My first love was a practice run

My first love was a practice run

Once, I believed in soulmates.

And I harboured a little dream of first love being the only love.

My first love was often a tumultuous one. It was inevitable really, a couple of insecure, introspective teenagers. At times, it was beautiful. At times, we soared. But I often tried to imagine us together, with a family, in 10 or 20 years. And I never could.

I don’t doubt that there are couples who meet the one and marry their first, true love. But that was never going to happen for us. I – we – had so much to learn. I did not have very good role models, relationship-wise, growing up. I felt…yes, I felt…that was never the problem…but I could not express. Words backed up, trapped somewhere in my brain, unable to make it through to my vocal cords and escape into the atmosphere. Words that needed to be spoken and heard, were never uttered.

I had to reconcile what I’d learned of love through books with the reality of a living, breathing relationship. To add to these internal issues, there were external, familial conflicts.

How does one learn to love? How does one learn the art of romance?

I grew up with parents who did not touch each other or call each other by name.

Of the things I learned at home, I do not feel nurturing a healthy relationship was one of them.

First love for me was a practice run. To get my first taste of arguing (occasionally in a healthy way, but mostly not), of reconciliation, of compromise, of loyalty, of demonstrativeness.

Today, many things come naturally. Saying “I love you” multiple times a day. A goodbye kiss in the morning. I will not judge my parents’ relationship – particularly as I no longer observe them on an everyday basis –  but I know I want to continue to be the couple who go on date nights. Who always sleep in the same bed. Who respect each other. Who takes the time to cut his love’s steak into manageable chunks. Who knows her love, like a puppy, likes nothing better than belly-rubs, and obliges. Who wipe food from each other’s faces. Who playfight in the supermarket. Who do the hip bump while walking along the footpath, just because.

Without that first taste, I would be a completely different person today.  I would still be struggling to relate to others in the most basic of ways. I would still retreat into silence at the first sign of conflict, my throat and mind closing up, sealing my thoughts away. I would not have the confidence that rests in the knowledge that once, someone else loved me. And that one day, others could, too. Bigger, better, bolder.

Second love does not have the same fairytale ring to it, but life is rarely so kind.

19 thoughts on “My first love was a practice run

  • Reply Stephanie February 14, 2011 at 11:17

    This is beautiful. I agree, sometimes it takes some learning, some trial and error, before you find the right one. And you have to learn how to be in a relationship, which is always an interesting adjustment.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Reply Will February 14, 2011 at 12:15

    Well written post! Even though your first love didn’t exactly work out for you, being able to look back and draw lessons from it definitely enables you to learn more about yourself and experience personal growth. All of which can definitely become useful in the future. Happy Valentine’s day!

  • Reply gem February 14, 2011 at 12:52

    Mm, my dad died when I was young and I always blamed my inability to be in a good relationship on that fact. I never got to see a functioning relationship. I’m great at friendships, just like my mom, and I’m great at a lot of other things in life, but when it comes to romantic relationships, I flounder like nobody’s business… but you learned how to do it and perhaps one day I can learn too! Teach me, sensei!

  • Reply pushingthirtyy February 15, 2011 at 04:07

    I love this. You’ve inspired me to reflect more on my past loves. Happy vday!

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  • Reply Cassie February 19, 2011 at 12:27

    Awww. That little bit about the hip bump on the footpath made me smile. My parents had a healthy affectionate relationship, but I can assure you that my first love wasn’t my soul mate. Neither was my second, third or fourth. I can only hope that one day I end up with someone who wants to hip bump their way down the footpath with me.

    Cute post 🙂

  • Reply SS4BC March 15, 2011 at 17:24

    One quote I’ll never forget: “The magic of the first love is our ignorance that it will ever end.”

    My first love was also a huge learning experience. More than how to fight/argue/love/etc, I learned who I was in a relationship. What I get jealous of, when I overreact, when I don’t talk (when I should).

    Now, I’m on #3. Hey – third time’s the charm, right? 😉

  • Reply Jaime March 15, 2011 at 21:35

    My bf and I are each others firsts. We both met online at this forum where I complained about being a virgin. He responded to my post and sympathized with me. Anyway it took off from there, we had an online friendship and then after 3 1/2 years we decided to meet, eventually I moved in with him and we’ve been dating for about 2 years now.

    Its really funny how we became each others firsts. Sometimes it does work out that way for the most part it doesn’t. We both met in our mid twenties and we both had our reasons for not having dated people. My bf’s problem was shyness and he’s also extremely picky.

    I saw my mom go from marriage to marriage and relationship to relationship. I didn’t want to end up like that, so I never dated anyone as a teen and I didn’t want to date until I had found the right person. I’m just happy I found him even if it was in my mid-twenties and even if it took that long to experience what most people experience earlier in life.

    Oh well. I knew I didn’t want to be like my mom or my friends who went from relationship to relationship. I don’t believe in soul mates, I think in our case it was serendipity. Right place, right time.

    Our relationship is a healthy and happy one, sure we argue from time to time, growing up with my mom and seeing what she went through I never thought I’d ever have a happy relationship as an adult. I’m glad that I gave it a shot.

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  • Reply Kelly July 31, 2011 at 04:36

    This is an awesome, awesome post and I can totally relate to it. Both my “first love” and I had good role models, but we simply weren’t mature enough to handle that serious of a relationship. We had a lot of fun, some lows as well- but I can’t picture us together now. Instead I’m happily married to my second love, and it couldn’t have worked out better as far as I’m concerned 🙂

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