Oh, that first love. The invigorating, soul-crushing experience of falling in love with someone for the first time.
Some of us experience this phenomenon at 14, some not until our twenties. Mine was at 17. And I fell— hard.
Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last. We didn’t get married, didn’t have babies together, nor did we have have a life-long passionate affair as I had daydreamed about constantly.
He broke my heart and it literally felt like I might die.
The aftermath of this relationship affected me for years after it was over. In fact, for me, it was never really finished at all. For years I still fantasized that we would somehow meet up again and rekindle our romance. It was silly. And obsessive. I know.
But this was the first intense romantic relationship of my life. When I did move on to new relationships I compared every man to him. Sometimes I even imagined it was him.
I know there are women out there who were just as crazy about their first love as I was. There’s something about falling in love (or lust) when you’re a teenager that makes everything so much more dramatic. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was full of passion and hope. Then, I felt depression and heartbreak that took years to subside.
When you keep a feeling alive in your mind long after the actual experience is gone, you tend to rehash everything over and over again. It took a while, but I did eventually move on.
Over a decade later I was sitting at my computer looking at Facebook.
Facebook was something I certainly didn’t have when I was 17. Or 25. And then it hit me. I could look him up on Facebook! And so I did. Don’t judge me. I know some of you have done this too. (And probably on multiple occasions!)
What did I find? Well, actually, it wasn’t as glamorous as I had expected. In my mind, he had run off with some supermodel into the sunset living an amazing, adventurous life without me.
In fact, it turns out he was living a pretty simple life.
As I scrolled through the information I found on the first guy to ever tear out my heart and eat it for breakfast, I realized something. He wasn’t the love god I had always thought he was. He was just a normal guy.
He was living in a small town and working a modest job. And the supermodel? There was none. The woman he settled down with was so plain-looking compared to my fantastical imaginings that I was stunned. She was nothing like I’d expected. She was very granola. No makeup. No pretense.
And they had kids—a few of them.
There it was. That was it. He was no longer a mystery.
I have to admit, seeing the reality of what happened to my first love was kind of a buzz kill. Leave it to the internet to ruin all my delusions of grandeur.
But he was indeed still hot. That much was the same. He still had that smile. And those eyes.
So, after all the years of wondering and daydreaming, I finally came to terms with reality. My first love was a normal guy living a normal life. He had moved on and—despite my internet snooping—I had moved on as well. The fantasy was over.
So what did I learn?
I learned that most of the time our imaginations do not coincide with real life. I learned that love is definitely fond of being blind and a lot of the time reality just isn’t as exciting as our own imaginations.
I also know now that we probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway.
The path I ended up on was where I was supposed to go and a long-term relationship with my first love just wasn’t meant to be.
At least in reality.
More from Michelle: 5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Relationships (And What To Do About It)