Mine happened over a longer period of time. My very close cousin was bugging me to go to my Senior prom. I insisted that I wouldn't go unless I had someone I really wanted to go with. So being kind-hearted she started slowly inviting one of her friends over while I was there or asking if I'd join them out. I did. It seemed like an OK match, I wanted a girl, and she had broken up with a total jerk a couple months ago. At first I was indifferent. She was cool, but I wasn't noticing I was falling for her. It kept progressing, and after the prom we started dating.

My cousin suddenly told me it wasn't meant to be more than the prom. I can't see her. Being a fool, I didn't listen. My cousin insisted she wasn't ready and that she wasn't what she seemed. I ignored her.

Months later I was entirely in love. Life was different. For the first time I could read love poems, or listen to songs and not only know what they meant, but feel it too. We spent the entire summer together, and both of our families encouraged the relationship. I finally got up the nerve to say "I love you" to her weeks later. I'd never said it before, because I would not have meant it. I left myself vulnerable. All I got in return was silence. Silence...

But eventually I wanted to make sure that this relationship was pure, that she and I were steady partners, that she was not seeing anyone else. At first it was to please her as she got very jealous of my hanging out with a couple girls I've known for years.

And thats why it hit me hard when she didn't say she wanted to make it the relationship. She said she needed time.

Months more passed, but things got progressively worse. She started openly seeing other guys, insisting they were just friends like the girls I saw were. Only thing was I've know my friends for over 5 years. The guys she saw were the same guys who picked her up at clubs or in the mall when she was with her friends.

She kept seeing the guys and refusing to acknowledge me to them or her ex-boyfriend whom she spoke with regularly. One night he called late, and I was just leaving her house. Knowing they always fought and that she felt horrible when talking to him, I walked around the house to say "I love you" in her bedroom window as I left. But instead I heard her telling her ex that I was nothing to her that I was just another guy she was using for free dinners and movies. I was devastated. That was what really did it. And that wasn't the only time something like that happened with her...

I left her for good at Christmas. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. And all she did was say OK. When she heard I was hanging out with another girl weeks later, she also sent a nasty email. Thank God, I got away from her...

... not completely, anyway. I know I've been dwelling on this one recently, but i can't help it. Two years ago today, Lisa, my first serious girlfriend, died. I was away at school when it happened. It ripped me apart, it almost killed me. I guess if you want a first approximation of what she meant to me, you'd better see my writeup about her. The wounds are not only not healed, they're festering. I don't cry myself to sleep anymore, but neither am I a whole person. It's made relationships difficult. I'm seeing a shrink, and it's helping, but I don't know if I'll ever be normal again.

It was almost seven years ago. And only a short period of time when we were together, but yet, sometimes, something rips the wound open again, and all that pain comes rushing back. It's usually not something very important that brings the feelings back, and I forget what did it, but I'll never forget that time...

I was helping out the student activities board that night. I had just arrived back at college, and my friend ran the board, so I was happy to help him set up the sound system, and take it down after the event for the freshmen.

We were sitting nearby, talking and joking, a few of us, not even paying attention to whatever they were telling those freshmen. As things were letting out, I saw another friend of mine. He introduced us to a friend back from his hometown.

It hit me immediately as my heart fluttered and skipped a beat. I can't say what it was that caused this reaction, as there wasn't anything that seemed exceptional - except that it was to me.

I couldn't seem to shake that face from my mind for the next couple weeks, even though I didn't see it again. But fate always likes to tease you. My group of friends finally added a new person, and when I saw who it was, it was if I had been blessed.

I didn't waste any time in starting conversation, though trying to keep it just friendly at first. There's nothing worse than scaring someone off by trying too hard. So I made sure to avoid any obvious special treatment, trying to act as if it's just another friendship. But I couldn't help being preferential, doing just a little more than I would to other friends, being just a touch nicer, flirting just a little more than I normally do.

It was incredible. I had a very high expectation of the personality to go with that appearance, a personality which turned out to be even better than I could ever have hoped. An incredibly kind heart, a smile for everyone, a childish innocence and sillyness that fit me so well.

It was clear I wasn't the only one thinking about it. It didn't take all that long, and finally, at the right moment, there was that first kiss. It wasn't like other first kisses, hesitant, fumbling, nervous. Yes, I was nervous, as every part of me yearned for this. The beauty of the kiss reflects the person being kissed... and I was changed at that moment...

For the next week, I was an entirely different person. I could feel myself glowing, blushing, with a happiness that couldn't be found in the tropical breeze on an island beach, or the smell of a field of wildflowers. I was in love.

But it only lasted a week. The next week, I could feel the drawing away, the step back. I could feel myself withering, turning brown. I knew it was coming, yet I denied it, having been a place that I didn't feel I could leave.

Those words... "I'm not ready for a relationship"... a poison arrow into the heart. The world crumbling around me. Not even sure if I could go on.

But that wasn't bad enough.

A short time later, I saw something that made it ten times worse. The one who had sent me flying through the skies, holding hands, kissing, someone else. One of my friends.

That day, my heart was ripped apart with a tremendous force. One so bad, that it has not healed after seven years. It's better, but the wound is always there, ready to be bumped by a stray thought, and bring the pain back. You'd think someone could avoid crying over a long gone relationship...

But I've never felt that way since, and some days, it does still hurt.

Her name was Kate.

I thought my heart was healed. In fact, it was just pretending. The outer skin was intact with no visible signs of scarring, but there was a much deeper wound. One that I was not aware of. Let me explain.

My relationship with G started in the summer of '92. Like all good relationships, we started out as friends. Eventually, we both knew it was much more. The fact that he lived more than 1000 miles away was of no concern to us. Even when we dated other people, we were always conscious of the other. We ended every phone call with "I love you". All who knew us assumed we would end up together someday...some way.

Our conversations eventually drifted farther and farther apart. I only received an occasional email (once every few months). But they all still ended with "I love you".

Finally, there was the confrontation. A letter from me asking what was happening, what he was thinking. He called. We talked about it. He beat around the bush...nothing was resolved.

A few weeks ago I got an email from him asking how I was doing, how was the family, and...oh yeah...he was getting married in November.

my heart rips wide open again...

This is not to say that I don't love my current SO, because I do. Still words cannot describe the pain I felt. ...there is no other pain quite like that of an unresolved relationship when you know it is over once and for all...

He asked me once, when it was all over (as over as it's gotten so far) if I regretted it. I said no, of course, because what else do you say to your object of infatuation? But the question snuck its way into my unconscious, taking a look at this and at that considering, nodding sagely to itself, occasionally making the low, long whistle you associate with repairmen and then, finally, nudging me. Going "Oh... hey, by the way, your answer's yes".

He was my first boyfriend, first love, first sexual partner, in that order. I'd noticed him around campus, here and there, before I knew his name. I still remember the flash of keen interest when I first saw him, although I don't remember the place. I never thought I would actually get to know him. I don't seem very good at talking to people I think I'll like, but I was happily surprised when he turned out to be the friend of a friend, therefore easily accessible for me to practice on.

He was with another girl, tiny and elfin-pretty and athletic, and I didn't think I should or really, truthfully could compete. He even offered once; she was very Christian, and he was very horny, and they'd come to an 'agreement'. I still said no, there's no way she'd really feel good about that, remembering her glares, and he regretfully agreed. I was still thrilled - it was the closest to romance that I'd ever been.

And then they broke up

A few weeks later, she'd found another boyfriend, although there were suspicious murmurs that it was just a stand-in for her previous relationship. I, in my joyful naiveté, paid no heed as he had started flirting with me, yet another novel experience. Over the spring break we talked long into the night, and decided that we should start kind of going out. (he wanted it to seem natural) I wondered a bit if it was too soon, but hey, his ex had hooked up, so why not?

His ex began promising him that she'd now give in and 'fool around'. She asked him to come over, just for a hug. She gave him mournful, soulful looks. And I didn't care, because I knew where she was coming from, after all. Wasn't I now learning to appreciate this boy? How terrible it would be to lose him, and of course it'd take her some time to get over it - in the meantime, she had all my sympathy.

The thing I miss the most about myself is that I meant it genuinely.

We had a blissful few months during the year. I was feeling all sorts of novel things, delighting in them for the sake of their newness as well as for their intrinsic value. Slowly, and surely I began to fall in love. His perfectly matched sense of humor, his silliness, the fact that he knew when to stop being silly, his wit and breathtaking competence with a computer (competence is sexy). He kind of brought it up once, saying he wasn't sure how he felt, but it made me realize how I did. And I told him that I love you. I don't remember when he started, but he did start saying 'I love you' back. At that point, the only thing marring my happiness was the thought of summer, since he lived so far away.

The summer was enlightening. I started learning what a bitch it is to be without the one you love, how lonely I could feel. We emailed each other all of the time, as he got more and more frustrated with the limited contact. Eventually, he asked about how I felt about him fooling around with other girls.

Did I neglect to mention how confidently close his ex was to his house?

Well, I do have a very very strong jealous streak, and so I said no. And although I wasn't sure how well he'd hold to it, I thought he was the kind of person who would at least tell me if he'd done anything.

As the summer went on, his ex visited a couple times, maybe. He also was helping another girl he knew from high school on her webpage. The fact made a slight 'ping' in my brain, but I paid it no mind. I took the train and bus and bus to his house any weekend I could, not being independently mobile, and we had great fun whenever I came over.

Then the school year started, and at first it was just as fun as before. But then he started getting more distant, telling me that he still found himself wanting other people. Desperately, I tried to analyze this response in a way that meant he still liked me. Unsurprisingly, it did not work. A couple weeks into the school year he broke up with me, and I was devastated.

A couple weeks later, as he was fooling around with a new chick, he felt the need to unburden his conscience and tell me that he'd cheated on me with two girls, one being his ex, the other the one he 'helped'. At least he apologized. Not that it was much comfort when I visited a friend's room and saw him and his new chick together on the bed.

Now I'm lonely, in ways that I never knew before. I'm jealous, because of course he's still fooling around with anyone he can, including his ex... well, ex-ex. It doesn't stop anyone I meet from finding her devistatingly attractive, and feeling a need to let me know. My ego has hit an all time low.

I wonder if I'll ever have the courage to tell him that I do regret it. I can't see how it was worth it. I've lost my innocence, and I miss it so much more than my virginity.

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