First Loves. Benchmarks. Guest Bloggers.

This is a guest post from “Kate Jackson”

I have a benchmark. I’ve had a benchmark since I was 17, but didn’t realize it until I was 20.

It’s what I weight everyone against. Does this boy do what he would do? Does this guy talk to me the way he would? Is this boyfriend as good a boyfriend as he was?

Until recently, I didn’t realize how much my benchmark had influenced my life. There is music I listen to because of him. There are bands I love, books I read, food I eat, movies I watch, because of him. I won tickets to a concert last year and said to the DJ, “I’ve been wanting to go to this concert since my high school boyfriend gave me their album 10 years ago!”

I had absolutely no intention of saying that out loud, especially not for all of the metro area to hear.


I’m married, happily. Have been for a while now. My benchmark hasn’t been a part of my life since 2000 and then, out of seemingly nowhere, he’s back. And it makes me smile. Part of that might be because I’ve missed having him around. (Is that weird? Bad?)

We never had closure and our relationship was tested in pretty serious ways that were out of our control. I have learned from those moments. My passion burns more fiercely because of him. I can tell you exactly  how our last conversation went down the day we “broke up” and it was painful…for both of us. I did a great deal of damage and made an attempt, many years ago, to reconcile (which turned out very badly). I wanted to know he still loved me, still thought of me, but most of all, that he didn’t hate me for what had happened.

I got a manicure the other day and, like most girls do, used my tech as a therapist. I started yammering on about this guy.  “You never get over your first love,” she told me. “Never.”

“Well, that’s good to know,” I said. “I was beginning to think I was a bad person, somehow royally effed because of this.”

But because of my benchmark and because of how we ended, I learned how to stand on my own two feet, listen to everything my parents had to say, and be able to (kindly and respectfully) tell them to fuck off.

My benchmark will always be filed away in the happiest parts of my memory. I love remembering how mad we were about each other and some of the fantastic times we had. Mostly I like remembering how nervous I was to see him and hold him after he moved away from our hometown (lucky us, we both came back for Christmas that year).

I made mistakes with him and I have regrets aplenty. I don’t dwell on that. Ever.

But my benchmark changed who I am…in some of the best ways.

Interested in writing a guest post about your own Dating & Other Bad Habits adventures? Leave me a  note in the comments.

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