The premise that the first time you fall in love could make or break your entire life goes against a lot of logic. While I believe it to be a very true statement, it’s not as doom and gloom as it sounds. There are a couple of different routes you may choose to take and the decision is still up to you. Just like anything in life, you have a choice.
My whole premise was inspired by the following Chuck Klosterman quote:
“We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It's easy.
The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven't even met yet, probably. They all count.
But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years.
But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these loveable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable.
The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins.
They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.”
The first couple times I read that, I was blown away and didn’t really want to believe that it was the case. However, the more I thought about the true meaning behind the quote, I realized it was probably the truest thing I had ever read about love.
First and foremost, we need to create our own definitions of love. I’m not referring to the “love” you find when you’re 15 and on the phone with your crush for three hours or the “love” you find during college when you have no idea where your life is headed or where you want to be or who you want to be.
I am talking about the rawest imaginable form of love; the love where every decision you make involves that other person. You go to bed thinking of the person, dream about the person and wake up thinking about the person. Every scenario you envision yourself having in life includes this person right by your side. The thought of this person ending up with someone other than you leaves you with a physically crippling stomachache.
That is the love I am defining.
Anyone can fall in this kind of love at any stage in life, but more likely than not, you will only experience this when you meet the person during the “first time you really, really, want to love someone” phase. I believe that it's more likely to occur when you know yourself and what you really want in life. Maybe it’s not until you’re in your mid-twenties; maybe it’s earlier or maybe it’s later.
The easiest and least complicated way to explain this theory is the fairytale scenario. It is quite simple: You fall in love once, you both know it and you stay together forever. To the .001 percent of people who experience this, congratulations, you can stop reading now.
For the rest of us, once you do experience or “fall” in love that first time, there will be some twists and turns that you will have to accept. Many of these are comparable to the “fight or flight” response. Let’s say you meet that person who will eventually define what love means to you, but it falls apart or it does not work out.
Now, let’s assume you don’t take it very well. Whatever reason was for the breakup, it knocks you on your ass and you don’t which way to turn. You are unsure you will make a full recovery.
The flight scenario response to this may be “safe,” but it has a limited upside otherwise. You run from the heartache and try to replace it with something, strictly to fill the void. You will likely rush into a bad relationship because it’s comforting and it makes you feel less alone.
Meanwhile, this new person could be the worst person in the world, but because he or she happens to catch you at your lowest point, it feels right. Odds are, this will lead to nothing but sadness and an early midlife crisis in the future.
You will continue to jump from relationship to relationship, searching for what you had with that first individual, but you’re too blind to understand that you will NEVER find that feeling again until you learn to let go of it.
Many people are unable let go of that raw love feeling and they miss or pass up on other opportunities to experience something just as good, if not better, than what they think they had. Remember, the grass is not as green over there as you think it will be.
The fight scenario offers a much better upside, but can still leave you just as jaded and quite possibly, emptier than the flight scenario will. The fight scenario is basically a giant slap in the face. This scenario interprets the heartbreak and defeat as eye openers to ignite a fire from within that is stronger than any feeling you’ve ever felt.
With this option, you learn to hate love. You promise yourself you will never feel that way again; you will never open yourself up or let anyone harm you emotionally, ever again. You start focusing on yourself and your health and your career and whatever you decide to be passionate about. You pursue it at a rate that you never had before.
While this is not a bad thing, you will eventually slow down, take a step back and realize the whole reason for this new and improved you is because of that person. You’ll know deep down that this person made you this way, that this person can “control how you feel about everyone else.”
At some point down the line, you’ll realize what made you the way you are. It will be like a flashback and you’ll be taken aback knowing that while you thought you were doing everything in spite of this person to better yourself, ultimately, you spited yourself by being so closed off to the rest of life’s experiences.
Many people are absolutely okay with being alone their entire lives. If they feel gratified by their lives, they have no problem bouncing from meaningless relationship to meaningless relationship until the day they die. I don’t judge these people in the slightest. I just feel that life is better when shared with someone you love.
When every breathtaking moment you experience is with a new individual, you’re only creating moments, not memories. Those people will eventually move on and you’ll be left reminiscing with yourself.
So, the question remains, how can you avoid this? Every person copes with loss in his or her own way, and while losing someone to a relationship is far different than losing someone to death, you are still left missing someone. If and when you experience this love and loss phenomenon, you must focus on making yourself a better person while not punishing your future relationships for a past relationship’s unfortunate ending.
Focus on realizing your worth. How you choose to accomplish this does not matter. How you choose to motivate yourself to do it doesn’t matter, either, so long as you do it. If you continue to better yourself every single day and not hold grudges, you will have no regrets.
If you end up alone or if you find a new person who redefines what love means to you, you’ll find that true happiness is attainable in many different forms.
Love is a strangely dangerous game. That’s why they call it “falling in love” and not “rising to love.” Eventually, you’ll hit the bottom, no matter what path you take. Depending on your attitude and decisions on the way down, the bottom can be the greatest place in the world or the loneliest. Choose wisely.