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Sex + Relationships

An Open Letter to My First Love

Dear first love,

Thank you for loving me when you did,

and thank you for hurting me too.


We started as any relationship does.

We were friends for some time, but I always had my eye on you.

From the first time we met, there was something about yousomething about us together.

A few years down the road it became clear: this connection was something special.


The first time you told me you loved me, I didn’t say it back.

I’m sorry for that. I did love you and I knew I did, but something about saying it out loud freaked me out.

Once I became comfortable,

and you broke down my protective walls,

I decided to do something thoughtful, memorable, and sweet to communicate just how much I loved you back.

I learned a song on my ukulele, just for you.

I spent hours learning Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” because that’s exactly how I felt.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with you.

Your laugh, the way you said hello, the way your embrace felt safe and warm

I loved you so incredibly much that I couldn’t contain it.

You made me so happy.

You treated me like I had never been treated before, in a way I never even knew I deserved.

Until gradually, you stopped.

Our relationship was extremely healthy and strong.

Until it wasn’t.

You made me laugh so hard and smile so big.

Until it became more about pleasing the crowd than pleasing someone who really mattered to you.


I still think about you sometimes.

I hope you’re okay.

I hope you’re more than okay.

It looks like you’re doing some great things.


You finally grew out your hair,

just like I asked you to do for the two years we were together.

You finally started eating healthy and going to the gym,

even though I begged you to do those things with me for years.

I hope I was able to change you like you changed me.

I hope losing me affected you the way losing you affected me.

I want happiness and prosperity for you.

But in a selfish way, I want you to know the same hurt I did.

You will never know the pain you caused me.


I fought for your attention.

There’s so many times you weren’t there for me.

I was so sad.

I was so hopelessly in love with you that any wrong you did, I dismissed.

But I felt so alone.


While I continued to make choices based on us, you continued to make choices based on you.

I had built up this big future in my head, but you saw a different one.

At the time, I was angry. Now I know it was our age.

These young adult years are when you get to be selfish;

I just wish you would have done that without dragging me through it.


You make time for the people that matter to you, right?

That’s what I thought.

So, I had to bring it to an end, but just for now.

I always thought we would end up together again one day,

but now that we have grown so far apart, I don’t see how we could ever work again.

How could I ever devote my life to someone who didn’t fight for me?

Someone who was able to so effortlessly let me go.

You never reached out.

That hurt so bad, my old love.

I thought breaking up with you would make the pain stop, but it made it so excruciatingly worse.

I knew you would be sad for a few days, but then you’d get over it.

You’d go on as if everything was fine.

I know that because that’s how you handled all of our fights.

At first: upset, off, distant.

Then one day: back to normal.


Now, I can’t put it all on you.

I know I played a part too.

I didn’t communicate to you like I should have.

I didn’t tell you when I was upset, especially at you.

But boy, did my body language show it.

I didn’t want to ruin this perfect relationship illusion.

Left and right, people told me they loved us together.

So who was I to shatter their dreams?


I should have stood up to you when I didn’t want to do something you wanted to do.

I should have been more honest about the things that bothered me.

And I really should have said something when you looked me in the eyes and said to me that you were “kinda treating me like sh*t”, followed by a laugh.

I will never forget those words.

I was such a fool.

Why didn’t I get out of the car when you said that?

Why did I stay that day?

Why did I stay at all?


That’s why they call it a first love and not a last one.

Because while some of us are lucky to make the first one, the last,

others of us have to go through a few rocky loves.

I like to look at it as preparing to have the most amazing marriage someday.

I’m learning so much; thank you for giving me that opportunity.


Thank you for all that you taught me.

You taught me to let loose a little bit.

Before I met you, I was so terrified to break any rules.

Now, I’m the one encouraging people to break a rule or two.

Thank you for giving me the push I needed to gain confidence.

Thank you for showing me I need to tell people when I am upset with them.

Thank you for teaching me to be picky with the boys I choose to go out with,

not many of them even pass the first date.

Thank you for introducing me to firsts.

My first boyfriend, my first kiss, my first love…

For the most part, our relationship was amazing, healthy, and happy;

so full of love and laughs.

You opened my doors, paid for my meals, brought me flowers, came to my front door to pick me up, and shook my father’s hand.

You told me that I deserve nothing less than to be treated like an absolute queen.

I’m sorry that I had to take your advice when you stopped treating me that way.

But you didn’t just stop holding open my doors and paying for my meals,

you stopped giving me your time.

You stopped giving me your attention.

I let go of you with the fear I would never find someone better for me.

Yet while I now know the red flags to look out for,

I also know not to settle for anything less than what I had.


They say you will always love your first love, and maybe a part of me still does, but I understand now that it’s a different kind of love. It’s a respect for the firsts you shared and the memories you make. It’s appreciating how you grew together and everything that you learned. And it’s thanking the other for loving you even though you looked the way you did and how immaturely you acted back then. (Thank God for glow-ups).

Alexa Jo is a senior at Winona State studying Psychology and Communication Studies. She enjoys learning new skills, getting outside, upcycling clothes, and hanging out with the people she loves. She likes to write stories that are real, raw, and have just a touch of humor. She writes because she believes she has a lot to say, and wants to talk about the things others are scared to talk about. She uses her writing to share her experiences and uplift others. She hopes to one day work for a non profit in campaigns for social change.
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