long been accepted that heartbreak is one of the worst pains you can experience in your life. In fact, studies have shown that your brain processes heartbreak in the same way as it does physical pain, so having your heart smashed into pieces does actually physically hurt. Shocker.
This is nothing new. People have known this for years, and I will personally fight anyone who says you need to just get over it because, honey, some of the worst times of my life involved a boy breaking my heart and I stand by that. But recently, some things happened on Love Island that opened up the issue again: Amy and Curtis.
If you watched the show, you know exactly what I’m talking about, but for all those that don’t let me sum it up for you: Curtis told Amy he basically loved her, wanted to marry her, go on holiday together etc. etc. Then she went to a different villa for THREE DAYS and he changed his mind and dumped her instead. Like an arse. And to make matters worse, this was Amy’s first ever break up. Like ever, in her whole life. The girl is 26 years old.
So, it got me thinking about my first break up, at the grand old age of 17. It hurt a lot. The first boy I’d ever dated, ever had sex with, ever said those three terrible little words to, this boy could do no wrong in my eyes. Until one evening he called me up out of the blue to tell me he didn’t love me anymore, and then two days later he was cracking on with his ex in the sixth form common room at the same table I was sat at. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I know how Amy is feeling. Although, granted, I didn’t have to live in the same actual house as him, which was a bonus.
Ultimately though, looking back, I’m really grateful for having that first heartbreak experience, and for having it at a young age. You see, I fell in love with an open mind and a naïve heart, stumbling into an uncomplicated world where we could just be in love and that was that. No having to worry about mortgages, children, joint bank accounts, in-laws (although PSA: his mum did not like me, and to this day I have no idea why) or any of that adult bullshit I have to deal with now. It was raw and it was honest, and it was unflinchingly powerful. And coming out of that was a car crash. A car crash I could only deal with because I was in a period of my life where nothing is forever, and the world is moving around you so quickly you don’t even realise that part of you is missing.
This phenomenon that your first heartbreak is the worst isn’t just speculation as well, it’s been physically proven by psychologists. It’s called the “primacy effect” and it stems from the fact that when we experience firsts in our lives, our minds retain this feeling and memory a lot easier than anything else. It’s because all of our senses are engaged and heightened, whether you’re experiencing your first day at work, your first kiss, or anything in between, so your brain clings on to them. Unfortunately for us, that means it clings on to that first innocent love and puts it up on a pedestal that we compare our love lives to for way, way too long. And it means we remember that pain as if it were only yesterday.
Falling in love and getting my heart broken forced me to confront a pain I’d never experienced, and push in to become a better, stronger person. Sure, that first love is the one and only time you can love without any inhibitions, or self-preservation, but what comes after is so much more substantial and, to be quite honest, safe.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that the heartbreaks I’ve endured since haven’t hurt just as much, but they hurt in a completely different way. It’s softened around the edges, and I have better coping mechanisms now. Plus, I now have a great breakup playlist which my naïve little self never thought to make before that fateful night when I was 17.