What I Wish I Knew Before I Fell In Love For The First Time

Although I had dated before, my first real love didn’t come into my life until college. Timothy was an art major in Boston, while I was up at the University of New Hampshire studying creative writing. He was, in my 20-year-old mind, perfect. He could do no wrong, and I loved him deeply. I’ve never loved anyone quite like that since.

We were together just over two years. I think even then I knew that we wouldn’t be together forever. We were at the start of our adult lives, and no matter how much we loved each other, change and experience would form us differently, and we’d eventually part ways. Although I knew that clearly then, there were still things that I was clueless to before I fell in love — feelings and complications that I really wish someone had warned me about beforehand. Here’s what I wish I knew back then:

  1. Love makes you act irrationally. It’s so true! I never realized what type of thoughts I was even capable of until I fell in love. For the first time in my life, I was willing to die for someone, if I had to. That’s how much I loved him.
  2. Love makes you sick. Every time Timothy and I fought, which wasn’t often, I’d feel sick. It wasn’t a sickness that I thought I felt, but a legitimate nausea that I couldn’t escape.
  3. It’s definitely not as easy as it looks in the movies. Not even close. Being in love, staying in love, and making love work requires so much effort, trust, compromise, and communication — a lot of which I was too young to master at 20.
  4. You my want a storybook romance, but you’re not going to get it. It’s like the end of Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts says she wants the fairy tale – except in the real world, you’re not going to get it. In Boston, the only people on horses are the cops (and they’re not even on white horses).
  5. It’s OK to have expectations for your partner. Although you should love people for who they are, it’s still OK to have expectations of them. If they say they’re going to call and they don’t, you’re allowed to be concerned. If that behavior happens all the time, you’re allowed to get mad. You’re not trying to change them by asking them to hold up their end of the bargain.
  6. You can actually ache from missing someone. Because Timothy was in Boston and I was in New Hampshire, we’d spend most of the week apart, and the pain of being without him was real. Similar to the nausea that I experienced when we fought, the pain of being without him would start after just a few hours of being apart. It was something that I had only read about it, but never really believed until I experienced it myself.
  7. Love changes. I had heard this, but never really understood it until I was in love with Timothy. From the first realization that I was in love to the day we said goodbye, our love had changed. Not in a bad way, but it had indeed evolved.
  8. It’s hard to stay friends after a breakup. I’d always hoped that Timothy and I would be able to remain friends after the breakup, but it just didn’t happen. Although we eventually became friends, it wasn’t until five years later. Since then, with every relationship I’ve had, I’ve learned and relearned that staying friends with an ex is just impossible – at least not until your wounds have healed and you have half a decade of time since things ended.
  9. You never really get over your first love. Totally cliché, but totally true: You never totally get over your first love. I’ve never stopped loving Timothy. I will love him until the die I day, and although my love for him is nothing like it used to be, of the men who have come and gone since him, he’s the only one who has remained a constant in my heart.
Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.