My first love was the ultimate “bad boy.”
Coming from a dysfunctional home with an extremely volatile father, he had a lot of wounds. He led an unpredictable, hard-partying and chaotic life. I never knew where he would sleep from night to night or whether he would show up at high school the next day. But he was charismatic, charming, funny, and sexy, and I fell for him the very first day we met.
I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of him. They were compassionate and generous people, but they wouldn’t be crazy about the idea of their teenage daughter dating someone who had been to jail. I tested the waters by talking to my mom about him here and there, and I could see the caution in her eyes and could hear the concern in her voice. She instinctively knew this wasn’t someone who would be able to make a responsible commitment to me.
I knew that too, but was so caught up in the thrill of the chase I didn’t care. During a time in my life when I carried around a lot of deep internal questions about myself (like, “Am I valuable?” “Am I worthy of someone’s love?”), catching this guy’s attention was like an addiction. For just the few hours we were together anyway, I would feel valuable and lovable. I liked the feeling of being “a fix” that he needed and couldn’t live without, even if his life wasn’t together enough to commit. But inevitably the feeling would dissipate as days or weeks went by before I heard from him again.
As I’ve written previously, he finally cut me off completely after two years of being on-again/off-again. I felt like I’d given everything to him—including my virginity—but I didn’t receive much in return. I was devastated for months, but when I began to recover I was slowly able to see that I had allowed myself to be used.
I hadn’t thought commitment mattered that much to me, but when my heart shattered into a million pieces I realized that it was exactly what I had been hoping for all along. If it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have felt utterly heartbroken.
After that, I began to look at relationships really differently. I knew I was no longer willing to be “friends with benefits” with a guy; I was a grown ass woman and needed to be treated with respect—and I needed to treat the guy with the same respect!
Having my heart broken by my first love was one of the most painful experiences of my life, but a lot of good came out of it. It was a turning point in my approach to relationships. After that, I treated them a lot more seriously.
I went on to make some more mistakes, but because those relationships had been mutual and committed, dealing with the aftermath of them was less painful. And it wouldn’t be long before I would enter into a relationship with my future husband, because by then I knew that a lifetime commitment was really what I was looking for all along.