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12 Things You Learn When You Break Up with Your First Love

When we fall in love, we often do it with the intent of staying with that person for the rest of our lives. Sure, there are some people out there who live in the mystical land of “nothing lasts forever” – but when we’re sucked into the magical feelings of love (lust), we can’t listen to these people.

Maybe most loves don’t last forever, but mine will.

At least until it doesn’t.

But we don’t like to think about breaking up while we’re in love, and that’s a good thing. You should always strive for each relationship to be your best yet. In many ways, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will. After all, you’re that much wiser and more experienced. You’re that much more mature. You’re that much pickier about your partners.

If love is a learning experience, then it makes sense that you’d get better at it over time. But that doesn’t make the first heartbreak any easier.

Here are 12 things that you learn when your heart breaks for the first time.

1. You can have good times without being happy.

Very few relationships exist with too much of any one thing. Even in an unhappy relationship, there are likely to be some good memories. With our first loves, we tend to cling to these happy memories in order to justify the painful ones. With your first heartbreak, you learn that some things can’t be fixed with a laugh.

2. You can have sad times without being unhappy.

Sometimes, the end of a relationship will come as a total shock to one of the partners. It’s possible that they just weren’t paying attention to the signs, but in most cases, they just weighted the pain differently. It’s often hard to translate this into a post-break-up mantra, but it’s helpful to your emotional balance if you learn. Just because things look grim now doesn’t mean they’re doomed forever – keep your head up!

3. Really… Nothing lasts forever.

I said that it’s totally healthy to not picture the end while you’re in a relationship – and that’s true. But just because you aren’t picturing it doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility still. When your heart is broken for the first time, you learn that sometimes things just don’t work out like we planned, and that’s OK.

4. Most love songs are total BS.

Isn’t it so inspirational when you hear a song that tells you of someone who met their true love, their soul mate, as 20-somethings or teenagers? Or, even sappier, there are songs that tell of falling in love in elementary school and staying in love with the same person for 80 years. They’re sweet, and I’m not saying that it never happens. But the chances are much slimmer than the radio stations would have you believe. When you’re reeling from your first break-up, you feel the pain of every exaggeration.

5. Most love quotes come from writers, actors, and musicians.

Does this mean that these creative types love deeper than the average person? Not hardly – it means that it takes some work to make love sound so beautiful. It can be a horrifying experience the first time around, and sometimes the pain can be unbearable.

6. Your soul is forever exposed to someone.

The first time you fall in love, it’s like the answers to life’s every question just got inscribed into your soul – and the other person actually wants to find them and read them. But then once you break up, you feel naked. This person has looked inside of you, discovered your deepest secrets, your biggest fears… And then walked away. We start to curse the fact that we thought they’d always be there. For the rest of our lives, we’ll have to live with the fact that they know more about us than we’d like them to.

7. You won’t actually die from a broken heart.

I know how painful it can be to experience your first real loss. You can’t really justify it to anyone else, because they wouldn’t understand. Sometimes the rejection cuts so sharp you may think you’ll actually die. But then an amazing thing happens: You don’t die. Your heart heals, protects itself a little better, and you get smarter.

8. You learn what you want from a partner.

There’s this tired old trope that women become less picky as they age and stay single – but I think it’s time we put that to rest. I would venture to say that most women can pick up the pieces and redefine their relationship goals in the wake of a break-up. Sure, we might get knocked down – but we learn what we want and don’t want.

9. You learn your needs are important, too.

When we fall for our first true love, many of us will dedicate ourselves to our partner, 100%. Sometimes this means sacrificing our own beliefs, our emotional needs, and in some cases even our hopes and dreams. But breaking up with your first love teaches you that you shouldn’t give up these things, for anyone – because in the end, the only person who is always going to be there for you is you.

10. You learn what you can do better.

Most people aren’t “good” at their first relationship. We have to learn by doing, and sometimes we don’t do it very well. That’s okay. If you can take a healthy approach and evaluate the things you did wrong in the relationship, you can help craft yourself into a better person. You should never change for a partner, but if you want to attract a better partner, you have to be a better you – and you have to want to make the change.

11. You learn how to stand back up.

Losing our first love will knock us down, but the experience teaches us that we cannot be broken. We pick up the pieces and tap them back into place. We might favor the cracks a little, but that is our right. You are allowed to embrace your weaknesses – and doing so will make you stronger.

12. You learn how to be a Queen.

We are warriors of romance, and we are the champions of our own story. All the supporting characters should be just that – supportive. Losing our first love teaches us that if someone isn’t right for our lives, we should dismiss them. Of course, it may take years to learn which people belong in our lives and which ones don’t – but when we command ourselves with dignity and strength, we will be perceived as such, too.

And that’s a truly empowering feeling.

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