Bad romanceI don’t think anybody takes it on the chin like women when it comes to failed romances. Men will have one bad experience in like the fourth grade and be scarred forever. We gals, on the other hand, take a lickin’ and, for the most part, we keep on tickin’.

I survived three years, seven months, one week, and two days of break-ups and make-ups with my first love. In addition to my beautiful Girl Child, that outfit produced more tearful phone calls, more emergency girlfriend pow-wows, more drama in general than I care to admit. So when we finally broke up, I was quite content in my all-men-are-bums phase. But my bitterness was cut short.

I expected to fall in love again like I expect a traffic cop to tear up a half-written ticket, like I expect to find a pair of size 7 BCBG stilettos waiting for me on the clearance rack, like I expect a $100 bill to fall out of a birthday card from my auntie. Suffice it to say that it was a surprise. 

One balmy evening in the same year as The Crash (that’s how I refer to the dreaded breakup with the child’s dad), I was out on a routine club night when a beautifully chocolatey man strolled around the corner. Wrapped in a 6'1", 200-odd-pound package was a quietly intelligent, laid-back but funny guy, complete with not one, but two jobs. Our meeting left my girlfriends scrambling over street corners and nightclub dance floors trying to find a reasonable facsimile.

But for all of that guy’s near-perfection, I couldn’t get my logical self and my emotional self to jive. My brain said: Girl, please. This man is a blessing, especially after all the grief that has-been put you through. My heart whined: Yeah, but where’s the spark when I stand close to him, the marathon phone conversations late into the night, the jittery butterflies when I see his car pull up in front of my house? I had a ball when I was with him. The man was just downright silly, much like yours truly (we were a dangerous combination out on the city streets). Plus he was well-read and we could discuss and debate anything from music to the Maafa.

But it was that first-love euphoria that had kept me nuts (literally) about the same man for the greater part of my four-year college experience. And it was a re-creation of that same euphoria that I expected to define a second love, and if need be, a third and a fourth.

While I was mentally tabulating my new man's score in his bout against the memory of my first main squeeze, the big L was already lying in wait, inconspicuously setting me up to fall. Unlike the first round TKO, love didn’t smack me upside the head and instantly smite me. This time, a couple of slow but strategic shots to the heart took me under. Like him, the relationship was slow and steady, and it showed me that love is never the same twice.

I remember when I was a card-carrying member of the She-Ra Man Haters Club. (And let’s keep it real — sometimes I do suffer from relapses). I wasted a whole year of my life chasing after a dude who didn’t want to be caught. But when I finally got my wits about myself, my new man completely changed how I expected to be treated by a guy. I anticipated that love was going to show up one way, but it reset my mindset and challenged what I thought I already knew. And that was well worth giving a second (and if need be, a third and fourth) chance to get right.

How many times have you been in love and how have you changed from that first time?


Image via The Sean & Lauren Spectacular/Flickr