What Your First Relationship Says About You

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I "dated" a few guys when I was a freshman in high school, but it wasn't until I was 16 that I got into what I think of as my first real relationship. It was super dramatic and beautiful and tragic, with a guy four years older than me with whom I would stay in touch for years after we broke up when I was 19. We finally lost touch a few years ago.

Actually, writing about this reminds me that in the moment, the few "relationships" I had before I was 16 would not have been qualified by quotation marks by my 14- and 15-year-old selves. These were the stuff of passionate teenage romantic dramas, full of tortured love notes and furtive (and not-so-furtive) makeout sessions between classes. At first I thought there were only two such "boyfriends," but memories are flooding back, and now I can remember four. Maybe four and a half, if you count the male best friend on whom I had a serious crush.

All of this got me thinking: What does your first relationship say about you? And how do you even figure out what your first relationship is — is it your first adult relationship (in which case none of the above would count for me), the first time you fall in love — or just the first time you agree to be someone's girlfriend? Also, importantly: What do we learn from our first relationship(s)? What do I carry along with me through my whole life from those first hand-holds and kisses and dates? Here are five types of first relationships, based on the first five people I dated, and what they might say about you.

The Artist

I dated a guy when I was 15 or so who liked to do things like wear a sweatband (à la Luke Wilson's character in The Royal Tenenbaums) to dinner and cruise around in an old Volkswagen convertible with a star painted on the side of the door (until it broke down too many times). If you dated this type your first time around, you probably have tended to gravitate toward these people ever since — the cool, casual, reserved ones who are self-described "islands" (gag) and always keep their hearts as far from their sleeves as possible.

The Nice Guy/Girl

Earlier that same year, I had a summer romance with a dude who went to a neighboring high school. This was the closest thing to a long-distance relationship that I had ever encountered, and it was really fun to get dropped off at his house for the day and wander around his weird town together, doing teenager-y things like explore construction sites and eat weird food. If you kicked things off with a nice guy or gal, beware: I feel as though nice guys/gals in the beginning can lead to bad news for a while, because we always want to rebel against this kind of thing when we're young, or at least I always did. But you might just wind up with a good egg again later in life — thankfully. Let's all hope.

The Athlete

For reasons beyond my comprehension now, I started off high school by making out with a football player in a crawlspace and dating him for a few weeks. He was actually a really sweet and smart football player, and we remained friendly throughout high school, but we didn't really connect on a deep personal level. In any event, if you dated someone like this at the start of your dating career, but now you can't really see yourself with an athlete, maybe you were more open minded back then. Or maybe you were a little misguided. Don't worry: We all were.

The Nerd

I dated a dorky guy for a little while in my sophomore year of high school. He was really kind, but I just didn't really connect with him that much. I broke up with him right before Christmas, and he still gave me presents he'd gotten for me, which made me feel really bad. Anyway, if you were with this type at the outset, you probably like smart people who are a little weird, and you've probably dated such a person since. Nothing wrong with that.

The Good Fit

I really got along with the man I dated from the ages of 16 to 19. This was the relationship that I think of as my first real relationship — first time I said "I love you," first time I stayed with someone for more than a very short while, first time I really felt connected to someone. Though it's unlikely that this kind of relationship was your absolute first relationship, it does happen sometimes. Regardless of whether it was truly #1 or just your first relationship like this one, if you have something in this vein in your beginning lineup, you probably value relationships highly, because you know how valuable it is to have a partner by your side. And you're probably a pretty darn good girlfriend too.

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