The other day, my new dude, Juan, and I were talking about breakups. We both went through bad ones in the past six months or so and he has a female friend who’s in the drinking-and-crying stage of a breakup now. (‘Tis the season, I guess?) After they hung out, Juan told me he could still recall the sting she’s feeling right now.
“I remember how that is: feeling like no one is ever going to love you in the same way again,” he said. “You feel at that time like it couldn’t possibly happen ever again … even though you know logically that it will.”
When he said that, something clicked in me. That’s it. That’s the anxiety that I have been feeling these past three months after the end of a love affair. I have a complete willingness to get back on the saddle but have been feeling like no one is ever going to love me “in the same way again.” The feeling — for whatever reason — that I had only one chance at this.
Tila Tequila gets, like, 45 shots at love. Why did I convince myself that I don’t get more than one?I’ve loved before and been in love before, but I thought my ex-boyfriend was the Big One. We dated longer, said “I love you” sooner, and committed in ways I’d only dreamed about with the ex-boyfriends littered in my past. Frankly, I was surprised by my big love because it was so unlike any other relationship that I had had before. Perhaps I was a little too surprised.
Shortly after Ex-Mr. Jessica and I broke up, I wrote an essay for The Frisky. In it, I explained really well how deeply I was in love (which, I imagine is the way that a lot of us probably feel when we’re in love):
The last almost two years of my life with Mr. Jessica have been the happiest I’ve ever had, no doubt about it. It felt great, though “great” feels like too simple a word—to know that life could feel AMAZING just about every single day of my life, that I could feel joy pulsing through me all the time. People really do feel that way, and I was one of them. Around sophomore year of college, I pretty much stopped smoking pot and getting drunk because it never felt as “fun” or “happy” as I’d assumed it should be. The highs of real life—the dopamine and the oxytocin rushing through my brain, yes, but the solidness I felt paired up with another half—were better than any drug.
So, sharply coming off those highs of dopamine and oxytocin, I convinced myself I had Failed with a capital “F” at love. The narrative I was telling myself in my head was that Ex-Mr. Jessica was my last, best chance. If no one had loved me before like he had, why would anyone in the future? Why should anyone in the future? Ex-Mr. Jessica must have been a rare bird indeed for loving me. A fluke, even. And I flunked it.
I suppose it’s normal to think that way after you just got dumped: you’re sleep-deprived, emotionally vulnerable, and stuffing yourself with junk food. Plus, you just lost one of your vibrators. However, until Juan suggested that he, too, understood what it felt like to believe “no one is ever going to love in the same way again,” I didn’t realize this is a common fear. It’s not just me being “lucky” that I found someone.
Being in love is a special feeling indeed. But “special” doesn’t mean you should be surprised it happened at all and not expect it to ever happen again; it doesn’t mean you were just lucky. On the contrary, that is insecure thinking. All in all, I’ve handled this breakup well: I’ve learned a lot about what I’m made of and what I want from a life partner. But now I realize I was selling myself short by assuming I was somehow unloveable, that his loving me was a fluke, and that I’d only get one chance at a joy-pulsing, all-consuming, life-altering love.
It wasn’t a fluke at all. And Ex-Mr. Jessica wasn’t the Big One. He was just the Big One So Far.