Singaporean Girls On Dating Their First Boyfriend

Ahhh, young love. Do you remember your first boyfriend, the one who gave you butterflies in your stomach whenever he walked past? Do you remember your first date and your first kiss?

While most of us hope our first teenage love affair lasts forever, sometimes our relationship just doesn’t pan out the way we want.

It could be because of emotional immaturity or dating incompatibility, but with every heartbreak or quarrel, there’s always a lesson to be learnt.

*Names were changed to protect some identities.

1. Learn to keep your relationship off social media

When I was 16, I was constantly uploading pictures with my boyfriend on Instagram. I liked how people ‘shipped us’ and commented how we were “#couplegoals”.

Gradually, our relationship became a ‘show’ to keep up. I was more concerned about posting cheesy pictures with captions declaring undying love than an actual relationship.

When we broke up, I decided to remove all our photos from my feed. It was not only tedious but also sad and embarrassing when my friends asked why the photos had disappeared.

I learnt it’s better to keep things private. After all, it’s two people dating, not your entire friend group.
Amanda, 18

2. Learn to notice the red flags of abuse

I was 19 when I met my first love. In the beginning, the relationship was great, but as the honeymoon period wore off, he became clingy and temperamental.

If I wanted to go out with my friends, I had to ask for his permission. If I didn’t ‘report’ my location to him every few hours, he’d blow up and yell at me. One time, he ignored me for a week because the train broke down and I was late for dinner.

But I ignored these behaviours and rationalised to myself he was just ‘looking out for my well-being’ and I was being ‘over-sensitive’.

Eventually, my friends helped me see that my ex was being controlling and emotionally abusive.

Now, I’ve learnt to take notice of red flags, such as emotional immaturity, jealousy, and manipulation. Doing so will save you a lot of pain and unnecessary heartache.
Beatrice, 25

3. Learn to let go of the small things

I was 15, and had dated my ex for a year. Within that period, I broke up with him thrice for superficial reasons including the way he typed with grammatical errors, and the way he dressed.

In my search for a ‘perfect person’, I ignored his sincerity and good-hearted nature—traits I now value in a partner.

Though it’s been eight years since our split, I still regret my decision. We’re friends now, but things could’ve worked out if I hadn’t focused on silly things.

That’s why in my current relationship, I try to remember what’s important. I’ve realised, to truly develop a proper relationship with someone, it takes compromise, and that means learning to let go of the small things.
Lynnette, 23

4. Learn to define labels in a relationship

Despite what some people say, labels are important in a relationship. When I first started dating my boyfriend, we didn’t clearly define the relationship.

I knew he had feelings for me but when I asked him, “What are we?” he’d always give non-committal answers.

Being stuck in this grey area gave me anxiety, and it strained our relationship because we were always arguing about his commitment issues. It didn’t help that I learnt he was dating other girls on Tinder during this period.

Months later, we finally we had the talk and started dating exclusively. Defining the relationship is important as it helps you know where you stand with each other, and sets clear guidelines on how to behave and what to expect from each other.

I know it’s silly but when we both finally changed our Facebook relationship status from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’, I felt relieved!
Andrea, 22

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5. Learn to manage your friendships

My first boyfriend and I were inseparable, and I often turned down my friends to hang out with him.

After six months, he suddenly dumped me before our ‘monthsary’ and I turned to alcohol to drown my sorrows. One night, my friends admitted they were glad I broke up because they didn’t like how I had ‘disappeared’ when I was attached.

That talk made me realise how much I had taken my friends for granted.

At the end of the day, your friends are your support group and they’ll be the ones who’ll catch you if you fall. But friendship is a two-way street.

If you only hang out with them when it’s convenient, you can’t expect them to be there if you don’t put in the effort to maintain your friendships.
Rachel, 22

6. Learn to fix things instead of just breaking up

My current boyfriend of six years is also the first guy I dated. In the past, we used to quarrel a lot and were often unhappy because our needs weren’t being met in our relationship.

After almost breaking up, my mum sent me an article on emotional bids in a relationship. I forwarded my boyfriend the article and we decided to try to be gentler and more patient with each other.

We also took steps to understand and ‘speak’ each other’s love languages (mine is words of affirmation, and his is quality time).

By truly listening to each other, we managed to fix our relationship. Falling in love is easy, but choosing to be in love and weathering out tough periods is a choice.

It’s not always easy, but a little understanding and remembering why you fell for your partner in the first place goes a long, long way.
Pamela, 26

7. Learn to take things slow

I’ve always been a late bloomer, and at 24, I was last in my social circle to get into a relationship. So, when my first boyfriend asked me out, I was thrilled as I felt I had finally ‘grown up’.

Quickly, I experienced many firsts: first date, the first time a boy held my hand, and my first kiss. But I wasn’t comfortable with having sex as I felt things were moving too fast.

However, he persisted and I caved in. Having sex complicated our relationship as he constantly wanted to get physical. Eventually, we broke up because it turned out he liked sex more than liked me.

While the physical part of the relationship is important, know that sex can unnecessarily complicate things, especially if you’re unsure of your feelings.

It’s okay to take things slow and remember, you don’t have to succumb to pressure to do things just because everyone else is.
Jacky, 25

8. Learn to be true to yourself

I was 19 when I entered Uni and fell in love with a classmate. By a stroke of luck, we were paired up for a project and I found out he liked me back.

The initial stages of dating were blissful. But every other week, he’d bring up a part of my personality he was unhappy about.

Bit by bit, I changed myself to be his ‘perfect’ girlfriend. I even gave up my passion, dance, because he didn’t like the “close body contact” I had with other guys as they could’ve taken advantage of me.

Though he was happy with my decision, I was lost, isolated and sad because I felt I was losing my identity.

At the end of the day, we broke up because I realised a relationship should be a partnership with equal respect for each other’s individuality. While it’s important to compromise, don’t change your personality or give up who you are for another person.
Dawn, 21

9. Learn to love yourself first

My first boyfriend in poly was one of the school’s eye-candies. Because of his looks, he received a lot of attention from girls and even gay guys.

At first, I was thrilled he had picked me to be his girlfriend. But as the relationship progressed, I became insecure. I felt I wasn’t pretty enough, and not good enough to keep his attention.

Despite him constantly reassuring me, I grew paranoid. After 10 months, we agreed the relationship wasn’t working out because my immense jealousy had turned me into a stereotypical ‘crazy girlfriend’.

After the breakup, I realised I projected all my insecurities on him and it made the relationship miserable. You can’t love someone without loving yourself first. Now, I’m slowly learning to build a healthy self-esteem and seek validation from myself.
Tricia, 21

Girls Share The Lessons Learnt From Dating Their First Boyfriend

Despite our best intentions, not all first loves will be our last. But it is through experience that we learn how to better deal with and manage our future relationships.

This article was first published on 11 December 2017 and last updated on 6 March 2024. 

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