After my very first heartbreak, I didn’t want to jump into another relationship right away. In fact, I wanted to steer clear of boys for a long while. But who can blame me? I opened up my heart fully to someone and entrusted them to take care of it, only to have it thrown away and crushed in the end. How could I be so quick to become that vulnerable again with someone new when my heart was still hurting and in the process of mending itself? How could I trust that someone new wouldn’t do the same as my first love did, because my first was the only love that I knew?
It took some time, but after my breakup I was eventually able to start focusing on myself: I got straight A’s during my third semester in college for the very first time; I found a fulfilling work study position tutoring math to 8th graders and prepping 11th graders for their ACT’s and SAT’s; I became involved with student groups and established meaningful friendships along the way.
I was content. I was independent. I was carefree. And after focusing so much on myself, I actually began to date again. Was I interested in finding a boyfriend? No, not really. Was I enjoying the experience of dating? Hell yeeeah I was! I didn’t think anything of it. I was just having fun, and I knew I didn’t want to get into anything serious. And with every guy that I encountered, I would automatically assume, “Oh, he’s a playaaa.” (I didn’t even realize I was thinking this way about everyone until one of my roomies pointed it out to me!) My first heartbreak taught me to be cautious and alert when it came to boys and relationships, and as a result, I was always hesitant to “give in” and “catch feelings” for anyone new.
Then, I met Carlos. Okay. The end. LOL just kiddin’.
I could tell that Carlos was different from any of the other guys that I had dated. For example, he didn’t do that whole power struggle thing that some guys would do when it came to texting or communicating. He wasn’t afraid to reach out to me first or reply back right away to my texts – he even threw in a few double-texts here and there (heheh). I appreciated this a lot, because I hated “playing the game” and guessing whether or not a guy was interested or wanted to talk to me. Initially, I also assumed Carlos to be a player like most of the other guys I had been talking to, but the way he communicated encouraged me to think otherwise.
We had been dating for three weeks, and one night, Carlos asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend. You would think that I would have said yes right away, but I didn’t. Was I already yearning to be in a relationship so soon knowing there was the possibility that I could get my heart broken again? Wasn’t I already content being single and independent? I didn’t know what I wanted at the time, but I responded to him with the truth: I wasn’t ready yet.
Carlos had told me that he understood where I was coming from and that he didn’t mind that I wasn’t ready. He was super patient with me, and for that I am grateful. I needed time to figure out what it was that I wanted, and to be truthful, I was scared to get hurt again. But then more time had passed – two more months, to be exact – and I finally told Carlos that I was ready to be his girlfriend.
We’ve been together for almost three years now (in two weeks, actually!) and I must say that I’m constantly learning more about myself, love, and relationships every day. There are definitely a few things that my second love has taught me that my first didn’t:
1. Love is worth the risk of being vulnerable.
After my breakup, I questioned love. It’s not like how the movies or books portray it to be. You can give your all to someone and they can choose to let you go or shatter your heart to pieces at any moment. My second love taught me that that is what love is. Love is about being vulnerable and giving your all, because how can you ever fully experience what love actually is if you’re holding back and half-assing it? Love is worth the risk of being vulnerable to have your heart broken again.
2. Love comes when you least expect it to.
I have to admit, I’ve tried looking for love. I’ve always liked the idea of having a boyfriend/significant other, going on cute little dates, and having someone there for you 24/7. And after a while, I began to think that I would be #foreveralone and wondered if something was actually wrong with me because I couldn’t find a boyfriend. When I met Carlos, I did not expect to start anything with him in the slightest. He taught me that love is based off of timing, which is something that I wish my past self could have known. I wish I knew that it was okay to enjoy life and not worry about finding someone because as cliché as it sounds, love tends to come around when you least expect it to and when it’s meant to happen.
3. The next person you fall for is not the same person as your last.
In the beginning of my relationship with Carlos, he brought to my attention that I was “holding back” with him. At the time, I had no idea what he meant by that statement. Holding back what, exactly? It wasn’t until a little later in our relationship that I realized what he was referring to: I wasn’t giving him my all. I was always hesitant in falling head-over-heels for him; I never wanted to show him that something was bothering me; I didn’t ever want to cry in front of him or show any signs of weakness. I just didn’t want to seem vulnerable – or be vulnerable, for that matter. There was a wall built around myself after my first love broke up with me, and so as a result, I held back with Carlos. But as time progressed, he proved to me that he was nothing like my ex. And it wasn’t fair of me to treat him like he was because they are two totally different people. As my second love, Carlos showed me that it was okay to let my guard down and give him my full trust – it was okay to love again.
4. The best is yet to come.
After my very first breakup, I honestly believed my first love to be perfect and possibly “the one” for me – I truly felt that no one could replace him. Oh good gracious lawd, I WAS SO WRONG. Carlos is so much better of a boyfriend than my ex was to me (and that’s possibly an understatement). He respects me in the way that he talks and acts towards me, he can be super corny and cheesy like I can be, he’s thoughtful and goes out of his way to do things for me… the list goes on. After my previous relationship, I had a greater understanding of what I wanted to look for in my future significant other, and I see many of these qualities (if not more) in Carlos. I’ve come to learn that not all relationships work out in the end and that’s okay, because the next one will most likely be better than the last.
Those were just a few things that I’ve learned from my second love, but I have to say that everything I’ve experienced thus far has allowed me to grow and learn so much about myself and the concept of what love really is. It was my first love that taught me what it was like to fall hopelessly for someone without any walls, barriers, or hesitation; it was my first heartbreak that taught me to be cautious and protect myself from the possibility of getting hurt again; and it was my second love that taught me how to truly love someone again and feel loved in return. While it’s true that love isn’t always fairy tales and happy endings, I have no regrets. And currently, I am so thankful to be able to have my second love by my side as we continue to learn and grow from each other every day – and this is only just the beginning.