Welcome to HeartbreakPosted: August 18, 2015
Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.
People never approach their first, true romance with a clean slate. Life is too turbulent for that. Still, the first romance is experienced with a certain naïveté that can be forever lost after it ends, but remains necessary for a future love to work.
This is certainly true in my case. My first real connection came at 18 and I fell quickly. I did the sort of cheesy cringe-inducing things for her that I frown upon so much now that I can’t even bring myself to list them. She was constantly on my mind, and everything I did seemed better as a result. I was hooked after I lost my virginity to her, fully comitted to taking her ride no matter where I’d end up.
A friend of mine who had long since lost his innocence congratulated me that night, but told me to keep it moving to the next. I didn’t listen, and I don’t regret it, but within a year I had sunk into misery. She was constantly on my mind, and everything I did seemed pointless as a result.
My innocence was gone, and I grew bitter as I waved her off after another year of wrestling between the choice of being miserable with her or miserable without her. At first my hurt was childish, vowing never to date again. For a year, I consciously bounced from woman to woman with no regard for their emotions, instead seeking to make up for lost physical experiences.
Eventually though, the hurt matured into something more complex. I didn’t have to choose to avoid deep emotional connections with women, because I never felt that sort of affection developing. Bright and shining colours that had once intrigued and scared me had dulled to unremarkable greys – not something I would avoid, but also nothing I would particularly remember.
I often wonder if my problem is external (not meeting the right women), or internal (not being in the right space to connect with anyone I do meet). External is the simple answer, but in the last few years I’ve cycled through enough women to make it unlikely that the problem could always be them. This nagging concern has been amplified by the fact that on multiple occasions I’ve been told that I’m cold. That it doesn’t really seem like I care. That they feel like it wouldn’t make a difference to me if they were here today and gone tomorrow.
Now, over five years after my youthful naivete was paved over with a series of bleak and monotonous encounters, I’ve come across someone at the beginning of their journey. When I met her she had never gone on a date or kissed anyone. Everything is new for her, and I’ve been privileged enough to be able to gain her affection. This means that I’ll set the precedent for what having a man in her life in a romantic sense means.
This experience has been intriguing for me precisely because she has never immersed herself in the murky waters of dating before. I’m used to being with women who, while not as jaded as me, certainly carry some baggage from past men into their encounters with me. Her nervous joy was infectious, initially, making me feel as though her first kiss was among my first instead of being the latest in a series of women numerous enough to fill a small lecture hall.
A couple of months have passed since we casually began to see each other, and she’s starting to become enamored with me. Now I realize that sooner or later she’s going to be disappointed, hurt, and, most unfortunately, stripped of her naïveté. I truly enjoy her company, and respect her deeply, but I can’t bring myself to date her, for reasons unfathomable to me, but which have been plaguing me since my first love, my first wound.
She knows about this. I warned her from the beginning; I’ve never lied about my inability to see any major benefits in relationships. Only one honorable option remains: end relations with her.
Unfortunately, I’ve waded in indecisiveness for too long, consumed by selfishness. I could have set her free, or given myself to her fully. But I did neither and watched her grow more attached, while rationalizing my irresponsibility, and delaying the inevitable. The end will come eventually, and I worry that I’ll become a scar on her psyche, the same way that I’ve romanticized my first affection and also allowed it to tarnish the potential of future relationships.
It’s too late to escape without hurting her. It’s clear that I’m no better than the woman who hurt me. Instead, I’m complicit in this nasty cycle of pain, too cowardly to admit it and opt out before the stakes get even higher.
Read more by Luca on love, sex & dating after converting to Islam, here.
Luca [pen name] is a journalist living in Canada.