What Can We Learn from Our Past Relationships?

Learning Curves on LoveLearning Curves on Love

By Samantha Laratta for BounceBack.com

There should be an operation manual for falling in love, staying in love, and walking away from love with something resembling dignity (preferably the real thing, but a no-frills jump-start kit would be equally useful during the first few weeks). I have yet to meet anyone who has all the right answers or anyone who can honestly admit to practicing what he or she preaches. Nobody seems to have it all figured out.

Related: Are Your Relationships Keeping You From Becoming Your Best Self?

My first shot at being in love was tricky and confusing. I mean, was it love or just a crush, and is there a litmus test for this? My high school sweetheart was just that- he was an absolute sweetheart and we were in high school. This was my first real attempt at a relationship. Suffice it to say that I failed with flying colors. We dated, went to prom, after which I dumped him (well, I made us dump the label but we continued to date and make out like, well, a couple of hormonal teenagers, for months after). When he told me he loved me for the first time, I demanded an explanation. I tripped over every significantly emotional step we took, and, to my horror, not much has changed since then.

When I met my next lover, all emotional bets were off. My heart had a mind of its own and ran around screaming from mountain tops, "This is my boyfriend and I love him!" He made everything feel like home and instilled in me a powerful sense of worth and happiness that I often equate with my parallel universe, a fantasy world full of phish food ice cream and long bus rides. He was my whole life, and I managed to destroy every last bit of us (quite literally as I have no memorabilia except for a pinwheel he made me and a handful of pictures that represent a mere fraction of the time we spent together). The guy made me a pinwheel. He gave me tulips on my birthday and shaved my head for fun. What more could a girl ask for? Heartache and regret apparently.

Related: When One Door Closes, Another One Will Open

My past mistakes and misfortunes, fumbles and blunders haunt me to the point of (insanely) acute self-awareness. Every move I make, every decision and indecision are all so calculated and consciously executed. Aside from a mild case of ADD and consistent procrastination, most of my kinks have been worked out.

Ok, I can't cook but I can clean like there is no tomorrow! I might possibly be the (relatively) perfect girlfriend by now, but may never know it. Love continues to elude me. I do it sometimes, I dabble in it, and I am allegedly open to it. But as full as my dance card is, I am still essentially single. For now.

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