We Asked People What They Remember About Their First Time Falling in Love

"We broke up when she was about to graduate high school. She was going to get married to someone else."
April 2, 2019, 10:57am
portraits of three Indonesians
All photos by author

This story originally appeared on VICE Asia.

Most of your experiences trying things for the first time are dull and normal. Nobody goes about their day thinking about their first time reading a novel from cover to cover, or their very first time eating breakfast food for dinner, for example, even though those two things are pretty life changing in my eyes. But everybody thinks about their first love from time to time, for a variety of reasons.


I decided to take a walk down the streets of South Jakarta to hear people's stories about one of the most sacred human experiences ever. And judging by how many people changed their mind about being interviewed after I asked them my first question, I'm convinced that asking strangers to reminisce about their first love is the quickest way to annoy them. Thankfully, the six people below were kind enough to share their stories, and what they learned from them:

Adinda, 17, just graduated high school


VICE: What do you remember from your first crush?
Adinda: I was in high school, it was during a school leadership program. He was the student council president. He was religious. He was cool. Yeah, he’s the type of guy that I like.

Did he like you back?
I don’t know, but I know that he noticed me. He often looked at me, but never said anything. He never said that he liked me.

Was he also your first love?
Yeah, I think so.

Years from now do you think you’ll still remember him?
Yes, I will. I’m pretty sure I will.

Adi, 25, banker


VICE: Do you ever think about your first love?
Adi: I was 17, before that I never had any girlfriend. It was funny because she was my sister’s friend. She would come to stay over at the house during the weekends. Every time I went home and saw her shoes, I would be like, "Oh no she’s here again."

Did you guys end up dating?
Yeah. At first, we were just goofing around like it was a joke between my sister and our friends. But then we decided to be together. After the first three weeks—I was very young so don’t judge me—I told her that I loved her and then she was like, "Me too." Then it went on for six years.


Six years is a long time. How and why did you guys end it?
Maybe because we were young, things were not evolving. And after three or four years, things started to get boring.

What do you mean by things weren’t evolving?
When you’re young, as Indonesians it’s hard to tell your families that you want to go on vacations with your girlfriend, for example. So it’s complicated to bring up "new steps" in the relationship. To me, evolving means we should start thinking about living together, I should propose, and perhaps later we get married. I think it’s important in a relationship to have new steps every time. But it wasn’t going that way for me.

Tatik, 61, homemaker


VICE: How old were you when you fell in love for the first time?
Tatik: That’s a long time ago. I was 12 or 13 years old when I fell in love for the first time. It was a long time ago. Or maybe 15? It’s like that one song. Sometimes I still remember.

What can remember from your first love?
I was giddy, I was happy. I don't know for sure if he knew that I liked him, but I bet he knew. I know that he was asking my friends about me. But we never became anything. He graduated and that was it.

Sarmili, 45, security officer


VICE: Hi Sarmili! Do you remember the first time you fell in love?
Sarmili: The first time I fell in love was in 1994. I was in my second year in junior high school.

What do you remember from that relationship?
I was happy, very happy. We were both going through puberty. So there was a lot of… Well, it was puppy love.


Are you still in touch with her?
Not anymore. We both have our personal lives. We broke up when she was about to graduate high school. She was going to get married to someone else.

Do you still think about your first love?
Of course! Everybody thinks of the past because it’s hard, impossible even, to forget the past.

Zahra, 20, college student


VICE: How old were you when you felt like you’re in love?
Zahra: I had crushes since I was in junior high school, but I started thinking, Oh, this guy is the one for me, when I was 18, when I started college. I would see my crush and my heartbeat would just go crazy. I just felt happy to see him.

Were your crushes requited? How was your first breakup?
Yes, some were. Some of them liked me back. I dated my first crush for a while but then we just started to fight over the stupidest things so we just ended it when things were starting to become unhealthy.

That's so smart of you! Do you often think about your first crush?
I don’t think about my first crush, but it’s not like I regret being in a relationship with him. We’re still in touch, he sees my posts on my Instagram story. It’s good. But the last relationship I was in, yeah I still think about him.

Dimas, 30, consultant


VICE: Hi Dimas. What do you remember from your first crush?
Dimas: My first crush was in high school. High school is when people's hormones are raging and they start discovering feelings. Like you start thinking, Oh is that person looking at me? Are we having a moment? High school stuff. Crushes happen a lot when you’re single. But I’m not single anymore.

Can you remember how you felt the first time you started to feel… feelings?
The feeling I got was that giddy feeling, butterflies in my stomach. You know, those feelings that are described in the books. But after a while the feeling just went away. Crushes are usually just physical, sometimes when you get know them better, you’re like, ugh, no.

Do you think about your first love often?
Actually in my relationship right now, I feel like it’s my first time feeling this way. I thought I felt love before this, but this time the feeling is amplified. It feels like the real thing. I feel like my current partner is the one I have fully loved and opened myself completely to. I used to settle for whatever came my way. But now I know what I want and need in a relationship, and I found all of that on this one. So the person I’m with right now is actually my first love.

These interviews have been translated and edited for length and clarity.

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