Falling in Love for the First Time

My heart was broken but it doesn't make me any less of a man; in fact, I'm better for it.

by E.M.

My senior year started out amazing. I was on top of all my work, getting the best scores I could get, and making new friends. I was about to become the second person in my family to graduate high school.

Adding to my excitement, I also met a girl who sat next to me in English class. We had our first conversation during a test, when she whispered to me, “Hey, what’s the answer for the back side?” I didn’t mind giving her the answer.

Soon we began having regular conversations and she mentioned playing for the school soccer team. I couldn’t believe it! She liked soccer too! I thought watching her play would be a great way to spark our friendship.

I went to one of her games. She was gorgeous, I thought. She was short, skinny with perfect teeth and a strong jawline, and wore her black hair in a ponytail that swung from side to side as she ran down the field. I watched her taking on players from the opposite team, constantly moving with the ball, in full control, while trying to get closer to the goal. That’s when I realized what an impressive player she was. I liked it.

With just a few minutes left in the game, she jumped in the air to head the ball into the net. It was amazing. I clapped for her while I watched her celebrate with her team. The game ended 1-1, but even though her team didn’t win, I was glad I had been there. It made me want to get closer to her and spend more days together.

Waiting for More Moments Like This

We kept talking at school, and we became closer chatting on Instagram at night. I saw she had a lot of potential as a writer and as an athlete. She denied it, which revealed a humble side of her that I liked. She also kept me laughing, and was playful at times—teasing me, calling me a “baby” since I was a few months younger than her.

Once a week, I walked her to her internship at a hospital. She wanted to become a nurse. One day she asked, “Do you like bubble tea?”

“Yes, what’s your favorite flavor?”


“Mine too, but I haven’t had bubble tea in the longest.”

So we entered a store about four blocks away from the hospital. I insisted on paying for my own drink, but she wouldn’t let me. I knew treating me was a nice thing for her to do, but I prefer paying for my own things; I’m not the type of person who likes having things given to me without earning it. But since I liked her so much, I just laughed it off.

I couldn’t wait for more moments like this.

It Felt Like Her Words Were Only for Me

Around the month of December, we began walking each other to class, holding hands while our friends looked at us and giggled. It was fun passing notes during English class; we wrote “Marry me?” and “I like you,” and drew flowers and hearts. I had never done that with anyone before. I couldn’t wait to see where this would take us.

I wanted to do something special to impress her and decided to make a promposal. I went to her friends and asked them for help and they agreed. We made a group chat with a distinctive name: “music class,” as a coverup for our plan, so she wouldn’t suspect a thing. I was nervous, yet determined to make this happen just to make my only one happy.

She showed signs of commitment, saying the best things I thought I could hear, whether it was planning a future together or marriage. Even if we were just goofing around, I felt like she meant these words only for me.

I was also inspired by her—the work she did in school, how hard she played soccer, and her desire to be a nurse—which made me want to be like her, full of potential and courage. I loved her for making me want to strive for more. I thought she was perfect.

What Went Wrong?

In the beginning of February, she and the other seniors went on the senior weekend trip. I couldn’t go because I didn’t have enough money.

I was looking forward to seeing her again, but when she returned, she stopped talking to me. She didn’t respond to my texts or phone calls. There were no more hugs, holding hands, or notes. Just a quiet class where we sat next to each other for the period. I was confused, lost like a tourist without a guide.

It went like this for a week, and although I tried not to overreact, I decided to do something about it. During lunch one day, I sat next to her and asked, “Why is there no affection between us anymore? Was it something I did?”

“No, you didn’t do anything,” she replied.

I didn’t believe that. I felt there was nobody but me to blame.

I began overthinking and feeling insecure. Was it something I did? Was I not good enough? Was I not the person she expected me to be? These thoughts overflowed in my head like a tsunami.

It broke my heart just thinking that things had ended and they’d never go back to the way they were. In class, or in the hallway, there was just awkward silence between us, and me trying not to look at her, as I knew it would shatter my heart into pieces.

It was the only thing on my mind when I got up from bed and before I went to sleep. I didn’t enjoy school; I didn’t even want to go since I’d see her again. I was also acting differently outside of school, constantly being angry at others for no reason, and wanting to be alone.

Then with her birthday coming up, I had an idea, a final hope that I could bring back the spark that we had. I drew a bouquet of flowers on a note saying “Yes” to a pen writing “Marry me” that she wrote a while back on my notebook. I started writing a poem to her too:

“Imagine finding someone as perfect as you
With a perfect smile
With a perfect attitude”

But then I just gave up. I cried the Saturday before her birthday knowing she was no longer interested in me. I figured she had connected with someone else on that school trip. While I cried, I wrote another poem that was only meant for me, reflecting on our memories and the feelings I had for her.

Working on Myself

Then suddenly, I woke up one Monday in April, thinking, I am done being sad over her.

I threw out the unfinished love poem I wrote, and the drawings, notes, and other poems of how I felt about her. The group chat with her friends for the promposal had faded out with the pandemic.

I decided to work on improving myself by doing my hobbies such as drawing, writing poetry, walking my dog, playing soccer, and running.

It has been a challenge to get over her. Even though I don’t see her anymore since school closed back in March, I still think about her at times.

But I learned that being heartbroken is not the end of the world. By realizing it’s something that everyone goes through, whether you’re a jock, a poet, or an actor, you can get to know yourself better emotionally and become a stronger person, particularly if you can realize there is something better for you out there in the future.

I have a new hobby too: reading romance novels. One of my favorite novels, Wasted Words by Staci Hart, has given me a sense of what a love story can be, helping me realize that making mistakes are part of being in a relationship. Reading this book gives me hope that there’s someone out there for me and that I can have a happy love story of my own one day.

Discussion Questions

1. How does it feel to have your affection for someone returned?
2. What effect does E.M.’s heartache have on him?
3. What do you think of the writer’s decision to work on himself instead of focusing on what he lost?
4. At the end of the story, E.M. says that “making mistakes are part of being in a relationship.” What do you think about this statement?

Why is there no affection between us anymore? Was it something I did?
Explore All Topics