i've been in a "pull from the archives" mood recently, so please forgive the angst-y tone. i guess i used to be sad sometimes? :) i thank God for my brokenness, because it toiled the dirt long enough to ready my heart for all that He had planned on planting in me. ~~~

Meet a sweet girl, age 15. No more, no less. Any younger and she isn’t quite independent enough. Any older and you risk being the second one to damage her instead of the first. It is important to be the first. You will be the cruelest, your words will echo in her heart the longest, and your wound will sting the most. This is the only time love will feel like this. And this is the only time love will ever hurt this badly.

Write her a note. No, write her endless notes. Every other day, while in English class, craft the perfect letter on college-ruled notebook paper. Tell her you’ve been “thinking about you, babe!” and that you can’t wait to come to her soccer game.

Go to her soccer games – almost all of them. Afterward, make a joke about wanting to come say hi to her at “halftime”, pretending to be dumb and not know the game rules. Find out there really is a halftime in soccer. Give her "the look" when she laughs at your ignorance. Reel her in with that look.

When you ask her to be your girlfriend, be nervous. Nervous in the hand-sweat kind of way. Do it after the movie you go see on Friday night. No, screw waiting. Do it before the movie. And then hold her hand the entire way to the theatre. Worry about the sweat on your hands. Savor how small her fingers feel between yours. When she tells you that your hand is the first to hold hers, tell her you wouldn’t have it any other way. Tell her it’s the first AND the last. Promise her that.

Wait two months to kiss her. In high school, this is an appropriate amount of time. In later years, you will find out this is a lifetime. When you do kiss her, ask politely. She will later come to hate any boy who has to ask permission to put his lips on hers. But ask, and wait until she nods. And then put your hand on her face and kiss her like you’ve never meant anything more in your life.

After five more months, tell her you love her beneath a big tree at the park by your house. A month later, carve your initials in that tree and make her believe that this is symbolic of your long-lasting love for her. On your one-year anniversary, take her to a seafood restaurant, even though you hate seafood. Dress up, take pictures, act like a blubbering idiot, wonder how long until you stop acting like a blubbering idiot around her.

Month after month, let your feelings grow. Let your hormonally charged, didn’t-know-any-better feelings grow so deep you can’t function without her in the room. Act on these feelings all the time, letting impulse control the puppet-strings tied to your hands and feet. Say big things to her, so that she hears them. Throw caution to the wind. Make big promises. And when you have no words, let your body do the talking. Walk hand in hand down the road of innocence lost, and have no regrets. Mean it every time you touch her. Promise her forever.

Spend years doing life together. Finish high school and start college with the world at your fingertips. Embrace the feeling that nothing else in the world matters except this moment, this choice, and this girl. Convince her that you’ll grow old together, and reassure her that you are soul mates.

After those years, stop meaning it – any of it. Let the nightly routine become just that: a routine. Forget to tell her you love her, become indifferent about returning her calls. Tune her out when she says she feels like you are distancing yourself. When she cries, feel nothing. Let your eyes ice over. Tell her you think you two should take a step back in the physical part of your relationship because you need to focus on the important things like morals, and finding yourself. But still call her when you’re having a lonely night. Go farther than your newly set boundaries. Immediately after, convince her that it’s her fault, and don’t let her stay the night. Rinse and repeat this week after week. Begin to like the way she looks at you like a puppy that hasn’t been fed. Enjoy this newfound control, and wonder why you enjoy it. Love watching her beg to while you feel nothing, absolutely nothing, on the inside. Begin to wonder if you’re rotting away. Decide you don’t care.

Meet Someone New through mutual friends. Meet her with an open heart and a steady hand. Notice that she is a touch prettier, and fairly skinnier. As you get to know Someone New with no hesitation, learn that she is less messy than your girlfriend of four years. Listen to her stories closely, as interested boys always listen to pretty girls, and realize that she has a lot of morals, and a lot of strength. Find yourself thinking about her during the day. Catch yourself wanting to call her, waiting to hear from her.

Begin to pursue Someone New. Write her love songs, drive 19 hours to her house in another state, send her flowers. Tell her you’ve never felt this way before. About anyone. Even your girlfriend. Oh crap, your girlfriend. Spend every other night with her. Ignore your girlfriend when she asks what’s going on between you and Someone New. Is she the boss of you now? Who does she think she is, asking so much personal information? Doesn’t she know you’re entitled to your privacy?

Finally kiss Someone New. Travel into the world of infidelity. It is scary, it is thrilling. It is fun to have two girls at your beck and call. Shuffle them back and forth daily, and ignore the fact that you are exhausted. Spend your days falling in love with Someone New, and your nights scratching the itch that every man deserves to have scratched. Lie, lie, lie. Deflect, deflect, deflect. Control, control, control.

When your girlfriend discovers you with Someone New, take it like a man. Let all scrutiny roll off your back, and creatively convince her that this was her fault. Do not, under any circumstance, apologize. Act shrill, brassy, harsh. Do not back down. Make her feel stupid. Make her feel small.

When she tells you that she will forgive all of this if you just take her back, let down your guard, just for a moment. Remember the way her hair smells, and the way her skin on your favorite part of her stomach feels. Hear her laugh, even though she is currently crying. Remember, just for a moment, the tree – and all that it stood for. When she begs you to pick her, to choose her, to love her, do not budge. Do not make any sudden movements, for they might trick you into staying. Tell her that she is a mistake; that with her, you will continue to mess up. But with Someone New, you can start over, start fresh; you can be better with Someone New.

Pick Someone New.  Choose the life less risky, pick the predictable. Skip off into a world of new love and zero mistakes. Never answer any questions about why. Embrace asshole-type tendencies. Regret nothing. Be callous and dry, soulless and cruel.

If you do all of this successfully, then congratulations; you have broken her.