Let’s call him Max. Max and I started dating my senior year of high school. I wrote him a note in class that (jokingly) professed my crush on him. I was half serious at the time, but Max thought it was funny and wrote me one back, including his number in the post script. Max and I began texting regularly and pretty soon ended up hanging out. He was my first kiss (at 18 years old), my first real date (to Chik-fil-a), my first love, and my first real heartbreak. Max was there for me when my grandmother passed away and while my parents got a divorce. His mom loved me and took care of me like her own. His sister, usually reserved, came down and watched movies with us, talked with us, cooked with us. For about 10 months we dated. But it wasn’t all ideal.
Max kept me a secret. To this day I don’t know why and it always bothers me. I think he just thought it would be easier that way. There would be nothing to explain to our friends. It wouldn’t be awkward when we all hung out. But other than his mom, he didn’t tell anyone, and it made me feel like he was ashamed of me. I ended up telling his best friend, Pete, just to have someone to talk to about it. From this, Pete and I became close too, and to this day he’s really the only one who knows my full feelings about Max.
Max also had issues that I couldn’t control. Not saying that I don’t have issues, but his were a lot more apparent. Tragedy struck his family at an early age, and it seemed that he was always looking for acceptance and attention from people–mostly girls. He was constantly texting other girls. I don’t think he ever cheated on me physically, but I know he did emotionally. One of his exes texted me and said I was stealing her best friend. He also went on a date with another girl in our friend group. Since our relationship was a secret, she had no idea about us and I couldn’t blame her. But I liked him too much to break up with him.
One day I remember him falling asleep watching TV, and his phone was right there beside him. This was before phones had passwords. I wanted to look in it so bad. I almost did. I remember picking it up, turning it over and few times, and then putting it back down. Not because I felt bad. Not because I trusted him. But because a part of me knew that if I saw what was in that phone I would have no choice but to break things off with him, and I didn’t want to do that. I was in too vulnerable a place in my life to end things with the one person keeping me sane. After Max and I broke up, I promised myself I would never feel that way again.
Max went away to college and I stayed home. I spiraled into a depression, mostly from family issues, but also form hating my new school and athletic team. Max had become more distant, and we only talked a couple times a week. I went out to see him once that fall of our freshman year, where we shared our last kiss on his college campus, and two weeks later I call him. I knew it was time when I had stopped crying every night. I knew I had run out of tears, of patience, of waiting. As much as I loved Max, I knew it was time to end things. So I did.
For a while we tried to stay friends, but it didn’t really amount to anything. I think things ended in too hurtful of a way for us. Max is married now. He has a beautiful wife and hopefully a very happy life. I wish him nothing but the best, because, looking back at things now, Max was exactly what I needed when I needed it. From our relationship I learned self-respect, self-worth, and how to let things go. I grew immensely. Therefore, to me, Max was not a waste of time. I try to never regret anything that taught me something, and I certainly don’t regret dating Max.
I wanted to share this simply because it laid the foundation for all my other dating exploits. It kind of explains how I got to be how I am, and probably why I’m so guarded with men now. Max was my first love and loss, but he certainly wasn’t the last. I go back to dating Max all the time and wonder if I would have changed anything, but I don’t think I would. I think we all end up where we need to be sooner or later, and I know for Max and I, we helped each other grow into the people that we’ve become now, and for that, I will always be grateful to him.