As I sit down to write this article, Taylor Swift’s voice rings in my head: “We were both young when I first saw you.” She perfectly captures what it is to be young and in love. But what happens after the “Love Story” ends?
We all find our first love special and unique, full of complex emotions, simultaneously pleasant and negative. Regardless of how wonderful or awful the experience is, your first love impacts how you approach future relationships, even if you aren't aware of it.
My life used to be simple, but after I met him, it was forever complicated. The first special person. The first person I fell in love with. The first person who held my hand. The first person I said “I love you” to. My first kiss. My first taste of romance. My first most innocent love. My first pain. My first heartbreak. My first everything.
We knew of each other since we were 12 or 13 years of age. However, we never interacted. I “officially” met him at 15 in high school. I didn’t find him special at first, but as time went on, I felt something that I had never felt before… a chemical reaction exploding in my mind: something called chemistry.
Eventually, my feelings became impossible to hide, and I was forced to admit that yes, I did like him. As expected, everyone found out about my secret, and it spread to the whole school. The guy rejected me as he “only saw me as his friend.” I felt embarrassed, and worst of all, our dynamic shifted. Some people derided me for being foolish. Even after the humiliation and rejection, I encouraged myself to continue my friendship with him. This took a lot of courage since I was a shy, soft-spoken, and gloomy loner in high school, while he was the complete opposite.
Fortunately, we had a great time! We talked more than we used to. As summer rolled around, he finally met my friends, and we spent time together outside of the school for the first time. I sensed a change in his feelings, and knew I had to take action. So I kissed him! Yes! I am just as shocked as you are. At first, I thought he would lean away, but instead, he asked me for another kiss. I was excited. I had my very first kiss with the person I liked for so long.
I thought things were going well until he decided to reject me (again). I still recall the text he sent me when I got home: “hey, I appreciate your love and your kiss, but it’s better to keep our friendship.” He broke my heart even harder than the first time. I cried almost every day. I couldn’t sleep. I was depressed. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. My friends were the only ones who cheered me up, but the pain was always there. As I was a neophyte in this young love, I had no idea how painful it was to be rejected.
After summer ended, we had to keep seeing each other in school. I kept talking to him like nothing happened and remained his best friend as he wanted me to be. I constantly noticed him talking sweetly to other girls, and I felt frustrated and paralyzed. Watching him flirting from afar, I fought to keep our “friendship” alive. But I was suffering a lot internally, and I couldn’t tell him my feelings for fear of losing him. I became lachrymose almost every night thinking about the things he said that hurt me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from my mistake, and continued confessing my feelings for him. Each rejection was more painful than the last. One year had passed, and I was still in love with the same guy. Knowing it was time to give up, I tried forcing myself to forget about him, but I couldn’t. The heart wants what it wants. And his heart didn’t want me. I was extremely tired of the same pain that happened over and over again from the same person.
I chased him for one year straight and kept doing it the next year, until one day, I told him that I was moving soon. I didn’t know this at first, but later on, he confessed that he cried after hearing that news from me. I started noticing he treated me differently. Most people thought we were dating, but we weren’t. Yet, our actions were very flirtatious. He caused me so much confusion and doubt.
A long time later, we went on a field trip, where we kissed again after a long while. But this time, he wanted to kiss me first. I thought that he was finally going to like me back and realize everything I had done for him. After the field trip, a rumor started spreading, and lots of people told me that he was just playing with my feelings.
I was devastated and fell back to the same depression. I couldn’t hold my tears back anymore and cried in public for the first time. I felt betrayed. I felt I meant nothing to him, a pawn in his little flirty games. Again, he told me he only wanted to be my friend and nothing else. I simply didn’t reply to his messages anymore, although he kept texting me.
This time, however, he seemed to express remorse for causing me pain. Over time, I took my space and eventually decided to forgive him… but I didn’t forget. I officially gave up on his love.
After I decided to stay as his friend, we spoke a few days later, and he seemed sad after what happened. He apologized to me, and I forgave him. Even so, I still kept my distance from him. As I asserted new boundaries, he started doing what I used to do: He chased me. I tried to ignore him, but the more I ignored him, the more he followed me. I have to admit it: I felt cared for and loved by him for the first time. I was unsure how things were going to end up. I let things flow naturally forward in whatever was going to happen.
Until we became a couple out of the blue. We started dating, and he finally confessed all his love and repentance. He realized that I was the only person who truly cared and the person who stayed Ioyal and true to him. I finally held the guy’s hand that I loved so much. We went through many things together— both moments I wish to forget and truly unforgettable moments. I fell even more in love with him. I loved him more than anything else.
We were so young at the time, but our mutual love was real. After two and half years, he decided to end our romantic relationship. We didn’t have a happy ending like in movies, and we went on different paths. It took me a whole year to heal from our breakup. We never spoke again after that. He found his second love soon after and seems happy. The moment I realized he moved on before I did, I felt anguish. I guess we weren’t meant to be. However, I became stronger and found my peace again. And I wish him nothing but the utmost happiness.
It’s been five years since the last time I saw him. Even today, some things remind me of him. Looking back, it was really innocent, pure and the most uniquely intense experience I ever had. Today I am attached to the intensity of the memory, which reminds me of my youth. It wasn’t a fairy tale; there were lots of painful moments. But I don’t regret a single one. A broken heart doesn’t mean the love wasn’t real.
I wrote a couple of poems that were inspired by my first love. I always thought that if something hurts, just turn it into music, poetry, or art, but never let it sit inside. Never blame yourself for feeling the pain of love. It’s often unavoidable, created by a magical chemistry with someone. This person can heal you, and hurt you, more than anyone else. Sometimes this unique experience catapults you into unparalleled growth. Years later, I still consider my first relationship with him to be special. Despite our rocky ending, I still believe in the innocent, genuine love we shared. I can confidently say I have healed, but that doesn’t mean that I forgot. This first love will forever remain in my memories, and in my heart.
Do you have a first love memory you’d like to share? Feel free to tell your story in the comments!
Written by: Stefanny Leung Yu