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What I Learned From My First Love: The Good, The Bad, and The Lessons

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

First boyfriends and first loves may not always coincide, however for myself, I found that to be the case. My ex and I dated from the end of our freshman year of high school until the fall of our senior year, and it’s safe to say that in two and a half years I learned a lot about myself, him, and life and love in general.

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

I was a busy girl in high school. I played two varsity sports, was in many clubs, took honors and AP classes, you name it. I was involved. My boyfriend was a three-sport varsity athlete. We didn’t always have the time to see each other, and even if we did, it was hard to spend quality time with each other during the week. My junior year was where things started to pick up and I began to have less and less time to spend with him. He always wanted to see me, but I just couldn’t make time with my schedule. He would get extremely upset, and in turn, I felt increasing guilty each time I turned him down. It got to the point where I would put off assignments or activities in order to see him so he wouldn’t be frustrated. We had arguments and issues when I finally put my foot down and put myself first, but I couldn’t let my social and academic life suffer much more.

Looking at it now, I know I was doing what was best for me at the time. Part of me always thought that if I had given him more time, maybe we wouldn’t have had that increased strain on our relationship. However, I know in my heart and mind I did the best I could to balance everything. I know now that some selfishness isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to relationships, as it helps you keep you, you. You have to have interests and priorities outside your relationship in order for it to be healthy, or else you’ll find if it doesn’t work out you’ve not only lost your partner, but yourself as well.

jealously is a disease

Jealousy is something that in relationships, even strong and healthy ones, is almost unavoidable. High school makes it just that much more difficult. Both of us were the ‘jealous type,’ which unfortunately led to plenty of arguments and insecurity. I felt like he was very flirtatious with other girls, unintentionally or not, and it bothered me to no end. Though I knew he loved me very much, when his attention was on another girl who I considered better looking in some respect or another, it made me angry. He would react similarly when I was with my guy friends as well. We both felt insecure, even though we knew how much we both cared about each other.

The lack of trust between us was something we continued to work on throughout our relationship, however, we never were really able to overcome that hill. I know now that while jealousy is almost impossible to avoid, it can be controlled. Reassurance is key. Whether you are giving that to your partner or your partner is giving it to you, it can go a long way. Trust and confidence in your partner may seem like you are putting yourself out there to get hurt, but it also allows you to love unconditionally and not hold back from something great.

Not everything is one sided

When looking back on my relationship, I often think of the things my ex did to upset me. While there was plenty of that, taking into account my own actions, I wasn’t the perfect girlfriend by any means. I would often become frustrated with him over little things, or take out my stress onto him because he let me. He cared for me very deeply, and to some extent I took advantage of this. I would often be unreasonable or demanding to the point where he would finally stand up for himself, and then it would become an argument where he would eventually apologize. This was not fair to him, and while I got better about it, I could still feel myself falling into that trap whenever I was angry with him.

This reflection makes me realize how much work I had to do on myself. While it would be easy to blame him for things that went wrong, the truth is we both contributed to our downfall. I was young and dumb, and to be honest, I still am. I handled things the way I thought they should be handled, but I never knew if it was the right way. While I wish I could go back and change the way I acted in some situations, I now have grown and learned from it.

Love may not conquer all

There is no doubt in my mind: I loved this boy with my whole heart. To leave him was and still is the hardest thing I have done, but it was time. I found myself lonely months later, questioning why I let him out of my life. He did care for me more than anyone had before, so why did I let him go? I am so grateful for the time I spent with him and the experiences we had together, however it was time for our chapter to end. We were both growing from the kids we were when we first got together, and we were both headed in different directions. We attempted to stay friends, but that can be extremely difficult when you care for someone so deeply. We needed time apart, and I hope that one day I will be able to call him a friend once again.

Though we loved each other very much, sometimes love isn’t enough. That I think is the hardest lesson I had to learn. While he will always hold a piece of my heart, as we grew up, we grew apart. I still care for him, and I always will wish him the best, but I know that we are not the best for each other. Timing, priorities, and other factors may become too overwhelming, especially at such a young age. However, everything I experienced with him I will carry on with me into my next relationship and into life in general. Now, I will continue to work on myself and next time I fall in love, these lessons and my growth from this relationship will hopefully make my next one successful.

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Olivia Vadnais

U Mass Amherst '25

Hi everyone, my name is Olivia and I am a freshman at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. I am very excited to join HerCampus this fall! I love reading, Taylor Swift, sports (especially basketball) and hanging out with friends and family. I am a management major and hope to end up double majoring in journalism as well.
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