first love may have taught us all of these lessons, our second love teaches something even more important:
No matter what happens, what ends, or how many times our heart breaks, we can, and always will, be able to love again. Love may leave, but it always comes back. Always.