How to move on from your first love?
April 10, 2008 3:03 AM   Subscribe

Moving on from a first love - at 26 years old.

I'm a 26 year old who's never been a relationship - at first, it was by choice (busy studying). Now it seems out of my hands - straight guys find me too smart (double major), some find fault with my physical aspects (i'm 5"6 and 140 pounds in an asian society), some find fault with my lifestyle (days i need to be alone vs days i have too many activities - sports, outings). In the meantime, i'm handling having to juggle my work (lots of it), my family (only child to 2 elderly parents and extended family - grandpa).

Guys i like didn't catch on and guys i could only be friends with (different race, different moral/principles, ideologies) wanted to be with me but as i handled it properly, they backed down and remained friends.

The issue is this: 2 years ago, i made a new guy friend. The current lot of my close friends are married gals and gays. Guy friends i usually keep at an arm's length unless they are of the decent sort. This new guy friend and i hit it off. I knew he wasn't ready for a relationship, choosing to focus on career as he is just about a year older than i am, so i was just game to make a new friend. We were seeing each other once/twice a week despite our crazy schedules. And with each meeting, my raging hormones went out of control. I decided to divert our friendship into a FWB one. He became my first..kiss, and that. That was 2006.

Like all car rides, this one was leading for the wall. As you would guess by this sentence. I fell for him, he liked me but was still 'deciding'. Worst, he kept me hanging on, saying he will make his decision by this date (somewhere end 2008 <- this is probably a moot issue by now: see next para.). I wasn't prepared to wait so i did the 'no contact thing'. I know my strengths and my weaknesses but damn it, i am definitely good enough for him. He not choosing me is not an ego issue for me; i thought love was enough and at 26 yrs old, having vicariously learnt from the experiences around me, i was happy to settle for him as i felt he was good enough for me.

Current: We are back to being great friends and i've schooled myself mentally how unsuitable he is by reminding myself of his flaws (his indecisiveness over me, his personal choice of career over relationship, nitpicks like his height (same as mine), or his lackadasical maturity in certain areas. In the past, i would avoid commenting on his attitudes/views but now, i just let it rip. (for e.g. if i think him wanting to change his car which he bought 6 mths ago because he doesn't like it anymore, i would tell him straight in the face that stinks of immaturity & frivolousness). After all, i'm not trying to impress him anymore.

I don't let him touch me and i avoid kisses/hugs as much as i can without coming across as an ice queen. He does notice the change and commented a few times but my basic comment was that he no longer has access to my time and affection as before. Recently, i interviewed for a job with a possible overseas relocation and he seemed pretty upset by it. I know it's the typical 'i don't want you now but i want you around when i need you' so that's why i am hardened to make the move.

But deep down i know my reason for relocation is because i'm still hurting. How do you move on from someone who's your first love, when you were prepared to 'make do' with him and instead, he's the one who made the choice?
posted by prudie to Human Relations (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I also started dating later than most people and experienced getting dumped later, and there are only two bits of advice I can give. First, you move on by doing exactly what you're doing...don't let him manipulate you, don't "settle" for him, don't give in. Move on with your life. It will stop hurting eventually, but this was your first takes a long time.

Also, I learned that you can't just learn vicariously from the experiences of others and have your first relationship turn out to be a success. When it's your emotions on the line, the experience is totally different. Consider this a learning relationship, take what you can from it, and then move on.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:23 AM on April 10, 2008

I don't think there is a standard recipe for moving on. Everyone does it differently. Your reactions to his indecisiveness are very logical and comprehensively address all his issues. Keep doing what you're doing and you'll get over him eventually.
posted by easy_being_green at 3:58 AM on April 10, 2008

This might stink a little, but IMHO if you really want to get over him stop seeing him period. You can do the whole no-contact thing or whatever and re-assess in a couple of months (or years) but right now you don't need this guy around you. Your head might be thinking straight but your heart will not be. Don't give your heart what it wants (right now).
posted by gadha at 4:04 AM on April 10, 2008

easy_being_green: "I don't think there is a standard recipe for moving on. Everyone does it differently. Your reactions to his indecisiveness are very logical and comprehensively address all his issues. Keep doing what you're doing and you'll get over him eventually."

Seconding this. There is no standard recipe but there is a standard cliche which I think applies. Time heals all wounds. Give it time, and you will find not only that you've moved on from him, but that you've also probably found that special someone you want to be with.

For what its worth, with the one girl I had trouble moving on from I found that meditation was a huge help. Try looking into that and see if that helps you. I also found that taking the time to get to know yourself before looking for someone new, and becoming happy with being single, helped me a lot.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:05 AM on April 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

first paragraph:

stop telling yourself what everyone thinks of you, it's probably not true, and will only limit you
posted by Salvatorparadise at 5:48 AM on April 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh, there's a recipe all right. Get away from him. Take better care of yourself. Find new friends.
posted by ewkpates at 6:10 AM on April 10, 2008

Embrace your personal hobbies and interests and find happiness in yourself. If you can choose between sitting and moping around getting out there and doing something fun, make the fun choice. Don't dwell on this stuff, because the damage you can do to yourself in the short term by sulking and dwelling on it too much can be cumulative.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 7:57 AM on April 10, 2008

I got over being dumped by my first love (I was 33 at the time) by hitch-hiking up the east coast of Australia to northern New South Wales with not much more than a backpack, a change of clothes, a hammock, a sleeping bag and a tarpaulin. I spent a week camped at The Channon (a sweet little village near Lismore), doing not much but lying in the increasingly damp hammock as rain seeped along the support ropes. Did a lot of thinking, that week.

Back to Melbourne, I eventually found a spot in a very cheap ten-bedroom share house with an unstable population of mostly drug-addled lunatics, and decided to devote the next three years to learning to live happily on as little money (and therefore as little Work) as possible. This helped to some extent (having a project is generally a Good Thing) but I didn't really stop feeling broken and wrong until a few months later, when I was lucky enough to meet a lovely woman who wanted to share my bed a few times without getting all deep and serious about it.

Later that same year, I met an even lovelier woman who did deep and serious really, really well. We've been together for twelve years now, and married for seven.

You're hurting now, but I think you're on the right track to not hurting. Get some distance, some time and some perspective, and you'll be fine.
posted by flabdablet at 8:25 AM on April 10, 2008

Stop reading Cosmo, stop basing your life on tropes, and stop being concerned with drama.

Look, you're a late bloomer, so you're acting like a bit of a high schooler. Which means drama, drama, drama, and includes not being able to be in healthy relationships and not knowing how to recover from relationships.

From reading this question, I got a big ol' sense of you wanting to hear "I know, right?" and be validated, and that's what I think some of the other folks here are doing. And you are vaguely on the right track: moving away from him, deciding to do things for yourself first, etc. On the other hand, when I see bits like thinking that all guys diss you because you're too smart or not exactly what they want, or that you were willing to settle for this guy because you knew you were good enough for him? Wrong, wrong, wrong (and don't even get me started on the idea that guys from other races are incompatible de facto).

So stop living your life like it's a movie, stop reducing things to clich├ęs, look around for things that you enjoy doing because you enjoy doing them, stop canonizing the idea of relationships having one arc, and get over yourself.
posted by klangklangston at 11:55 AM on April 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

There is no rules to get over someone; at the base of it, it is chemical. Your brain has become addicted to the love-chemical (oxytocin) while the logical portion is fighting this addiction with rationalization, plans and drastic behavioral modification/manipulation. You have enough self-aware and detachment to understand that the real fear you face isn't the break-up, but the "out-of-control" aspect of your situation. Being in love for the first time can be scary that way, since you don't have the tool nor the experience to deal with strong attachment. With time and experience, you will know how to handle it better.

I suggest you confer with a few people you trust. Ideally, these people should know you well, and extra bonus if they know about your relationship and your boyfriend. What you want from these few people are objective analysis of your relationship and your goal. Uninvolved parties can see things that you don't, and can advise with less emotion. Make a list of things that you think are relevant and take the analysis into consideration. Then, make a decision about what you want to do with this relationship. You may decide that this relationship is worth pursuing, or you may not. Either way, have a decision that you believe is *right for you* is crucial. It will get you out of this uncertainty and let you move forward again.

Suppose you want to stay together; then have a frank discussion with this man. Discuss your compatibilities and differences, and discuss where each of you want to be, when and how. Then you can negotiate on a common path. Don't be too religious about fix milestones; people doesn't mature on a schedule. However, for yourself, you should set out a schedule to reevaluate the situation. People changes. You, your goals and the relationship will change. At times, you will need to evaluate the compatibility of all these elements; see how they all fit with each other and how to proceed. If at anytime you want to breakup, then simply stop seeing the man for as long as you need to remove the mutual influence. When there is no relationship, you only need to focus on yourself and your goal. Do the needful to get you to where you want.

You are inexperience and your worldview is rigid. There are many possibilities out there and many paths to achieve your goal. Enrich your life (dating, FWB, breakup), open yourself up to more possibilities (single,in-love,is-loved, dating across cultural barriers...) and you will learn how to handle yourself in the many nuances of a relationship. You will be able to accept others without prejudice; and accept yourself uncritically. You will know how to create what you want without drama. The ultimate goal is living in truth, love and happiness.
posted by curiousZ at 9:03 PM on April 12, 2008

Response by poster: thanks a million to all for the comments. These are life lessons (thanks for MeFi) that a bookworm such as i can never get from books alone. I appreciated the soft answers and the tough ones too. I needed this wakeup call from the drama because it was messing with my mind. I'm just want to move on and shape up.
posted by prudie at 10:32 PM on April 13, 2008

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