is first love stronger than now love?

Longing. I swear I long for longing itself. Much the way I’ve been so adept at falling in love with the ideas of things, I hunger for the ache and the want, for the beginnings based on everything we bring to them. I’m infatuation-centric, which explains my highs, even the height of my lows. It means I still long for the giddiness, the sexy surprises, the can’t think straight without you motions. In so many ways, ways that reveal my naiveté, I still believe one of my deepest loves was one of my first loves. It was like walking in the dark, with the obvious obstacles of being teens living in your parents home. We’d speak on the phone for hours, and then there were letters. Little folded nuggets of gold, unfolded and inflated, as real as the chambers of a heart. Although I was young—fourteen-years-old, I was in what felt, what still feels, like the deepest love of my life. I don’t know if I’ve ever come as close. I know, usually we chalk early love up to innocence, to a time when big life events don’t lean on you, when really, you’re more in love with what the other sees in you than in what you see in them.

My earliest relationships were intimate, not in the physical exploration of our bodies as much as in exposing our current emotions, laying our feelings out raw, like a bouquet of wildflowers, picked fresh, still sticky and damp, loosened from a fist, splayed across a table. There was an intimacy of confession, of how we really feel about our parents or our uncles, people and thoughts we pretty much keep to ourselves when we’re “fully grown” adults ourselves, when the top-of-mind parents and uncles cats & cradle their way toward the back of the line. We fall asleep in a web of thought and song lyrics, mixed tapes, where theirs is the voice you want to hear most. Where their’s is the first call when you have news. And at such a young age, it’s all shared in the living of it, not in the retelling. “You grow up together, then you grow apart.” Or, at least that’s what I was told. He just “grew apart. Changed, wanted different.” “Wanted different” would lodge itself into my female book of male wisdom pages, marked beside the page on “wanting the chase more than the woman.” “Make yourself unavailable, and he’ll want you all the more.” I wrote it with bubble dotted i’s in my high school journal. People underestimate teens. I don’t know, truly, how much I’ve changed since those early years. It’s the same me in there, fascinated by what motivates people to behave as they do, still seduced by mixed tapes, lyrics and acoustic guitars.

I wonder what wisdom I know now, the way I did then, without directly expressing it. Wonder what I’d long for in us, the us we are today. I wonder how the coffee clutch conversations of girls would change, what I’d long for privately when falling asleep at night. If I’d think of you when I’d hear some passerby chirp about “living life. It’s so short, and you only have one, so make it count.” I’d wonder if I should’ve held onto us longer, learned to have longing without losing, or if I should’ve been long gone, making up for a life that hasn’t really been lived yet. I wonder how I’d wear that retrospect.



  1. I don’t think it’s a first or a now thing. I think it’s a get under your skin thing. Some people you just have a more powerful kind of chemistry with. They can be all wrong for you and not what you really want but it’s a chemical THING. Second, it’s a reminiscent thing. It’s that trick we play on ourselves when we think back and conveniently only remember the good not the bad. Or just remembering it better than it really was. And lastly, the amount of time put in. Chances are the 1st love wasn’t really a long relationship. Put 6, 10, 20 years into any romantic relationship and there are ebbs and flows, etc. We don’t know what our feelings about that 1st one would be 10 years into it so it’s easy to imagine all those first love feelings would stick around but I highly doubt it. Expecially because we don’t even know our true selves at that time.

    I was a hardcore romantic as a kid. I remember thinking I was in love in nursery school and every grade thereafter. I was crushed over and over and over again, thinking each one, with the long phone calls, the mixed tapes, and the longing, was The One. Now that Facebook exists and you can see on a daily basis their views, beliefs, morals, and then some, I’m pretty confident that while young, 1st & 10th loves are more just fond memory & should stay that way rather than “what ifs”.

  2. This is the exact reason why Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ has become such a hit. It ties up all these emotions perefectly, and allows us to relive them for 3 minutes.

  3. God, this is gorgeous. You’re such an amazing writer, it took me right back to the days of mix tapes and raw feelings myself. This sounds like something that would be on Thought Catalog – do you ever submit material for them?

    1. Thanks. I for sure do my best writing drunk. My editor gets repressed, shoved out of the way. Emotions amp up, and I become syrup, poured liberally as I pour another glass. Every note of this was written on champagne.

  4. great piece.
    def know what you are talking about.
    unfortunately, that is self limiting, and after a few years it ends, no matter with whom, I think.
    I miss it too

  5. I reconnected with my first love about 12 years ago when I was newly divorced and he was long-married. He had a ‘layover’ in my city and found my number. The kids were with their dad, and I primped and polished…hadn’t seen him in 15-18 years? Picked him up at the airport and my heart stopped all over again. Suddenly – I was 16 again…that rush of hormones/phermones/chemistry hit me like a ton of bricks…what the hell…I was floored.

    We proceeded to go to dinner at the same place we went for Jr. Prom – held hands over the quiet candle-lit table…took a walk in the woods and had the most romantic moonlit kiss on the bridge over a stream. We then went to our old make-out place high on the hill overlooking the city and made out – ending up at my big, empty house in front of the fireplace, snuggled in on big pillows and a velvet comforter.

    We talked of high school – the amazing times we had – the fun/the bad/the break-up and the ensuing 18 years of silence. He married young, has 4 daughters (one of them named after me), still likes his wife and though we shared so many intimacies this time – no sex was involved. We parted friends again – he went back to his wife and I went back to being mom to the darlings – no one the wiser.

    Would I be with him again? Nope. Not even. That was then – those emotions were real, but I’ve grown far, far past them. I will cherish that they were – and that I didn’t stay there. I’d be a mid-western, semi-rich, stay at home wife and mother…I would never have gotten to do the things that I have which have led me to this precipice…this astonishing place where youngest darling is turning 18, and I am about to be free…

  6. I think this is a lovely, thoughtful piece of writing.

    I think young or first loves tend to be more dramatic simply because there is usually less going on in your life. At some point, the emotions you have towards your partner are diluted by other endeavors simply because you only have so much emotional energy.

    Perhaps I am different because I do not miss young love. It is all consuming and, honestly, exhausting. I love the love that I have now, the one that makes room for other things in my life.

  7. I’m wondering if I would know love now even if it stroked my face. You’d think that each ‘new’ love, in some way, would feel new but I find that with all the relationships gone bad, it’s hard to determine what love is as a ‘grown up.’

    I found a very loving 60 year old man (I’m 52) who loves and adores me unconditionally and with whom I can be myself. Downside: he works only freelance, has no health insurance, no savings, needs to lose his old worn out wordrobe and some weight for his health. The difficulty is we have a strong connection which is why after three break-ups we kept getting back together, only to now be apart once again…upon my initiation.

    So, does love come down to nicer comfortable ‘secure’ lifestyle, or loyal adoration, poems, and songs written for you?


  8. I heart Three Teens Mom…always love reading her thoughts on things. Stephanie, you moved me again…reading here always stirs my heart. Thank you for your insight, as it always speaks to me.

  9. I love your comment that “people underestimate teens.” Now that I’m parenting one, I have to constantly remind myself not to underestimate her. She is pretty freaking amazing.

    This post really resonates with me right now. I love the giddiness of new love, the excitement, the mixes, the lack of sleep, never running out of things to say….

    I struggle with looking back too much and thinking that the answers somehow lie in the past and I have to refocus myself on “now” and being present. My mantra lately has been “the past is behind you, the future unknown, all you have is now.”

  10. “I’d wonder if I should’ve held onto us longer”. Are you telling us that you’ve LET GO of your “now love”??

    It’s partly human nature – The grass is always greener on the other side. If someone gave me a free purse, I would love it to death and feel so grateful. However, if someone said that they were giving me a free purse, but let me choose just one from 20, I would hum and haw over picking one, but always wonder if I would be happier with another.

    Sometimes I wonder about what-ifs. But then I look at my husband with all his flaws, but also his strength, faithfulness and love, and I am reminded that love is like the gift purse, and that I am blessed.

    To me, love is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If two people believe in it and in each other, they fall more and more in love. If they share their doubts, cracks start to grow, and they fall out of it. It’s partly self-preservation. But it can also be a conscious decision to LOVE FIRST, and result in feeling more loved in return.

  11. Nothing has ever rivaled that feeling of first love for me either. I’ve certainly surprised myself by feeling that tingle/spark I thought might be gone, but that first love…that’s a feeling I’ll never forget. I wonder if it could have lasted forever.

  12. “And at such a young age, it’s all shared in the living of it, not in the retelling.” Great line, so astute.

    1. Just found this post and wanted to throw in my two cents. I am 26 years old and just got out of a 9 1/2 year relationship. We definitely shared the living of it but I think my ex missed being unable to “retell” his story. I knew how he grew up because I was part of it. When retelling one’s life story they have the chance to omit certain parts or spin other parts. When you are living it, you know all of the details. When my ex would tell me things like how great his parents were when he was growing up, I knew that not to be true. I was there for his black eye(s), I was there for the emotional abuse, and I was the one that gave him money to hide in case things ever got so bad he needed to take a cab to my house. I think part of the reason we broke up is because he didn’t like that I knew so much. I believe the next person he is with will not have any details into his family life. I think he likes to pretend things were different in his childhood and it was hard to do with someone who was there for it and knew the truth.

      While I have yet to date someone else, it is hard to imagine that I will feel the connection I felt with him. What we felt as teens/young adults was pure and came with minimal baggage.

  13. I am…so dumbfounded…by how honest and true that post was. I just stumbled upon your blog today after reading a super old blog post from Jasmine Star. I love that you love stories… no matter what medium, you will tell them. I felt like you were writing my heart. I love photography and love to write. I love them both.

    Thank you so much for being vulnerable and saying whats true, despite what people think. I try to do the same on my blog, but hate that I might be thought of as a “super emotional girl.” But you know whats funny? I am. So why should I be afraid of it.

    All to say. Thank you. I love your writing.

  14. I never got over my first love. I was 15, he was 17. It was short lived but so intense and innocent. 17 years later, I’ve been in a year long affair with him. He’s divorced, I’m on my second marriage. I know how very wrong it is but I spent years and years trying to get over him and when I first saw his face again, all of those emotions came crashing down on me again. I can’t leave my husband because of my children but I can’t let go me my first love either. Wrong or not, I love him so much. 17 years and we picked up right where we left off. Like we were never apart.

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