All of us can empathise with the pain of a breakup. That pain of separation is like an inherent part of being human – but when does it hurt the most?
First breakups tend to be the hardest for most people. Without experience, people end up feeling lost and helpless. First relationships also tend to be much more dreamy, intoxicating, and addictive. Thus, breaking it off not only ends your bond but also your innocence with love.
Whether getting over your first relationship is the hardest will always depend on circumstances. Considering that you have had healthy relationships, find out all the reasons why the first breakup tends to be the hardest.
Most of us go through our first breakups during our younger years. Whether it was in your teens or early 20s, the common denominator is that you would still have been relatively immature.
As immature children or young adults, most people do not have a clear understanding of the world, of going through hardships or dealing with an array of emotions.
It’s not just about breakups; most of life’s problems are the hardest to deal with when you’re still young and juvenile.
In addition, most experienced people don’t end up taking your breakup too seriously, leaving you with no help or guidance.
Similar to being young and immature, dealing with firsts- irrespective of age- is always the hardest. What makes the first breakup the hardest for a vast majority is their lack of experience.
With little guidance, you have to navigate through your emotions largely on your own. Even with aid, only you can work on your change of perspective.
Since you have no experience in handling a breakup, you have no context of your personal response to such a negative stimulus.
Unfortunately, this means that the only path to tread is where you tremble, fall, and pick yourself up over and over again.
Breakups, in general, are agonising because relationships are addictive by nature.
It is more complicated as first-timers are usually unaware of the addictive nature of love, giving themselves entirely into this feeling.
Being addicted to “love”, you start missing the idea of being treated a certain way, rather than the actual person. You crave the high, all day and every day, until it slowly fades.
As part of your first love, you do not realise that it fades, and you end up giving in to the craving. While your fifth breakup might still hurt, by then, you see that craving for what it is and are not fooled by it.
A first-time experience of any moment tends to heighten your sensations and feelings, embedding them deeply in your memory. New experiences, as a rule, make you hyper-aware.
As a result, your first relationship may feel nearly surreal. You hadn’t built up any notions that could influence your thought process. So you go with the flow, experiencing everything in its purest form.
With your first relationship being so much like a dream, breaking up is like a slap back to reality, while the rest of the relationships that follow might still keep you well-grounded throughout.
We usually don’t learn to be independent or develop our own identities and self-worth until our first breakup. Thus, it is very likely that during your first relationship, your identities were entwined.
During your first relationship, your plans tend to revolve around your partner. You go to the same restaurants, or have the same friends.
Sometimes, you even cut out on hanging out with friends or family, focusing on your career and aspirations, or even hobbies.
In fact, the first breakup may feel like you’ve lost everything because your partner took up all the space in your life.
All these little things add up to worsen the experience. After your break up, you are very likely to rediscover your own identity, which you carry and develop through future relationships.
Since it’s common to be young during your first relationship, and everything is new, you also build unrealistic expectations around your relationship – which often become the cause of breaking up for several first relationships.
Whatever benchmark or expectations you had set according to the narratives that social media and movies sold to you, they often become a cause of the shattering pain caused by a first breakup.
It’s like a little kid realising there’s no Santa Claus or that money doesn’t go on trees. In simple words, it hurts to grow up. You find that love isn’t rainbows and unicorns – it spells hardship.
Your first breakup is your entry into the real world.
Since first relationships tend to be exceptionally dreamy, we usually end up thinking that they’re going to last forever.
The perfect relationship, the perfect partner, and you felt more than blessed to have found love so early – until life smacked you in the face.
First breakups hurt the most because we usually don’t anticipate it. When you are packed into the present moment and the beauty of it all, hurtful truths hit you much harder.
As you go on, you learn to take the possibility of both good and bad outcomes – easing the pain when truth hits.
When you’re completely mesmerised by your first person and think you’ll never break up, you also end up planning your future.
You would think about their marriage, about having children, what they’re going to name them, or the house they’re going to live in even when it’s way too far in the future – we’ve all been there once with the wrong person!
A first breakup hurts when you plan way too much way too soon and end up being completely consumed in the relationship. The shattering effect of the dream intensifies the more involved you are in it.
While this may depend largely on your circumstances, if your partner left you without much closure, it is very likely that you will end up blaming it all on yourself.
It might not be the most relevant if you broke up because of being troubled by your partner or when you mutually decide to part ways.
However, you could still think about how you could have done things better.
With more experience and building your own identity, you usually understand the dynamics of your relationship better, thereby making those breakups less painful by not considering them solely your fault.
Our brains aren’t the best at being socially left out. We need family, friends, and acquaintances to survive. A breakup, in general, can threaten it all.
The amygdala (a part of your brain that processes threats) starts associating romantic relationships as unavoidable pain and threatening to your being after your first break up.
It is this response that also makes people shut themselves out, not wanting to date at all after their first break up – at least until they learn and move on.
These social repercussions will often worsen getting over your first breakup.
First relationships are merely a reflection of your inner world, irrespective of age.
Before we get into relationships, we see and absorb the world around us, build our own notions and dreams, and then project them onto the other person.
You end up seeing the world as this place of innocence and beauty, and it makes you happy. Then, when you go through your first breakup, it’s like the shattering of a mirror and seeing a dark truth underneath.
The fact that you realise it was all a lie – not the relationship, but your idea of love – breaks you in different ways, making it much worse.
Last of all, when the magic breaks, we cannot have it back. As we grow up throughout life, we learn more and more about the reality around us.
We can never return to being the children or the happy youngsters we were. When first breakups shatter the illusion, the hurt can continue even after you absorb and accept the truth.
The hurt worsens with the idea that you could never feel the same way about a person again. You may still love, but it would be from a different space.
It would still make you happy, but the magic of a “first-time”, where there are endless possibilities, is lost forever.
There’s a hard-earned silver lining to first breakups- they teach you plenty of things.
Your first breakup can help you learn more about yourself, engage with other people and enhance social relationships, love languages, and most importantly, how to love.
Before that, do check out my guide on: How To Get Over Your First Heartbreak?
Here’s what you’ll learn as you go through the process of moving on from your first breakup:
When you go through your first breakup, you witness an array of negative emotions with an intensity you might not have felt before. Ultimately, you will move on from them.
To do that, you first need to learn to manoeuvre your hurts. One of the key learnings of a breakup is navigating and managing these emotions.
You understand how to take care of yourself when you’re in pain, how to confide in others, and not beat yourself up over it.
Since your first relationship is all-consuming, your first breakup pushes you to reconsider your own identity and path.
You learn to accept the fact that your partner is not everything there is to life, and your own worth does not have to be associated with your relationships.
You re-discover the things you love, the goals you want to aim toward, and the habits that make you complete. While people would still have an impact on you, you learn to become your own individual.
As you learn more about yourself as an individual, you also learn to appreciate yourself.
Getting over a breakup requires you to learn more about yourself, indulge in activities that help grow your self-esteem, and take care of yourself.
Relationships often make you codependent, and a breakup can teach you how to be independent again.
You learn how to take care of yourself on your own, and with every little thing you do for yourself – you realise your own worth.
Appreciation comes from a deeper space, a space where you know that no matter what happens, you (of all people) will always be there for you.
After getting over your first breakup, you start seeing red flags that were always there in a relationship. First, you learn that the magic was not in the relationship itself, but in how you viewed it.
And then you realise that mere attraction does not run a relationship.
You learn that being utterly mesmerised by someone one day does not guarantee a lifetime of love and that relationships need more work and effort.
You also learn to not be blinded by a person and see them for who they are when you date.
Even if your first relationship had surpassed mere attraction and you truly loved each other, it also teaches you that it’s not a smooth downhill trajectory after that, either.
You finally discover that loving someone is not as easy as movies make it seem. You understand the idea and importance of sacrifices in relationships. You don’t just offer compromises, you see them through.
You learn about your expectations, how love languages differ, how you want to be loved, and how to love someone the way they want to be loved – and that that’s the only way to win relationships.
Finally, your first breakup teaches you that it’s not the end of the world. Failing once at romance does not mean you failed at love – you simply learned how to do it better.
Likewise, just because you weren’t compatible with one person does not mean you are forever incompatible.
You learn that life goes on, with or without certain people. No matter how much you love them, they come and go with time, and you can still be fine.
First, or twentieth – a breakup will always hurt. You end up being closer to some more than others, dream with them, or connect instantly. It will all add to your pain and make it harder to move on.
Regardless, you get one step closer to becoming a better person with every breakup. We all learn to move on, irrespective of how hard a breakup may be.