I was never that girl. I never pictured my wedding, or fantasized about a husband, or dreamed about being a Mrs. So-and-so. I dreamed about being a lawyer, or a cardiologist. I had crushes, but I couldn’t for the life of them get them to notice me. And if they did notice me, it’s because I was insanely and utterly creepy towards them (sorry, Jerry).
I had my first “real” boyfriend in seventh grade. And I thought I was in love with him and that I’d marry him and all that jazz. Same with my sophomore year boyfriend. But they came and went and after a couple months, I’d move on and I wouldn’t even miss them.
My junior year, I switched schools. I asked my friend who went there, and who the “big men on campus” were. She mentioned a guy I went to grade school with and this other boy. Ironically, I met the “other boy” at a party that weekend, and I did my very best to blow him off in an attempt to knock his ego down to size. But the boy knew the game, and he knew it well. I was no match.
I fell and I fell hard. And for the first eight months it was something out of an ABC family movie: nominations for homecoming court, kissing on the football field after games, walking each other to class, and passing notes in between. For the first time in my life, I felt normal. I felt stereotypical. I felt my age. Then college admission time came. That was the beginning of the next two years which would be a hectic, dramatic, on-off nightmare. However, even though things got bad, when we were good, we were still really, really good.
But in those three years, we’d both really messed up. He’d broken my heart a few times, and my trust, and I’d betrayed him in ways so shallow I’m still ashamed of them. The love was still there, but there was a pain now too. There were cracks in our perfect “high school sweetheart” armor.
Neither one of us would admit it. We tried to force long distance, balance different friend groups and lifestyles, and ignore all the shit we’d put each other through.
But we couldn’t. And that was just life.
I feel like our generation is so scared of emotional attachment due to being products of divorce, single-parents, infidelity, and numerous other relationship breakers that seem to be more prevalent in our parents generation than in any before them. We tend to care too much or too little, and there is an imbalance that leaves us thinking we either don’t need anyone, or we need the first person we fell for. We have continuously seen marriages and relationships fail, and the idea of loving one person forever isn’t a fairytale anymore, it’s a threat.
This is unhealthy, and this is a terrifying mindset. So I’ve penned some things we all (myself heavily included) need to remember about falling in love:
- Having emotional attachments is not a death sentence. Humans are social creatures. Whether we admit it or not we do depend on others for survival and wellness. This includes emotional wellness. Sometimes you’ll crush on someone who doesn’t feel the same way and that doesn’t mean you’re unlovable. It just means it wasn’t right.
- Do not put the people you love on pedestals. I made this mistake. I set an impossible standard of what I thought I needed and wanted, and when he didn’t meet that, I freaked out. Love is about accepting people for exactly who they are. This doesn’t mean lowering your standards, but do have realistic ones. As you grow older, what you look for in people will change, and that’s okay. But it is wiser and better (for both of you) to move on rather than try to force your changes onto someone else’s personality.
- You are only hurting yourself with the hookup culture. We’re young. It happens. You drink too much, or you want some sort of affection, or you think it’ll get them to like you. But at the end of the night, what? You’ve had meaningless sex. And although you may wake up next to someone, you’re still alone. Stop settling for sex, and start holding out for something else.
- If he’s a dick to you/If she’s a bitch to you, it’s not right. I strongly, strongly believe that even the douchiest of douches will be a sweetheart for the right girl, and the wildest of untamed women will settle down and stop playing games for the right boy. If you find yourself constantly trying to tame them and keep them focused on you, it’s not right. Let them go.
- You cannot force someone to love you. This is so important. Even if you’ve had history in the past. Even if you’re cute together. Even if you’re friends. Even if you’re there for them 24/7, and you have fun together, and you connect. Even if sometimes it seems like they might love you back. There is no amount of affection and adoration you can give someone to make them love you. Period.
- You cannot force yourself to love someone. Sometimes you know someone would be really good for you. You know they’d treat you well, and never hurt you, and they just get you. But if it’s not there, it’s not there. Do not force yourself to date them or spend time with them in hopes that one day you’ll just magically wake up in love. That will only hurt both of you.
- Let go of your past, and your parents’ past, too. Staying hung up on an ex only makes you miss out on new and amazing people that could change your life. Fearing love and relationships because your parents had a shitty marriage or you’ve seen love fail only ensures that you will fail too. We’ve learned that if we touch a hot stove, it burns, so we never touch a hot stove again. This is an adequate rule for stoves, but a shitty one for relationships. Refusing to love because you got hurt once or twice only ensures that you end up alone. Take a damn chance.
- More than one person can love you. I promise. Stop focusing on who you lost, and focus on who you have. I know friends and family aren’t the same as a significant other, but they love you. They’re there for you. They also get you. So focus on that. Focus on friends and family, because then you’ll be happy. And your happiness will be what causes someone else to notice you and fall for you.
- There is no such thing as “the one.” There is no emotional cap on the human heart. There is no law saying that there is only one person out there for you, and if you lose them or never find them it’s hopeless. You are more than capable of loving someone else. Multiple someone else’s. The only one limiting that is you. So stop.
- Love yourself. Your body responds to your thoughts. This is scientifically proven. If you think positive, and think you’re the shit, even if you don’t believe it at first, you will eventually start too. The mind is an amazing tool. It can heal itself. If you focus on loving yourself, you will never be discontent. People can come and go, and you will be strong enough in your self-worth to say, “thank your for the experience,” and move on.
This is a bit ranty, and if you actually read all of it, I’m impressed. Moral of the story: don’t trip on the past. What’s meant to be, will be. And life will surprise you. It will give you everything you need. Just make sure you don’t miss it by looking backwards.