Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Afraid I'll Never Feel the Way I Felt About My First Love
About eight months ago, my ex and I broke up. He was suffering from a pretty bad depression (it hadn't been so bad at the beginning of the relationship and slowly got worse, due to troubling life circumstances), and we decided it was best for us to split, as he wasn't really in any condition for a relationship. Aside from this, his depression had made him act pretty nastily towards me and he was constantly making me feel stupid/ horrible/ etc., which he eventually realized and (obviously) didn't want to do.
Since then, I've really tried to move on. I'd been with him for a year and we'd known and been AMAZING friends for the longest time. He was the first person I really ever opened up to and vice versa, and I was (am? ugh) really in love with him. I've had another boyfriend since then but it was super short (a month) and it was nothing like the first ex.
So the problem: I'm terrified that I'm never going to feel for somebody else again the way I did for the first ex. I really want to. I know for a fact that if, for whatever reason, I got back with the first ex it would end up in disaster, so that's not what I want, but I'm so scared that I won't be able to be as amazing friends AND love a guy like that in the future. I know that I'm probably just speaking from what I feel right now (I'm a senior in high school, not the end of the world right?) and it'll probably change in the future, right? Maybe? It's been almost a year since the breakup and I still tear up about it if I think about it too much, still feel things for him, and I just really wish I could tell myself that I'll get over him someday, but I'm really starting to get scared that it won't happen.
The bad news, Sparkler, is this: you're right. You will never feel exactly the same way for anyone else as you did for your first love.
But then again, you will also never feel exactly the same way for anyone else as you will for your second, third, fourth, or fifth loves.
And that's not because you'll never get over Love #1, or because you have a finite capacity for passion, or because you can't be deeply in love with an amazing friend more than once in your lifetime. It's because every relationship is unique. And your next romance won't be some kind of consolation prize in the absence of the first one; it will be smarter, happier, and healthier because of the lessons you learned the first time around. This guy was your first love, but he won't be your best. That distinction will go to a person whose life hasn't been overtaken by depression, who's capable of being a engaged, giving, loving boyfriend, and who, instead of making you feel stupid and small on a regular basis, treats you like the sun itself shines directly out of your posterior parts.
Which is also an important thing to remember: that this relationship, the one you're so worried you won't be able to replicate? It had serious, fatal flaws. You weren't happy in it, and you weren't treated well. And it failed, as it was meant to, because you two were not good for each other. So while you can certainly look forward to experiencing an intimate connection again, you should also be looking forward to the things about your next relationship that won't mirror this one. You're terrified that you won't feel for someone else the way you did for this guy, but this guy made you feel terrible, on guard, and off balance. Don't fall into the trap of believing that real romance is an emotional rollercoaster of dysfunctional highs and lows. There's a difference between passion and intensity, and it's important to remember that real love—the kind that lasts and makes you happy—can often be a much quieter, easier, more contented thing.
Meanwhile, it's normal and natural that you haven't been able to move on just yet; not least because you're still clinging so hard to the love you felt for your ex, because you're afraid that if you let it go, you won't feel that way again. You're not in a position to look forward to what's ahead of you, when you're so focused on what you're leaving behind; you haven't set yourself adrift in a way that allows you to get over him. And at this moment in your life, with senior year about to end and a future that's one big question mark, you certainly aren't the only person seeking solace in memories and known quantities—and maybe it'll take another few months, until you've officially moved on to a big, new, exciting life beyond high school, before you can let go, look ahead, and see all of the incredible things still in store for you. But eventually, you'll get there. You'll have so many amazing friends who you just haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet, and you'll have more opportunities to fall in love than you can possibly imagine. Some of them will be wonderful, and some of them will be terrible, and all of them will be utterly unique. Hang in there, kiddo. It's going to be great.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.