The 5 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My First Relationship

My high school boyfriend and I were together from the beginning of my junior year until the first few weeks of college. Here is what I learned from my two-year relationship. 

1. Romantic love is not everything.

Credit: Pinterest 

And, yes, seeing stuff like this on Pinterest now makes me cringe.

Over the course of my almost two-year relationship, I became one of those people who gets lost in their partner. My junior year was a whirlwind of hormones and the kind of intense feelings only first love can bring. We spent every possible minute together, from lunch at school to hanging out after school in between my various extra-curriculars. At first, this seemed like the ideal situation. We saw each other all the time and loved it (usually). He was a part of my friend group, so I could hang out with all my friends at school at the same time.

However, after a few months, my friends started complaining about how much time I spent with him. At the time, I felt attacked and irritated. We were in love, how was their time more valuable than the time I spent with my boyfriend? But over the summer before senior year, I went on a two-week trip to Spain with my school and one of my best friends. I came back home and felt like I’d woken up from a dream. After spending two weeks without my boyfriend, I realized how much I’d missed my friend and our other friends. For the first time, what my friends had kept telling me passive-aggressively about my relationship made sense.

So, in senior year, I purposely separated myself from my boyfriend. We no longer hung out every day after school, only on the weekends and occasionally on Fridays. This set-up turned out to be much better for us (not to mention my grades) and I was also able to get back some of the time I’d lost with my friends. After our break up, I absolutely loved spending time with my friends. 


2. Mental illness in a partner is something that is absolutely not to be romanticized


Good mental health should always be a priority in relationships. 

My ex had a constant, frankly scary struggle with mental health. I never thought I could fix him and he never asked me to, but being there for someone who could potentially hurt themselves is incredibly draining and a big time commitment. His relationship with his parents was something that contributed to his negative mental health, and every time we were texting and he didn’t respond for over 20 minutes, I’d assume the worst and think he’d gotten into a fight with his parents. I was usually right. Additionally, as an incredibly empathetic person, constantly worrying and talking to him about things he was going through took a toll on me. I did this willingly because I loved him and wanted to help, but I was usually on edge at the beginning of our relationship and it wasn’t fun.


3. Relationships are actual work.

This gif is from that episode of The Office in season 9 when Jim and Pam are on their way to couples counseling.

This one was quite the revelation. There are all sorts of myths surrounding relationships and how they work, and the first one is that they are easy and organic. Sure, the beginning often starts out like that, but once all those butterflies fade away, you have to communicate and compromise. You have to have fights and work through them. All the little things that you used to think were cute and quirky about your partner are probably going to start irritating you to some degree. Fighting is healthy and communicating is the only way you can fix issues between you and your partner.


4. Don’t stay together for college.

Credit: Pinterest 

This is the age-old question, isn’t it? My ex and I lasted 6 days of long-distance before we broke up. We didn’t break up because of long-distance, but there was no way that we were going to be able to make it work being hours away from each other. When you get to college, both of you are surrounded by so many new people and things, it’s only natural that one or both of you is going to end up developing a crush. There’s also so much going on in college that it can be hard to have the kind of constant communication that you need to sustain a long-distance relationship. One of my friends literally went to the same school as her boyfriend and they broke up less than a month into the semester. Some people can make it work, and that’s great! But, in my experience, I think staying together for college just for the sake of staying together and not wanting to ‘give up’ on the relationship isn’t the best idea.


5. Saying “I love you” too soon isn’t that great.

Credit: Buzzfeed

I blame Ted Mosby for making me think my bf saying it so soon wasn’t that bad.

My ex told me he loved me a week into our relationship. Besides showing emotional immaturity, it put a lot of pressure on me to reciprocate those feelings and made the relationship very intense very quickly. Before I could even decide what I wanted the next step to be after our first date, he said “I love you” and there was no turning back. This also made it so that the “honeymoon phase” lasted less time. After about two or three months, because we’d gone through so many stages of love in such a short amount of time, we arrived at our first fight faster than if we hadn’t gotten so intense so quickly. This also served to make the relationship more boring than it should’ve been father down the road.

Relationships are complex, weird things that aren’t talked about in realistic ways enough. Everyone’s first relationship is different, but these lessons are ones I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. 


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