My "first love" was Jeff, a decent 17-year-old with a few problems. (Don't we all have them?) I put "first love" in quotes because at the time, I didn't think of myself as being in love with Jeff. What I felt about him didn't match what I saw in the movies or read in books.
I felt intensely about him - I liked him tremendously, I wanted to be with him all the time. I enjoyed myself incredibly when we were together. I wanted to know him better. I was attracted to him. I was interested in everything he had to say. I cared about him. (I still care about him all these years later.)
But I wasn't in that altered state of consciousness that I thought of - and later experienced - as being in love. You know, that high on life, head-over-heels, ecstatic type of feeling.
A few years after Jeff, I did fall in love. Hard.
Jon was tall, blond and great looking. Amazing body, tousled, dirty blond curls, tan, big, muscular, but not too. When he put his arm around me it felt like pure bliss. He was probably the best looking guy I ever met. And he was interested in me!
Very soon after I got over not believing this was happening to me, I fell hard. I'd never felt this way in my life. I wanted to climb the nearest mountain and shout it from the summit: I'm in love!
To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure it would ever happen to me.
It was an incredible feeling. I hardly ate. I was obsessed. And I never felt happier. I had no doubt that this was it. Mr.Right. I'd met him! I started fantasizing about marriage and babies.
But one day, about a month after it all began, he just started acting differently. I knew right away that something was up but he kept saying that nothing was wrong. I felt heartsick. I was watching my dream go down the drain and I didn't know why.
When I finally got him to admit that something HAD changed, this is what he said: "Feelings come and go. That's the way they are. I just don't FEEL it anymore."
You can imagine how devastated I was. At first I didn't want to accept it, but he left me no choice. I cried and cried. I was as miserable as I had been happy. Here I thought I had finally met Mr. Right and he turned out to be a spring fling.
One thing that helped me get over him was reading The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm.
There's a difference, Fromm says, between falling in love and loving. When you fall in love, you do so kind of blindly. You get swept up in a feeling that may or may not have anything to do with the person you're falling in love with.
Fromm says that real love - as opposed to that heady movie-type feeling of falling in love - is CARE, RESPONSIBILITY, RESPECT AND KNOWELDGE.
Think about that. You can only really love someone you know. And that takes time. It means finding out about a person. Hanging out for a while, watching them in action in all kinds of situations.
I now realize that with Jon, it wasn't real love. It sure was a great experience, though, and I don't regret it for a second.
I also realize that with Jeff, even though I wasn't flying high, it was real love.
Funny, isn't it?