3 Years After Meeting My First Love

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I’ve only been in love once. I don’t know if in 5 years, I’ll look back on it and still call it love, but for now––that’s what it is to me.

I think I’m over it. I can think about him without crying. I can dream about him and wake up smiling. I can date guys with the same name without my heart aching.

But after every heartbreak, I think about him. I still miss him, although I’ve accepted that we’ll never be together again.

I constantly try to convince myself that it can’t be love because it wasn’t reciprocal. He said so himself that he didn’t feel the same way about me. I never told him that I loved him. I never even thought I loved him.

But I know whatever I felt for him was so raw and pure and still can’t compare it to anything I’ve felt in my relationships after him.

My friends tell me the look on my face when I talk about him is too different from the way I talk about any other man who’s walked in and out of my life.

I don’t know if I put up with all the anxiety and uncertainty because I was younger and didn’t know what I wanted. I don’t know if I loved him because despite all of the obstacles we faced, it was the most consistent relationship I’ve ever had, and the first chance of ever having one.

But I do know the moment I fell in love:

I was on a plane to California and thinking about him the whole time.

I would be gone for only 4 days, but he asked me to stay because he was grieving the loss of his friend. We spent the night together, I asked him to tell me stories of his favorite memories of them together. He showed me pictures, he laughed.

He wasn’t the emotional type of person, and he had told me before that he never really liked to deal with death, but he seemed relieved to be able to get it all out.

My flight was the same day as the funeral.

As I was landing, we texted each other at the same time. I texted him a song that I listened to the whole flight because it made me think about him, he texted me about what he was doing with his friends to commemorate the one he’d just lost. He said although I didn’t know his friend, he wanted me to know that he would be happy.

I spent the whole car ride back to my house in California, then the next two days crying.

He asked me to stay. I wanted to be there for him.

Since then, I’ve always wanted to be that emotional rock for someone. I want to be there for someone, and for them to know I really care. I know I can’t fix someone, and I’m not the solution to all their emotional baggage, but the way I felt when I got that text made me come to the realization that I deeply cared about him in a way I didn’t know I had.

We didn’t end because I wasn’t there for him. (Like I said, he told me he didn’t feel the same way––so, it had to end). But I always think back to this moment when I think about love.

A short-term breakup I just had hit harder than any relationship I’ve had and it made me wonder if I loved this guy, or if I was hurting because I was still honeymooning. Verdict: I didn’t know him enough to love him.

But it brought me back to this moment and to thinking about this person. It’s weird to think that after almost 2 years of not speaking to each other, I still care a lot about him. I still want the best for him. I still think about him almost every day.

While we can probably never be friends, he is so special to me. Our relationship was the furthest thing from a perfect, healthy relationship, but I’m so grateful that I got to experience love because of him.