Your first love and first kiss; if separate, discuss both.
The kiss is easy. When dropping me off after junior prom, my date laid one on me, with the all the finesse of a dorky, overeager 16 year old. Meaning it was abrupt, bumbling, and disappointingly mediocre. In fact, I remember thinking to myself, and this is what all the fuss is about? Worse, I tried to make an expeditious if awkward retreat into the house, and discovered to my abject horror that my parents had accidentally locked me out.
The whole experience was so off-putting that I didn’t give it another go until college. The second one was with a tall, blonde, study-abroad-student from England. Be still my beating heart; that accent. Thankfully this was the knee melting, mind numbing, heart pounding experience I was hoping for the first time around.
First love, that’s a little more difficult. While a number of boys had caught my eye throughout the junior high years, my first heavy duty, lasting crush was the aforementioned prom date. The absolute lack of chemistry cured that for me. Cold turkey.
I’m struggling to define “love” for this purpose. There’s puppy love, unrequited love, selfish love, convenient love, selfless love… Often I find that it’s difficult to define until it’s over. (Unrequited aside. That’s wretchedly discernible in the moment.) Sometimes it becomes apparent that what you think is love was something else again when you toss aside the rose tinted glasses of infatuation and view things with the honest clarity of hindsight.
Post divorce I spent a lot of time analyzing my relationships, not just the failed marriage but every romantic entanglement I had since that first, blundering kiss. And when I say “analyzing” I really mean frenetically scrutinizing every detail. Successes, failures, disappointments, blame, causality, shortcomings, strengths… I obsessed over it all in an effort to understand how I got to where I was.
The first time I offered up the L-Word was to my first live-in boyfriend. However, looking back I’m not sure I was truly in love. It was convenient and provided a much needed anchor during a time when I was adrift and rudderless. After that came a string of guys, a few who got the L-Word, more who didn’t. (Hey. Not that long of a string, lest you get erroneous ideas about me.)
All that introspection and it came down to this: my ex-husband was my first real love; a love where I gave of myself wholly and unconditionally. (Which is probably why I married him.) Never mind that he proved that he was undeserving of what I offered. In fairness, it wasn’t all bad. We had some good times; there were days where he made me feel special. I learned a lot and had invaluable experiences. However, at the end of the day, the reality was that I loved him far more than he loved me.
Excuse the Taylor Swift lyrics but:
I used to think that the only thing he loved was himself. However, I’ve come to understand that there’s a huge difference between narcissism and loving yourself. The egocentric seek validation externally, as opposed to finding happiness, acceptance, and peace within. I used to hate him for it; now there’s only pity.
I can only hope that wasn’t my one great love affair…