I was a kid. The rumors of Prince Charming had me looking around every corner, waiting to be swept off my feet. When it happened, I thought I had the world in my palm. There was no end in sight to what I thought was eternal love and blissful happiness. Every nice act or smile was a treasure from a secret chest that only I had found. I stored them all, and I replayed them over and over in my mind. It was such a romantic love story, and baby, I said yes to my Romeo.
As my teenage years approached, it started to become less like a fairy tale and more like a soap opera. The drama unfolded, but I stayed in the little utopian world that I had made for us. We would stop talking, only for a week at first; we would bicker until the tension subsided and then there was smooth sailing once again. Each break lasted longer than the previous one. Yet, he kept coming back, so I kept believing in my vision of us together.
There were others in between our bouts of exclusivity. I learned from those partners as well. They either gave me hope for what I could teach my love to do, or they gave me reason to get back with my love. The experience of my first, tumultuous love trained me to keep seeing Prince Charming in each guy. If he had good in him, everyone did.
Society teaches us never to forget our first, to always have a spot for them. He and I kept that spot for too long.
Until we didn't.
I couldn't tell you what changed in him, and I couldn't tell you what made me give up. Maybe both of our stubborn attitudes finally did us some good by making sure one wouldn't talk to the other first. Our spiteful ending to that roller-coaster relationship got me accustomed to impending doom. How long will this last? I always thought until after a second date. They would all end. I knew it going into each fling.
On my 24th birthday, after being stood up by whatever Joe Shmoe was in my life,
I vowed to stop trying.
That's the night when my great love stepped in. With all my snarky sarcasm, my bruised heart, my shattered visions, and the constant downplaying of my feelings, he scooped me up.
When he would pay for things and make other nice gestures, I would be so flattered. He was such a gentleman -- but weren't they all, to start? I would have flashbacks to my heartbreak, to each guy who'd let me down, and I would ground myself again immediately. I was waiting for all of his kindness to come back around and bite me.
After four months, my heart was still whole. I began to use the "B word" when referring to him in conversations. I started leaving things at his place, using the excuse that his apartment was closer to my work so it would save time when I stayed over. My façade wasn't fooling anyone.
We now live together, and despite the fairy-tale-like photos plastered over social media, there are some hard moments. But that's one of the many things I love. If we had no confrontation or discussion, we wouldn't grow. I'm not saying it's fun for him when I lie on the floor crying to Taylor Swift, and I know how much he hates when I roll my eyes. Don't even get me started on our back-and-forth about what to eat for dinner.
I do look back on old flames, creeping Facebook and Instagram whenever I'm feeling nostalgic, and what-ifs cross my mind. But I bring myself back to reality within seconds. I remember that what I loved was only a small fraction of our relationship. I now live in the real world with a real gentleman who would never put me through any sort of emotional trauma. I know how much happier and stronger I am. Despite my inhibitions about commitment, I trust he will be patient as I take each step on the road ahead of us.
A first love is innocent. You go in blind, with no understanding and no standards.
Second love, now that's the real stuff. You've grown from all that pain, and you have skeletons that need to be discovered. There is a lot to learn about a person based on what they don't say, and there's even more to learn by reaching the point of opening up. Finding the person to accept all of that is a beautiful thing. Appreciate yourself and appreciate your other half; most importantly, appreciate how great you make each other.