It’s easy to dismiss two teenagers in love; their faces still stippled with acne, teeth shifting under the tight brackets of metal braces, minds still restless with math homework. We see their young love through goggles tainted by the heartbreak from our formative years. We become cynical, bitter adults who look down on teenagers in love. After all, we have the wisdom of a 20-something (or 30 or 40-something) and we know better than to have faith in young relationships.
We call it puppy love; that pure, innocent love that has yet to be contaminated by the malignancy of relationships.
But while they love for the first time, we have forgotten how to. We have become jaded from all the years of bad relationships, cheating partners and one night stands. Love has become this unattainable concept, and our prerequisite for a partner has doubled in length since our first ever boyfriend.
Take a second to remember your first love. Today, you might scoff at the thought that you had ever loved them in the first place. You would never call that love, not now. Not after experiencing real, adult love. But think back and remember.
Remember how you waited for them to finish their classes so you could wave at them in the hall before your next period. Remember all those sleepless nights talking to them over the phone, heart racing as they spoke with that sweet timbre. Remember the first time they kissed you or held your hand, how you slept that night with a smile that you couldn’t wipe off.
At that moment, it wasn’t puppy love. Not to you.
Our first love was the one who received all of us; all our dreams and fears. The one that took us as we were, whole and unbroken, and we loved them carelessly. We put all our eggs in the basket and gave it to them saying, here I am, do what you may—hurt me or love me, I’m yours. Sure, it was a risk, but we didn’t care. We loved hard, and that was all that mattered.
That is what we’re missing today; the audacity to love without self-restraint. We have left behind our carefree self for adulthood, and maybe that’s what’s been hurting our chances at love. We have abandoned the butterflies-in-your-stomach, no-you-hang-up-first feeling after our first heartbreak for fear of it happening again. But if we put our beating heart on the table like we did so long ago, we might find ourselves loving with a familiar intensity; a love in its most fragile, unsullied form.
Puppy love is a wildfire we have doused with years of heartache. It’s time we bring it back.