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The different faces of love on Valentine’s Day: ‘Nagmahal, Nasaktan, Nagtravel’

In love, the first cut is the deepest, and the story of “LB” is a testimony.  Generally, young people think that the time to have a relationship or first kiss is while they are teenagers and hitting 20 without experiencing these could be shameful for some, especially for men. Commitment could be daunting, and most people are willing to wait for the right person to experience all those ‘firsts’ with, and LB, a self-confessed NGSB (no girlfriend since birth)—is no exception.

“I am a late-bloomer when it comes to love. I had my first girlfriend when I turned 20. I was commonly described by my friends as torpeng malandi. I used to like a number of women, started talking to them, but never really made significant moves after that. I don’t know if it was because of me being afraid of rejection or was not yet ready to commit during that time,” he self-consciously shared.  His friends actually were frustrated about his self-doubts because he was active in school, joined pageants and won, and a consistent dean’s lister who eventually graduated with Latin honors.  As his friend would taunt: “Nasa ‘yo na ang lahat” (You have everything).  “Yes, I have everything, except the height and a girlfriend,” he quipped.

To recover from a major heartbreak, LB started booking flights and traveled Southeast Asia with his friends and family year.

Finally, during his senior year in college, LB got interested in a young woman, a freshman who was a head turner but again, never made the move. One night, he received a text message from an unknown number with a message saying Hi. “It had no period nor emoji, so I did not bother to reply. I usually reply to random messages but ironically not that one because I felt na suplada naman (such a snob) because it did not have an emoji. Afterwards, his friends told him that the girl he liked was actually the one who messaged him. Then he finally had the guts to reply. After three months of knowing each other, this 20-year-old NGSB finally had the guts to utter the words “Will you be my girlfriend?” Fortunately, the girl said yes.

LB said his experience may sound like a success story but actually there was a catch, a big one. His girlfriend’s father is a strict uniformed officer thus, she needed to be home at a specific time after class. “It was like I finally found my Cinderella, but my princess needed to be at home before the clock strikes 12 each time we were together or else disaster would happen. She could not use her phone if her dad was around. There were even times that her phone was confiscated. Thus, there were days where we did not have any communication. Things got more complicated when I graduated and started working as we had to find another place to meet, and that time our school was the safest place for us to meet. Even our photos were hidden on social media.  There were random thoughts in my mind that I may be framed as just one of those nanlabans, but [to] hell with it I said, at least if I die, I died for love,” he looked back with such fondness.

But despite the risk, as they say, love finds a way. They met regularly even for just 30 minutes weekly to spend quality time. When his girl graduated, he was finally introduced to her family. “After years of being in a secret relationship, we were free! As millennials would say…legal na! (We’re official!) I went to her house without fearing for my life and we could see each other anytime we want, do what normal couples do, and we were one step closer to our dream future,” he recounted.  Sounds perfect, you think.  Well, think again. When her girlfriend started working, she fell in love with a colleague.

“I thought, maybe, I was just a temporary figure in her life and with her newfound freedom, she could already choose the man she really wanted.  How could she throw four hard years of being together away in exchange for a person she had known for a couple of months? I did not know what to do then. My life literally revolved around her. All my future plans were dependent on our dreams so when I found out, my world crashed,” he confessed. The girl tried to make it up with him and their relationship continued for another year, but it became very toxic because of the lack of trust anymore, so LB and his girl decided to call it quits.

To recover from the major heartbreak, LB started booking flights and traveled Southeast Asia with his friends and family. Yes, it helped a lot, but the self-doubts lingered.  “Funny to say but this is true. I said the exact lines by Liza Soberano in the movie My Ex and Whys na Pangit ba ko? (Am I not good-looking?) and Am I not enough? Because honestly up until this day I do not have the answers if I will ever be enough for someone,” he joked about his first heartbreak.

Given his current state, LB will celebrate Valentine’s Day by showing love and appreciation to all the constant people in his life—his family and friends who have always been there for him through thick and thin. “Maybe I’ll send them cakes or I will try to bake brownies for them. Actually, before the pandemic, I always gave chocolates to all my female colleagues, and I made a promise to myself that this gesture will be a yearly tradition whether I am in a relationship or not.”

LB hopes that in his future Valentine’s Day, he will finally have someone who he can celebrate the occasion with, and he hopes that the person will be the same on he will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with for the rest of his life.  “Given all the valentine celebration posts before had been kept as a secret, even just for once, I want to feel what it is like to be posted on social media, with a cheesy caption.”  Currently, LB is taking his time and not rushing things by reading self-care books and most of all, by surrendering everything to God because he believes that everything happens for a reason because everything is in God’s plan so I just trust Him and have faith that in His time, the right person will come. Atta boy!

***

LB’s story is part of “The Different Faces of Valentine’s Day,” a profile series made by POP! to show the different ways people see this event and how they celebrate it. Click on the image below to return to the main article.

Click on any image below to read other Valentine’s Day stories from this series

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