I had always been someone that struggled to believe that I’d ever experience love. Growing up gay in a conservative city in Southern Ontario does that to you.
I remember going to high school and university watching my friends fall in love and asking myself when I’d ever experience that. I used to watch romance movies all the time because it gave me a sense of what love could be like. I don’t know, there’s just something about watching Ryan Gosling look into Rachel McAdams eyes that just gets me.
When I decided to make the move to Vancouver in 2014 I was excited for a new chapter in my life. I viewed it as an opportunity for me to be independent, challenge myself and hopefully meet someone in a new environment. All those things happened.
It took me until I was 21 to fall in love for the first time. I remember meeting the man I fell for on a frigid day in January 2016. We met at a train station and ended up going for a dinner at a local restaurant. He was tall, well dressed, had beautiful brown eyes and a smile that could light up a room.
We dated for almost two years and in that period of my life, I learned more about myself than I ever thought I would.
I am someone who struggles with anxiety and trusting others. So, putting myself in a vulnerable situation and allowing myself to fall was the scariest thing I had ever experienced. However, what made it easier was knowing that he was doing the same thing.
As days to turned to months I felt as if I really started to understand what love meant. To live for something greater than yourself was new for me and I enjoyed it. I liked the idea of waking up next to someone every morning and understanding the impact that you are having in their life.
He taught me to think outside the box and believe in myself. For a long time, I had been closed off with my feelings and often struggled to tell people how anxious I truly was. I’m one of those people that will always think worst case scenario and second guess any decision I make.
The only decision I had never doubted was falling in love with him.
As the seasons continued to change so did our relationship. Through all the adventures and loving times, we became comfortable. We had both taken on promotions in our workplaces, which caused us to become busier. Instead of focusing on us throughout the duration of our relationship, we decided to put our feelings on the backburner because we had trusted our relationship. Big mistake.
I noticed a shift in our relationship and should have trusted my gut. A part of me thought we were just going through a ‘faze’ and things would get better. We stopped doing date nights. Evenings in bed turned to silence with both of us sleeping back to back. Mornings turned into rushing out the door for work without a kiss goodbye.
I’ll never forget the day we decided to go our separate ways. I remember the moment that he looked me in the eye and told me that he could no longer be with me. His eyes full of tears and his lips trembling. I had to force it out of him because he couldn’t say it.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from falling in love for the first time is the importance of trusting your gut and communicating. When I started to notice the shift in my relationship I should have addressed it instead of pushing it aside. I hadn’t believed that it would be possible for us to fall apart because I was that in love with him. Had we addressed our problems sooner than things may have been different.
Over the course of the next 30 days to come, I remained strong. I am so blessed to have the most supportive and understanding friends and family I could ever ask for. Within five days I had found a new place to live in Downtown Vancouver, within 15 I had rented our old apartment and within 30 I had hung the first piece of art in what would become my new home. It was a reminder that I could make it on my own.
Falling in love for the first time was the most amazing, yet painful thing I had ever experienced. I learned more about myself during that time than I ever thought I would. He taught me what it means to be loved and how to love. He taught me the importance of letting go and following your heart. Most importantly, I learned that I could make it on my own.
I have no regrets nor resentment. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and falling in love teaches you more about life then any book you can pick up in a store.
As I begin the next chapter of my life I’m happy I’m not alone. I have the most amazing little puppy in the entire world who will always be a symbol that good things happen when you take a chance and refuse to look back. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first love. And I never want to.
Oh, and for the record, love is so much greater than what’s portrayed in the movies.