love out loud: getting over bob dylan
A lot of my friends are certain that they are never going to love anyone like they loved their first love. Depending on how many times I’ve already heard them say this, my response differs from ‘I’m sure you’ll find someone just as great’ to ‘There’s a reason you broke up. You will definitely, definitely get over them.’
Books and films (yes, blame the public sphere) overrepresent the situation where people end up with their first partners, or at least die unhappy with the person they “settled” for. And the reason that I’m confident that just about everybody gets over the first person they love even though they don’t think they ever will, is because that’s how I used to feel.
Bob Dylan wasn’t my first boyfriend, but he was the first boy I loved. And for a long time after we broke up, even when I was dating someone else, I was certain that I would never find anyone with whom I was so compatible. This is probably because, for a long time, I didn’t.
I am now with the second person I have loved and have no lingering feeling for the first (who I, incidentally, live with but this is something of a moot point for the purposes of this article). None. Nada. I don’t look at him and get a little bittersweet feeling over what we used to have. I care about him, but the level of sexual desire between us sits comfortably at zero.
Those of you who are not over your first love are, right now, reading this and thinking, ‘But you must not have really loved him. I’ll never get over (insert name of person you will eventually get over).’
Our first experiences remain very distinct in our memories, because, at least at the time, they were unfamiliar to us. You can probably remember exactly what you were doing and what went through your mind the first time you heard that someone you knew had died, and exactly what you said just before your first kiss. The menstrual amongst us can probably recall exactly where we were when we got our first period, and the reason that musicians are always asked in interviews what was the first album they ever bought is because they have retained this information, unlike the 11th or 237th.
This doesn’t mean that every subsequent such experience doesn’t count or that it’s not special, but just that when you experience something for the first time, that’s the time that you remember most vividly.
Love is no different. And yes, this is made more problematic by the fact that this idea of “the one” is so prevalent, when really, very few people end up with their first partner, no matter how strongly they felt about them at the time. But nonetheless, the reason that the first person that we loved remains so clear in our minds is just because they were the first (no matter how cool they might’ve been).
A lot of energy during our adolescence and early 20s (and possibly later; I won’t know what it’s like to be in your early-mid 20s until August) is exerted on the certainty that we will never love someone like that first person. In some ways, that’s true. You don’t have the neuroses and the complexes and the paranoias that you have later on. But love is going to feel different with the next person because hopefully, you will be appreciating different things about them, not just finding a carbon copy of an ex (with whom it didn’t work, I should point out).
I never thought I’d get over Bob Dylan, especially not to the point where I would be able to truly and wholly devote myself to another person, without reservation or doubt. But I did. And regardless of how it may feel sometimes, you (definitely, definitely) will too.
Then again, maybe I just didn’t love him enough.
(Image credit: 1.)