What I learned about love from my first best friend
I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. I’ve realized something: we don’t all love the same, and that’s OK. We all show love differently. There are affectionate people, comedic people, communicators, and so on. Everyone shows love differently, which people can sometimes forget about.
I had a friend in elementary school who I loved dearly. We were friends from second grade to fourth, and I spent every free moment with her. I can still remember waking up at the crack of dawn to go to the public market, because her parents had a store there. I remember carnivals, impromptu concerts in my bedroom, and late night sleepovers outside on tarps. I loved her unconditionally. I don’t remember judging, or caring about petty things when it came to her. It began as a dream, having her as a friend, and then slowly it wasn’t.
It got to the point where I began shutting all my other friends out. One friend was adamant that he didn’t like her, and I should distance myself, but I didn’t listen to him. As a result, he distanced himself from me. I didn’t realize how single-focused on her I had become, until the day she told me she was moving to Florida. I was devastated, and angry. My parents and I drove down to her house one night to say goodbye, and I couldn’t stop crying. I remember that she wasn’t sad, because her father had gotten her a doll, and that made her happy. I felt confused as to why she wasn’t nearly as upset as I was, and that a simple doll could make her happy. Back then, we both were so young. We were also different people—with different lives and reactions to new situations—a fact I hadn’t totally grasped at the time.
In the past I used to put everything into my relationships. I became so obsessed and excited for one person, that I didn’t realize everyone else slowly fading away. After she left, I was alone. I had no close friends anymore, because I hadn’t worked on maintaining any of them. Sure I had friends, but I was too sad, and self-centered to really notice the people who were still in my life. I’ve grown since then. Every day I need to remind myself that not everyone I call a friend is going to leave me; and every year I become stronger.
The way I love now is less clingy, and I tend to distance myself a little more. I still struggle daily with this fear that everyone will leave, and finding people I feel comfortable around is rare. It takes me longer then I’d like to open up to people. But I don’t get as anxious anymore, and I’m much more confident about speaking up.
My childhood best friend never stayed in one place for long. For this reason she didn’t love the same way I did. I was used to being in one place, and forming solid relationships, whereas she never had to get close to anyone. After she left, and someone didn’t show affection the same way I did I began doubting the relationship. It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I needed to understand that just because someone may be more reserved, or more affectionate then I am, it doesn’t mean that they loved me any less or any more.
I believe that the different ways in which we show love is why a lot of relationships end. We expect more from another person than they’re able to give, or don’t know how to give in the way we expect. That doesn’t make them any less compassionate, but rather different. It’s easy to make assumptions about people when you’re not in their skin, but it’s also not fair. Everyone lives their own lives, has their own paths, and their own way of showing love.
Sometimes the most difficult thing we can do is to love someone who doesn’t love the way we do. Sometimes we need to take a step back and give them space to grow. It’s important to accept the different ways that people care, and it can often times be exhausting to do so. But it’s worth it. While some relationships are just painfully unbalanced, others are just reflections of our own individual expressions of love. We’re all different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love each other in our own unique ways.