You know the party scene in American Pie where Tara Reid and her curly-haired friend talk about orgasms? Tara says something like: "I've had an orgasm! I think…" and the friend fires back with something sassy like: "Oh, you'd know!" It's the moment during which every teenage girl in every movie theater across America side-gazed at her boyfriend of 3 weeks, wondering if the result of his fumbling backseat groping behind Burger King was or wasn’t her first.
That mystery over whether it’s happened or not is how I have always felt about love.
We all remember the first time we told someone that we loved them. For me, it was the same night I lost my virginity. I was in college and had started dating a basketball player (let’s call him JTT) 3 months earlier. We had been close friends for a while and despite the fact that he wore size 14 sneakers, he felt like a safe bet to round third base.
Within minutes, with his sheets looking like something out of Game of Thrones, I made him stop and started crying. He responded by telling me that he loved me (you know, what every girl wants to hear while she’s sobbing over a disappointing first time). I said it back for all the right reasons –to distract from the horrible sex, because I didn’t want to leave him hanging, and because I didn’t know what love felt like so it was possible that I wasn’t lying.
When we started dating, I was a junior and JTT was a senior. We stayed together through my graduation and even when I moved to LA after, leaving him in Boston –and that’s when things went South faster than a cheerleader on prom night. There was a good deal of cheating, a lot of swearing, and ultimately, acceptance that we were great friends, but not a great couple. If I still loved the same things I had loved my junior year in college, I would have a Jackass poster on the wall of my LA apartment. Did I love him? Yes. But I never felt sure that I was truly "in love" with him.
I didn’t feel anything remotely close to love until a few years later. I was at a beer garden with my friends, celebrating Galentine’s Day, when a guy (let’s call him Taylor Hanson) and his friends sent a round of tequila shots to our table. A few days later, Taylor and I went on our first date: ice skating in Bryant Park. That tells you everything you need to know about him.
The next 4 weeks were like a dream, because they were just that: a carefully planned fantasy/scam that Taylor played out on every girl he dated. Every night was something new and spontaneous: soccer and an arcade in Brooklyn, MoMA and the chef’s table at Ippudo, closing down his restaurant to cook me dinner, a spontaneous trip to DC to see the monuments, and finally surprising me with 2 tickets to Puerto Rico for my birthday. And then at the 2-month mark, 2 weeks before my birthday, after telling my friends he loved me, as he did with every other girl, he pulled the ripcord.
He took a female intern on my birthday trip to Puerto Rico in my place. Two months later, she posted a sad song to Soundcloud about having been dicked over the exact same way.
Months later and still in disbelief that I had been duped by a guy whom I referred to as Taco throughout our relationship, I met my most recent ex (let’s call him Leonardo Dicaprio). I didn’t want to be anyone’s girlfriend, but something just clicked. Almost immediately, it felt as though we’d known each other forever.