Why It's So Hard To Fall In Love With Someone New After A Breakup

by Katie Wilhelm

My first love was absolutely maddening. It was every cliche in the book and then some.

Kissing him made me woozy. Seeing his name pop up on my phone made me giddy. When I held his hand, I flew to heights I couldn't even recognize.

I wanted to be better for him. I wanted to be everything he could have ever wanted or needed in a significant other.

I yearned for time to move quicker so that we could fast-forward to our future together. But at the same time, I wanted time to stop so that I could soak in every flawless imperfection of his.

My first love made me cry incessantly. I would shed tears thanks to a mushy text, a simple gesture or the pure ecstasy of falling asleep in his arms.

It made me crazy. It wasn't the batsh*t, scream and kick, smash your windows kind of crazy. No.

It was the kind of nuts that came from the sense that my entire existence rested in the palm of his hands. Giving myself to another person in this way made me the most vulnerable I had ever been.

There were tons of tears of frustration. There were wild fights whipping us in every direction. We had stupid tiffs that undoubtedly could have been avoided. But there was also the overwhelming feeling of love that took over every part of my life.

Until I was in love, I didn't know that missing someone could cause you physical pain. There were nights I couldn't sleep because I knew it would be months until I saw him again.

There were minutes I spent doubled over because my stomach did leaps and bounds, looking for his touch. There were the unbearable moments of disaster that came from needing to be next to each other.

Friends were lost and made. Families became family. Certain days and places became sacred.

Nicknames turned into home. Stuffed animals were given way too much meaning, and I flourished under the dopamine rush that constantly flooded my mind.

It was the first time anything I could've dreamed up wouldn't have been able to match my reality.

But then, it ended.

I gave myself a year to be single. In that time, I traveled, worked, went to school and tried my hardest to move on. I wanted to move on in a way that would allow me to not live in the awe-inspiring moments of my past anymore.

Then, I met someone.

It was almost exactly a year after my heart had gotten broken. This guy was perfect, to say the least. He was charming, hysterical, classically handsome and intelligent beyond compare. Best of all, he loved me for everything I was.

I knew how great he was. I knew how great we were together. But the fire that had lived within me during those years when I was with my first love never got ignited.

I wanted to fall in love with him. I really did.

I should have. I should have fallen in love with his charm, his irresistible sense of humor and those blue eyes that could melt a girl's heart with only one look. But I didn't.

In fact, they made me cold. His kindness turned me to stone. I was bothered by his sweet gestures and gentle touch.

Love songs didn't make me think of him. I didn't yearn to sleep by his side. I was not obsessed with his company like I should have been.

I couldn't love him, and I became furious with myself for not being able to fall like I once had. I started hating myself. We never fought because we weren't fighting for anything.

To say I tried would be an understatement. I worked at it. I lay in bed every night, thinking about everything wonderful about him. I sent him gifts and went overboard during the holidays.

I tried my best to win over his family and friends. But nothing worked.

Most people thought I was insane when I broke it off. Very few understand the absolute torment that comes from being in a relationship with someone you're not in love with. They don't know what it's like to actively avoid eye contact and intimacy. It's truly one of the most devastating things I have ever felt.

I am someone who loves to love. I live to love. I love to live.

Not being able to feel the love I once was able to feel hurt me deeply. Being with him made me nervous. I thought I would never be able to fall in love again. If the perfect guy comes along and I can't embrace that, how do I even deserve to be in love?

On paper, we were perfect. But in practice, we were lacking something huge. It all came too easily. Love doesn't work like that.

I learned that being in love doesn't always have anything to do with compatibility. It has to do with passion, chemicals and insanity. It's something that artists, authors and playwrights have been trying to encapsulate for years.

I want a love that makes me better. I want a love that makes me crazy in all the right ways.

I still have hope that I'll find the kind of love that makes me better one day. Maybe I'm naive to think that. Maybe nothing can ever live up to the madness that is a first love.

But I'm going to believe in it. I'm going to hold out hope that a boy is going to make me feel like I'm 18 again. Because if love doesn't make me feel alive, I don't want any part in it.