Then and Now: High School Heartache

Oh, hello there!

Okay, so I know I said I would get back to your regularly scheduled wedding programming today… but instead I got sucked into the ‘Bee’s “Then and Now” Series.  I know there are a ton of new readers (Hi New Readers! Welcome!) because I got Freshly Pressed yesterday (eep! Thanks!), and who doesn’t love embarrassing pictures of me in high school?  With my boyfriend?

steve and me circa 2002

Yes, boyfriend. I’m sort of curious about whether anyone is picking their jaw up off the floor, so please tell me if you are!

Here’s the idea behind the series: We’ll all get to know a little more about the bloggers—what they looked like, how cool (or stupid) their hair was, their views on love and relationships, and how high school shaped them as human beings.

During my time at an all-girls Catholic high school in Chile.

Let’s start by saying that I hated high school, and there is absolutely no way I would be willing to do it again.  I went to a public high school.  I was on the Honors track, in Special Ensemble (we had to audition to get in! I was always very proud of that.), string orchestra, drama club, school newspaper, and I was a proud founder of the school’s literary club.  If that gives you a sense of Who I Was In High School.

me, at Nerd Camp, singing a song about unrequited love. fitting.

I met Steve in my freshman year, I think, and had a huge crush on him by sophomore year. Heh, as I start this story, I realize how long and complex it is.  Here’s the short version, kids: Steve and I dated for over four years.  He was two years ahead of me and I thought he was the coolest guy in the world.  Forget that he was in Science Club.  I thought Science Club was cool? Who am I kidding, I still think Science Club is pretty cool.

We spent a lot of time together, and a lot of time with each other’s families.  (At my wedding, it was really nice to see Steve and my brother spending time together; they had first met when my brother was only 5, and Alex, too, thought Steve was just Awesome.  It seems that not much changed on that front in the last 11 years. I’m really happy to say that Steve and I are now friends; after a nice hiatus of not talking or being remotely friendly to each other, I’m now happy to see him regularly, and I was thrilled that he came to our wedding.)  I think one of the worst parts of breaking up with Steve was breaking up with Steve’s family. I still miss them.

Me, with steve and his siblings (plus friend). I'm the shortest one. Some things don't change.

I really thought that Steve and I were going to get married.  It was something I just sort of assumed, and was surprised when I realized I believed it (because we were real grownups! At, um, age 18.).  And Steve was pretty much the best boyfriend EVER.  One time, I was having a really hard night and he drove from his college in western MA to my college in upstate NY.  Dedication, folks.  I think that I learned a lot about how to be a good partner now after being in a relationship with Steve – a relationship in which, I admit, I was not a good partner.  Example: I asked him to drive from his college in MA to mine in NY.  At 10 pm. Just saying.

Anyway, the whole time we were together, I felt like something wasn’t quite right.  Something just didn’t quite click.  And he was an amazing guy, always supportive, ready to do whatever I wanted, ready to show up by my side if I so much as hinted that that was what I wanted.  He supported my animal habit (he even gave me a foster cat once), brought me lunch at work almost every day, and drove me wherever I wanted to go.  On my prom night, he drove us an hour to the beach, and I only woke up from my nap in the car to walk on the sand for five minutes.  Steve = major points for big romantic gesture; me = worst girlfriend ever (“There was a beach? I thought that part was a dream.”).

What are we upset about? Theory: I'm upset that he's not a woman, and he's upset that I'm upset. Just a guess.

Well, at that point, I sort of knew that I liked girls.  I just thought that I liked girls and I liked Steve.  Obviously, it turned out that the liking girls thing was a little more than bisexuality.  When I started dating my first girlfriend, I was like, “Whoa. So this is what it’s like to be in love!” Aaaand when she broke up with me, I was all, “OH. So THIS is heartbreak. Whoa.”

These thoughts were followed by many late nights of leaving (possibly-drunken) voicemails for Steve, a la “You were the best boyfriend ever! I never appreciated you enough! I’m so sorry I broke your heart!”

Steve was pretty much the best boyfriend ever, hands down, and I dated a lot of boys after him (you know, searching for whatever that *thing* was that didn’t quite click. Turned out there were two of those things and they are located on the general chest area. Yeah.).  The awesomeness that he provided and the lack of awesomeness that I gave back both taught me a lot going into my current relationship: there needs to be a balance, both partners need to give, and you have to speak up for what you want.  If it feels like something is missing, there is probably something missing.  Be honest with the person you’re with; everyone will be happier in the end for it.

my wife, me, and steve at our wedding in the silly picture, if that wasnt clear

Are you still friends with your first “real” significant other?  Anyone else out there take awhile to figure out what “wasn’t quite right”?

Note: I have Steve’s permission for this entire post, and we both laughed a lot at the fact that I am posting these pictures to the internet.  Please be gentle.

Note #2: Steve is seriously awesome and if you think you’re awesome too (and you think Science Club is fun!) you should probably have coffee with him.  Also, he has two really cute kittens.  Also, you should be female.

he's a handsome, contemplative bugger. and he cleans up real nice.



Filed under gay, Relationships

24 responses to “Then and Now: High School Heartache

  1. dancingbeastie

    A brave and touching post. Good luck, Steve!

  2. Ahhh! I love this post M! It totally rings true for me too. I had a series of boyfriends (and a smattering of girlfriends) in high school and beyond, the final one of which was truly a great guy. Truly. It’s just the “guy” part that wasn’t so great for me! Nevertheless I learned a lot from the relationship and am so happy to read such an honest and positive assessment of a similar relationship! I think sometimes it’s very hard to be truthful/open about having dated both men/women because there can be a lot of judgement (from both straight/gay folks) about what that means and what you are and whether or not your sexuality is a “choice.” So this is a brave post and I like it! 🙂 That is all.

    • I think sometimes it’s very hard to be truthful/open about having dated both men/women because there can be a lot of judgement (from both straight/gay folks) about what that means and what you are and whether or not your sexuality is a “choice.”

      Ugh, yes. I was nervous about posting this (here and on the bee) for that reason, but the response has been really supportive! I’d love to hear more stories about the actual coming out/realization process, but mine is so long I’m never sure where to start or where to end or which parts to include.

  3. Oh man, I would have had a huge crush on Steve in high school. I mean, if he wasn’t like a decade younger than me.

    And you were a cutie pie.

    After years of not really wanting to have any sort of relationship with my high school boyfriend and first love we reconnected on FB and I am absolutely delighted to know him again. He also was a super nice guy, I also was kind of a dick to him.

  4. I really enjoyed this post…I think the more honest dialogue about this type of stuff, the better! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Julie

    I love, love, love this post!

    I was sort of on the other side of this, twice, but never in a way that was as serious or mature as your situation. I dated my first boyfriend in middle school. He was sooo cute and I had a big old crush on him. I was really sad when he broke my heart, in sixth grade, claiming “something didn’t feel right.” I would have been so jealous if he dated other girls, but he never did. Instead, he came out of the closet. Recently, I ran into him and we joked about our ill-fated relationship. All’s well. I’m glad he’s happy.

    In high school, I dated another boy for a while. He was very effeminate and flamboyant, but we had, ahem, naked time, so no matter what anyone suggested I vehemently rejected any idea that he could be anything other than straight. (Looking back on that naked time through more experienced hindsight, he was definitely not straight). We broke up. He still hasn’t dated anyone else. He has convinced himself that his standards for a girlfriend are so high that he will be single forever. We’re in occasional touch, and he’s a really miserable guy. I feel really sad for him and hope he finds happiness soon.

    (If you’re wondering why my little black book seems to lack straight guys, you’d be on to something, but that’s another story for another day).

    • Haha, Julie, this is so great! Most of the guys I dated ended up being gay, too! My theory is that it felt safe for them to date me, and it felt safe to me for me to date them, since the attraction wasn’t quite right… no pressure, you know? I wonder if this is a common experience…

      • Julie

        I agree completely, and have actually heard similar stories from a few ladies. In my case, I dated a lotttttt of questionable guys until I met an amazing one who was definitely straight. I loved him immediately, but for two years I wasn’t sure if it was “love” or “in love” because I wasn’t comfortable with my sexuality. It was painful and so unfair to him. It took us breaking up for a long while – ostensibly for good. During that time, I dated mostly women and had my heart smashed by a couple of them. It sucked, but those experiences helped me realize that I can fall in love with any person. Whatever happens to be in their pants is irrelevant because I’m guaranteed to like it. Great life lesson right there!

        (The guy and I eventually got back together and are unquestionably “in love.” He has been completely supportive, which is fabulous, because if we weren’t together I’d be with the girl from Slumdog Millionaire, and that would be a painfully stressful relationship due to her hectic schedule).

  6. Emily

    Your song about unrequited love was AWESOME.

  7. cmc

    Ummmmmmm I had sort of a similar I-was-a-huge-dick experience with my first girlfriend (obviously not because of a lack of interest in women, but other scared reasons). Of course, that was the first relationship that even got off the ground. There was never any real movement with the guys before that… no matter how much I thought I liked the guy… only long after, after a long and, um, very good and very bad relationship with a woman. Right, you know. And now, well, right, I’m all like settled and happy and thrilled with a man.

    And so the moral of this story is to not make assumptions about oneself and to be open and to allow growth and to not over-think or over-interpret things we feel and people we date. Because human sexuality is a ridiculously complicated thing. It defies explanation, really. And I like it that way.

    • So, CMC, it turns out you’re like the tenth person I’ve talked to in this kind of situation. Sometime I’ll actually write about it… such a strange thing, identifying one way and realizing we feel another way and how much input everyone else gets to have! Even if people *say* supportive things, we wonder if they mean them, if they feel betrayed; we worry about how they might react. Isn’t that WEIRD? I think it’s weird.

  8. I heart this! Still friends with your “first?” Of course, although you live closer to him than I do. 😛

  9. I am picking my jaw up off of the ground a little bit, but that is my typical reaction when I find out about any of my lesbian friend’s past straight relationships.

    Laur is still really good friend’s with her first. Actually, she is Laur’s MOH! She is a really great friend to both of us now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Great post!

    • Oh oh that’s another thing! Lesbians staying friends with their exes… different than straight people? I know there are exceptions but that’s something I’ve noticed, the continuing friendships. Thoughts on that?

      • Maybe with our “smaller community” on some level we are aware that we need to stick together a little more? I also think that there is something about your first relationship (Laur & her MOH)- coming out with someone (regardless of how out of the closet your partner might be) implies a certain amount of hardships that you need to work through together. Even if that person isn’t the one you end up with- you have been through a unique set of situations that not all couples have to face. It’s hard to let go of that person forever, so once the hurt wears off, I think it is important to a lot of women to re-establish some kind of friendship based upon all of the commonalities in their past.

  10. Aimee

    This is such a sweet post! My high school sweetie and I recently became friends again too…after a terrible break up and years of not speaking. Now I could write pages and pages about how lovely he is and how happy I am for him! It took a long time for me to recognize how great he truly was, and to also examine how I could have been better and will be better to my partners in the future. Thanks for this touching story!

    • That’s so great! I remember swearing that we could NEVER be friends because I loved him too much. And then it took five or six years before we really could be friends… over ten years after we started dating. I don’t think I would even have been able to COMPREHEND that timeframe when I was sixteen.

  11. Lisa

    The photos are funny to look at, only because I was there for some of it, and remember it! Steve is a great person and a great friend, even if I don’t see him anymore. 🙂

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