The very first time someone asked me out, it was as a joke.
In tenth grade, I was sitting by the pool at the beach in Santa Monica, waiting for someone. It was my first day at the beach, and I was shy and nervous because I had never met anyone there before.
A cute boy sitting a few years ahead went, “Hey, I remember you! You’re the one who got me asked out that time.”
At first, I thought he was talking about the wet T-shirt I wore the other day — I hadn’t even been wearing it all year. But then I realized he was serious.
I remember the body language of our small exchange: him holding my arms, my legs wrapped around his waist, our thighs touching, us both smiling. It was an instant classic.
Looking back, I realize it was the first time most anyone had ever seen me in person. So I had to wonder, What the hell is going on here?
I had just spent the whole summer learning how to walk and talk — both of which are very physically demanding. Yet, despite spending the entire summer immersed in one person, I had yet to truly bond with him.
Why can’t I find someone to date? I want to have fun and get married!
As an awkward teen, it was hard for me to understand that there was a difference between enjoying a friendship and falling in love.
So, I acted like I loved him, pretending to care about him. I wanted to like him so much that I ignored all other things and spent all my time on him.
Was that love? Were we in love? Did I even like him as a person?
In the end, I realized I had acted like a 14-year-old girl. I was so young, and so unaware of the differences between being in love and being in love.
So, I did what any sane person would do when they found out: I ended things.
I ended my relationship with the boy who had initially been holding me hostage. I ended things because I realized I wasn’t in love with him. I didn’t love him — I desperately wanted to like him, but I didn’t love him as a person.
If he was the sort of person I could live without, I didn’t care. I was just afraid he might be a better person than I was.
I was just afraid of getting to know him better.
As I grew up and entered my twenties, I’ve had a change of heart about some of my old relationships. I’ve loved some of my exes, and I’ve loved others.
I’ve needed to admit to myself that some relationships just aren’t meant to be.
It can be scary to realize you’re in love with someone and that you want to spend time with them. It’s often followed by a fear that this will change everything and you’ll spend your life with this person.
But when you’re in love with someone, you don’t need to be afraid. You just need to do your best to be happy for them, be their best friend, and enjoy the time you have with them.
Here are the most important things I’ve learned about falling in love and staying in love.
I never thought I’d fall in love with my best friend.
When we were younger, I thought my best friend was the person I sat on the bed next to when I had a problem and she’d solve it for me. She was the person I told everything to.
The person I thought I’d be connected with all my life was now the person I was connected with all the way through my life — we were best friends.
Our friendship was important to me, and it was our friendship that eventually would allow me to have a relationship with my ex-girlfriend.
Our relationship was important to her, so she wanted to be a part of my life.
But I didn’t think I’d be the person to give her the love and attention she deserved. I didn’t think I’d be that person, and so I was afraid.
Once I realized I wanted to be with her, I let go of my fear and opened myself up to being what I really wanted: her friend.
I settled into the role of the “support friend.” I told her telling her what I was experiencing and encouraging her to be happy. I went out of my way to say “thank you” when she thanked me for what I did for her. And I used my relationships as an opportunity to be more selfless, to support her in ways I never would have if I had been more supportive of my own dreams or of my friends.
I learned to be a better friend.
I became a more effective support friend.
Supporting your friends is a kind of magic. It feels like magic because it’s rare.