First love in college? Really? Well if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender then yes, this is very possible. I know even for heterosexuals the first time they may fall in love with someone won’t be until college. For students I talk to who identify as LGBT, college is a time of discovery and possibly having that first long term relationship. Some people don’t even come out until after college, but for the ones who have come out, college can be a crazy time trying to navigate the waters of a relationship.
Of course, in a lot of ways, LGBT relationships are very similar to heterosexual relationships. There are some extra factors to consider with this population. I find that a lot of LGBT students state they have felt lonely in their junior high or high school years. They may have had lots of friends, but rarely any love relationships. They also state that going out with someone of the same sex the first time can be intimidating. The world is full of heterosexual couples. I have never had to grow up in a world where I see all these couples and they are different than my dream of what a couple looks like. When I was young and had my first boy crush I didn’t look around me and see all these girl/girl couples. I’m sure if I had I would wonder to my young self, “What is wrong with me?” Especially if I look at my parents relationship and saw that they were both dads or both moms and I want to be with the opposite sex. I can see how it would be confusing. Then to finally live out the dream knowing it was different from the majority would be a little scary.
It isn’t easy to be different. At my wise old age of 37 I can see the value of being different, but when I was 13 I didn’t want to be any different from anyone else. This is the world some of my LGBT students have grown up in. So a first real relationship with someone you are super sexually attracted to can be overpowering. That first relationship holds so much weight. A lot of LGBT students tell me their first love was with someone who has either been “out” longer than they have or has had previous relationships. Most of the time they fall in love with someone who has more experience than they do. At first, this is great. They are introduced to a whole new world and it is very exciting. The problem comes when the person experiencing love for the first time falls harder than their partner. As the months go by, problems can add up.
A lot of students talk about the fear of losing that person who introduced them to a whole new world. You have finally found this relationship you’ve been dreaming about and can hardly believe this person is attracted to you. You find the person who probably felt the same way you did growing up, and that is rare. However, you may feel they don’t need you as much as you need them. This may cause you to be more jealous of their friends, especially if they are the same sex. Jealousy develops because it is hard to be confident in a first relationship. You don’t feel experienced enough so you wonder if someone else will catch their eye. This can be a valid fear. I’ve heard that some people like to experiment sexually for awhile after they come out. You may wonder if your partner is having other sexual relationships outside of your relationship. If it is your own mind playing tricks with you, start to work on your self-confidence. There are ways to improve your own self-esteem so it doesn’t sabotage your relationship. Your partner is going to get tired of trying to reassure you all the time. You have to believe this person wants to be with you until proven otherwise. Try to trust your partner and believe in yourself until you have concrete proof that they are stepping out on you.
Maybe you see certain signs that point in the direction of cheating that puts your guard up, or you know they have cheated in the past. When this happens it can be hard to deal with. This isn’t an easy conversation to have. You may want to let your partner know of your fears, but be careful. If you come off as too accusatory or angry you will only cause them to be defensive. However, don’t just let it go if you you’ve witnessed things you are uncomfortable with. It may be easier for people in the LGBT community to settle in relationships because of the fear of not finding someone else. Even heterosexuals have this fear, and it is well known their pool of potential partners is larger. Don’t let fear of not finding someone else keep you in a bad relationship. It can be hard to let go of that first love, but dating and relationships are a way of finding out what you like and don’t like. You rarely strike a jackpot on the first try.
If your partner is pulling away for some reason, holding them in a death grip isn’t going to help the situation. If you are unhappy, try not to stay longer than you should out of fear of not finding anyone else who will love you. There are plenty of great gay and lesbian couples who have found true love and now in a few states even able to get married. Don’t give up hope. Maybe that first love will work out, but if it doesn’t, keep looking for that next door to open. Every relationship teaches you something about yourself. Take that information and use it to your advantage in the future. Maybe the one you are destined for hasn’t even made their way out of the closet yet. I know a lot of LGBT students who become depressed over being alone so often. I know that sucks, but try to find time for friends and focus on other areas of your life until another great person comes along. Also, know that college is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the rest of your adult life. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet new people after college. It can be hard to watch all the couples around campus and feel you are the only one alone, but trust me, you aren’t alone. If you are feeling depressed after a break up and have no one around to open up to, please seek out a counselor who can listen and give you some support. Break ups, especially losing your first love, can be extremely difficult. Hang in there, it does get better.