Why Your Last Love Is More Important Than Your First Love

The human heart is a magnificent thing.

One minute you can feel absolutely lost, breathless and like your heart is about to split in two over heartbreak. You don't know how you're going to move on, or even make it through the day.

But somehow, someway, you make it through the day. Soon enough, a week has passed. Then the next minute, you don't even know how you fit the other person in your heart.

When I look back over the past year, I've had enough changes to give me whiplash. I can give the cliché advice and agree that yes, everything that I have done or the paths I have chosen have led me to where I am right now.

People make a big fuss about your "firsts" when growing up: your first walk, your first word, your first lost tooth.

When we reach puberty and start to realize the opposite sex exists, our life is all about a set of new firsts: first kiss, first dance, first time you held hands and your "first time."

One of the most beautiful and tragic experiences that defines your life is your first love. It's beautiful because everything is new. You're experiencing a new kind of love, a new set of emotions and trust in someone not in your family. First love is great.

But first love also leads to that cry-your-heart-out-until-you-can't breathe, eat-a-gallon-of-ice cream aching breakup and loss that you've also never experienced. No, a breakup is never a party. However, the first breakup with your first love might be one of the most painful experiences that any human has to go through. Some of us don't ever get over it. Our lives are filled with watching movies and TV shows that idealize love, but never show the real thing. With our rose-colored glasses on, we believe our first love is the "end all, be all." When it ends, it's absolutely gut-wrenching.

We carry that baggage from one relationship to the next in hopes of someone "curing us" from our pass ailments.

Don't get me wrong; sometimes that first love does work out. These rare exceptions to this rule is a beautiful thing. However, you can argue that you fall in and out of love with this person. By the time you grow from adolescent to adult, 20 years old to 30, you are not the same person. If you still love your first love, you know it required work and communication.

You may or may not love the second and third person you date, but they will be someone you let into your life. They will teach you things about yourself and about dating that you didn't know about with the other person. They will make you smile, make you laugh again and will dull the baggage of that once-requited love. Your insecurities that were turned on after your first love slowly start to diminish, and you start to feel like yourself again.

Everything happens for a reason. Every person that you encounter, every person you date, comes into your life and teaches you a lesson. Your first love is called just that because it is part of a series of "firsts." I have cooked many dishes in my life, and the first time wasn't always pretty. It was an experience, but I'm not going to stop eating steak because the first time I cooked it, it was too well done. When your first love doesn't work, it's because it's generally your first and not your last.

Your last love is someone you should truly cherish. Everyone always talks about the "one that got away." I say that's bullsh*t.

I was so in love with the idea of a first love that I started dating my first love 10 years later. I fell in love with the story of "us," and believed that he was my end all, be all. Yet, after a year and a half of trying to make it work, we both realized we didn't love each other, we weren't who we wanted to be with and we had very different goals. He had tried to change me to make me more of a Mad Men-esque '60s housewife, and I was too busy reminding him that women were allowed "crazy things" like goals and opportunities.

So yeah, I'm not all about idea of the "first love."

It was only when my second love came along that I started to realize how much better love is when you truly know yourself. Everyone has their own baggage. In fact, I believe our baggage makes us interesting. When my second love came around, I had given up on relationships. I had decided that I would be faithful to my dreams and careers, and that I would be too busy to find a guy. In fact, to prove that I was too busy, I got a dog.

So, when this one came around, I wasn't expecting it. But, it's not to say I wasn't prepared. Your first love gives you insight into relationships. It provides you with caution and stability so you're not knocked off kilter the next time.

The second time around, you know what to expect. You know what to look for in someone you want to be with. You have the confidence to know what you want and know what you deserve. The relationship helps you prove to yourself that you can open up again, and you can find something truly amazing. It won't exhaust you, be filled with drama and unsettle you. Because you've already been through the ringer, you know the warning signs.

And soon, your heart will slowly heal from the baggage and the bruising of your first love. It'll be bursting with happiness, and all your past caution will flee.

And like with any recipe that you try, practice only leads to perfection. My old well done steak will never happen again, and now I can enjoy my medium rare perfection.

Forget about firsts. Learn from them, but don't let them engulf your future decisions.

The human heart is a magnificent thing.