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Ask Jono: Can First Love Be a Bad Thing?

Ask Jono: Can First Love Be a Bad Thing?

Dear Jono,

I'm not looking for advice—more for answers and hopefully some kind of consolation from one more worldly wise. I read an article on love. (Granted, it was from the Daily Mail...) (Bad English newspaper) It said that we'd be better off never experiencing first love at all, because it's so strong that nothing else is ever as good after, and the expectations made by first love can't be met in succeeding partnerships. Being a completely inexperienced young romantic, I was totally horrified by this. Is life that grim? Is a flicker of aching happiness followed by a lifetime of dull sexual negotiations all I have to look forward to?

Ease my woeful soul Jono with your sweet advisory lullabies
(You're fab.)
- A

True story: when I first look at a letter-writer's question, I write a little outline of stuff I want to say so I don't forget any of my initial impressions later. Literally all I wrote for this one was "ahahha" because I don't even need an outline to explode this silly lie with my truth bombs.

Oh man, The Daily Mail. See if you can guess which of these are actual Daily Mail headlines, and which ones I made up:

A.) Women Finally Learn How To Boil An Egg Only When They Are 55 Years Old
B.) Women Who Want To Succeed At Work Should Show More Cleavage
C.) Women Who Want To Succeed At Work Should Shut Up
D.) Aaaargh I Hate Women So Much, Also I Live Under A Bridge And Eat Billy Goats

(Answer: A and C are real headlines, B is made up but is probably something they've said before, and D is extremely made up while still being pretty accurate.)

The Daily Mail has a history of being ridiculous, and I could spend all day showing you cases where they either express some terrible opinion or completely misrepresent a scientific study, so you have to consider your source here. On top of that, even if a headline like this comes from a paper that didn't literally support Hitler, you have to keep in mind that all websites benefit from phrasing things in the most sensational way possible. If some scientists do a study on white mice demonstrating that a new drug inhibits the growth of cancer cells, you can bet that someone will report it as "Insane Maniacs Stab Animals To Death With 'Science' Scalpels, On Your Tax Dollars!"

But let's forget all that for a minute and look at the claim itself. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, it is absolutely 100% not true. I have definitely experienced stronger feelings than my first love, and I'm not even counting all of the dumb stuff that I thought was love, back when I would turn my head and develop a fleeting crush on whatever girl-shaped object was in the room at the time. When I look back on my first actual, requited love, I don't think, "Nothing will ever be that amazing again!! Welp, time to shoot myself in the brain." I remember it as something that was great, and made me happy at the time, and that's about it.

But I'll do you one better: let's assume that this headline came from the Daily Truth-Telling Gazette of Non-Lies, and that my experience was atypical because I was a malfunctioning teenage dork (not much of a stretch). Let's assume that other people really do feel like nothing lives up to their first love. If that's true, it's not the actual first love they're missing, it's youth. It's the "first" part, not the "love" part, that makes subsequent relationships less exciting. Adults constantly romanticize what it was like to be your age. They remember being in love without having to worry about bills and work and car payments, but they forget the lack of freedom and the fact that you have to remember which part of a triangle does what or you fail out of school.

First love is fun; I'm not denying that part. But it also doesn't require a whole lot of responsibility. Instead of living together, and learning to compromise with each other, and putting up with each other even on bad days, you can pretty much say "Well it sure was fun kissing you on the face all of those times! Now I will go back to my bed, inside of my dad's house, which he pays for." Please don't assume I'm trivializing the relationships you guys experience; you get trivialized enough by upstanding bastions of journalism such as the Daily Mail. I'm just saying that sacrifice is one of the things that gives a relationship meaning, and first love doesn't usually require a lot of sacrifice.

To answer your question: no, life is not a grim procession of emotionless snogs, where you stand there kissing robotically and thinking "Oh man, I wish I were 16 again or dead." It's a process of growing up—and, if you're emotionally healthy, looking back on the past with a reasonable amount of nostalgia, not through crazy-person goggles. You have a lot to look forward to. (Hopefully "a better newspaper" is among that lot.)

Topics: Life
Tags: media, love, advice, ask jono, the daily mail, first love

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