When I was 22, my first proper boyfriend of nearly four years and I broke up. I say broke up, but what I really mean is he dumped me. Over text. Safe to say, I wasn’t very happy with the situation. Over the next few days, I made expensive, four-hour journeys back and forth between Sheffield, where I was completing a masters degree, and Cardiff, where he lived. At first, I tried to convince him not to dump me and when that failed, I became an ice woman, pretending I was totally cool with the whole idea – that was only two years ago, and already I cringe at how naive and juvenile I acted. Last night, the whole thing came back to me as I watched Love Island’s Georgia react to being “mugged off” by Josh.
After the boys and girls had been separated and introduced to six new islanders, Josh – who was coupled up with Georgia – came back arm-in-arm with a new girl, with whom he says he had an “instant connection”. Georgia, however, had decided to stick to her guns and in one of the most misguided examples of loyalty ever seen, chose to stay coupled with Josh. While viewers knew exactly what was going to happen, Georgia and the rest of the girls were shocked that Josh had betrayed her trust and the 20-year-old immediately channelled her sadness into a quiet, stony anger. “Can we talk?” Josh asked, when Georgia returned to the group. “Don’t even touch me, man,” she replied, without even looking at him.
Of course Georgia was immature, of course she was overreacting – she’s 20 years old
Later, Georgia found the energy and strength to confront Josh about his choice to start a new relationship, skipping straight to the ice-woman stage of break-ups I – and most likely, women all over the country – recognised. “Don’t worry babe, you haven’t mugged me off,” she interrupted, as Josh attempted to apologise, knowing full well that that’s exactly what had happened. The next five minutes were full of questions – “Why would you do that to me Josh?” – and assertions that she, too, was completely OK with the situation – “It’s fine, I get it. You obviously want to get on with her more than me, and that’s fine.” Georgia explained that she had passed her own test, because she is loyal and knows the boundaries of flirting, while Josh obviously did not. Josh, she decided, was completely fake the whole time.
Before this discussion-turned-argument, the nation’s feelings towards Georgia were that of sympathy; we all held a deep contempt for Josh. But as Georgia tried to convince her (sort of) ex-beau that he had made a mistake, Twitter seemed to turn on her with accusations of immaturity and overreacting. When she told Josh that she “knew him”, the usual cries of “it’s been three weeks!” echoed around the internet. Comparisons were drawn between the way Laura dealt with her break-up with Wes – she was composed, strong and, ultimately, not that bothered. However, Laura is 29 years old, she knows the dating game much more intimately than Georgia. Laura has been hurt before and knows that not everything works out – that the fairytale of everlasting love is a myth, especially on reality TV.
Of course Georgia was immature, of course she was overreacting – she’s 20 years old and, as she has repeatedly said herself, she has never before opened up to a boy like she did with Josh.
Everyone remembers their first break-up. It’s a rite of passage that everyone should be allowed to go through without judgement, no matter how embarrassing it will be in a couple of years. It’s what builds our knowledge of how relationships should – and crucially, shouldn’t – work. It’s where we explore our most petty and self-centred emotions. Put in Love Island terms, without that first immature break-up, we’d all be Joshes.