Just about everyone has a story or two about the first time they fell in love. There aren’t many people that couldn’t tell you the story like it happened just yesterday, even after 10, 20, or 30 years have passed.
As we grow older, end a long relationship, go through a divorce, or get together with old friends, we always seem to let our minds drift back to the first person we fell in love with. They hold a dear place in our hearts, and for a good reason.
We could be thinking fondly of happier times as we ponder why current relationships didn’t work out, or we could just be wondering what life would be like if distance, time, or life hadn’t gotten in the way of that very first love. There’s always the chance that you’ll think back and wonder why am I still in love with my first love, even though I’m truly happy with my current partner?
For most people, the first time we fell in love is a time that we look back on when we’re reflecting on some of the very first things we learned about relationships, feelings, trust, emotion. Some of the first loves happened to us to teach us a lesson, while others were meant to last.
For some, meeting this person at a later time and date can seem like a miracle, suddenly the time is right, and things fall back into place. For others, even a chance meeting couldn’t bring the two of you back together, but for some reason, the experience and love still live inside of us.
It’s A Perfect Storm
The first time you fall in love is likely to happen in adolescence, which is a time of being inexperienced, lacking insight, and going through hormonal changes and brain development. In a study recording the average age of “firsts,” 84% of participants reported having fallen in love with the average age of 17.47 years.
Although we can feel grown-up and certainly like we know best at this age, once you get five to ten years down the line, you usually begin to realize just how inexperienced you were at the time. Still, that doesn’t change your own first love story for better or for worse.
Part of the reason that the first time we fall in love can be so impactful is that it’s happening at an age where significant life changes are coming. There’s a plethora of growth during adolescence, significant transitional life phases and quite a few memorable firsts are happening.
What’s the Deal with the Intensity?
Still, you may wonder what it was about this relationship that was so profound to you. You may have fallen in love several times since, with a better match, at a better time, and still, the first time you fell in love sticks out in your mind like a sore thumb.
Whether you’ve just ended a relationship or you’re left feeling confused as you’re planning your wedding. You love your fiancé and want to spend the rest of your life with him, but something keeps bringing your mind back to the past. Our best advice is to try not to make too many comparisons.
Just because you recognize the love you felt once long ago, doesn’t mean that you don’t love your current partner, or that you shouldn’t go through with the wedding.
Long after our first love ends, there will be some part of our psyche that holds onto that cherished feeling. The lessons learned, the way he looked at you, the way your heart leaped out of your chest to spend hours under the stars talking with him.
Unfortunately, the research into this topic has been few and far between. Fortunately, many professionals love to share their collective wisdom on the subject. A big part of the phenomenon is simply that it was the first. Think about the first time you rode a rollercoaster or ate your favorite food.
It was an instant delight, gratification; it stands out in your mind because you remember the thrill, never having felt it before. Something came alive in you and sparked your interest, feelings, and changed the way you think going forward.
Riding a roller coaster and eating your favorite food aren’t profound things. But remember what it felt like the first time is a lot more thrilling than the way you feel when you ride a rollercoaster for the 60th time, or how you feel after you eat your favorite food every Friday for three years.
These things still bring you joy; you still love the feeling, the ride, the food. But it pales in comparison with what the first time felt like. So even though it feels like this magical, mystifying thing, the explanation is quite simple.
Here Are Five Reasons Why You Can’t Let Your First Love Go
We’ve all asked ourselves the same question at one point another – Why am I still in love with my first love? The first time you fall in love, you’re genuinely diving into the unknown. You have no idea how your experiences and circumstances will shape the way you react to all the firsts that come with falling in love for the first time.
You have no idea how things will unfold, how long this will last, or how this experience will shape you. Take a look at these five ways your first love shaped you and so hold this special place in your mind.
Your First Love is the Purest Love
One of the biggest reasons that the first love you experience becomes so impactful to you no matter how much time has passed is because it was the first. It was also the last time that you would experience love from a romantic relationship perspective in the same innocent and pure way.
That’s not to say that nothing before your first love allowed you to have experience in the love department, but this love and relationship holds some weight as far as experiences go. You likely had no alternate or malicious expectations, you weren’t scorned, and you didn’t have some set expectations.
You had a pure attraction to this person, your mind and heart were wrapped up in the way they made you feel regardless of any other logic or reason. It’s one of the reasons why you were so happy to ride bikes together, lay under the stars, or sit and listen to the waves crashing at the beach for endless hours over the summer together.
The stress of life, big decisions, and past experiences with love weren’t at play. You felt euphoric in their arms, listening to their heartbeat, watching them play video games or skateboard, and listening to them tell stories.
During this time, no matter how fast the world was spinning, you only felt what was going on right here, right now, with the one person you loved. Once this relationship has become a thing of the past, you can never experience another relationship from the same innocent standpoint again.
There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Take it for what it is, look back on time and enjoy what you learned and how that experience transformed the way you think and feel now.
Kissing, Cuddling, Holding Hands & Hugging: What Our First Intimacy Experiences Teach Us
There’s a chance that your first hug, kiss, or date may not have been with the first person you fell in love with, but experiencing those things for the first time while falling in love makes all the difference. The average age that people experience their first love is quite young, so there were likely many firsts, or some very inexperienced seconds happening during this time.
Think about the very first time you kissed the first person you love, the first time they pulled you in close and hugged you for longer than necessary, or the first time the two of you had sex. You can remember quite a few details, can’t you?
These first experiences of intimacy get stuck in our minds because, in the grand scheme of things, they are profound. They represent changes in physiological responses, our brains are still developing during adolescence, and these experiences are shaping our futures.
For most, the sound of the voice of your first love could echo in your mind at the mere thought of your time together, you know just what it feels like to be under his touch, and you know just what he might say in any given situation.
There’s A Good Chance You Thought It Would Last Forever
The cliché about teens in love who are enamored with one another, including them in future plans are known far and wide. Any parent of older kids will tell you just how nervous they were the first time they knew their child was in love with someone.
They wondered how this love might affect them, they warned their child that it might now last forever, and not to let this person influence life-long decisions – like college choice. While your parents may have known that this attachment may be short-lived, you felt like the love you had would last forever.
You talked about how you would make it work from separate colleges if you didn’t get into the same one, or wanted to attend school in different areas. There was no assumption that your time together would come to an end, that you would grow apart, that the things you wanted for yourself in the future would cause you and your partner to travel two separate paths, bringing your time together to an end.
You took the time to get to know every small detail about this person you loved, and because you felt that this love was enough to last you a lifetime, you attached your dreams to it, along with hopes. It was this feeling, this attachment, and the innocence driving it that made you feel like you were meant to be in this life together – forever.
Most people will tell you, even if the relationship and break up turned bitter, that there are things they will forever remember about his involvement. Things that they still love, still appreciate, and wouldn’t change if it meant they lost all the memories they had.
Emotions Run Wild
We touched on this a little earlier on, but at this time in your life, emotions are running wild. Everything feels more significant than it is. Decisions seem daunting; love feels like it’ll last forever, the bliss you feel from sharing love takes over your thought process and overpowers most of everything else going on in your life.
This emotional intensity has much to do with current age, developmental stages, and experiences. Not all first loves are perfect. There may be disagreements, arguments, or the romance could have been toxic. In the same way, because of what’s going on, the emotional intensity is high.
We’ve all met a person or two in our lives who thrived on drama or toxicity. Your roommate in college or your desk-mate at work are some examples. It seems like with each day and week that passes new drama unfolds in their lives, there’s the next big fight, break-up, and make-up with their partner. But what doesn’t change is their patterns of behavior, they don’t let these experiences change their behavior for the better.
If you dig deep enough into a person’s past, you will likely find where this thriving on toxicity got its start. Experiencing rocky relationships and instability early on teaches us that the constant fighting and getting back together is normal or acceptable. It tends to be very relative to our past experiences and relationships, both familial and romantic.
Whether you rarely fought with your first love or you fought all the time, those arguments felt monumental. Perhaps you called your best friend who had to come over and let you cry out your feelings for hours, or maybe you went to your mom feeling distraught and defeated.
What it all boils down to is that you keep asking yourself why am I still in love with my first love, and the answer is right here in the facts.
The Ending Feels Bigger Than Anything We’ve Ever Experienced
For the perfect example of why our first love sticks out in our mind so clearly even far into the future, let’s think about the story of Romeo and Juliette. In this classic tale, Romeo and Juliette are madly in love. And when they learn that they can’t be together, they’d rather die than go on without one another.
A teacher, author, and writer for Psychology Today, Nick Luxmoore, writes, “The loss of our first love is a developmental milestone of huge significance.” Remember that falling in love with this person had us feeling like love was ever-lasting. For it to come to an end can be monumental for some people – another reason why it sticks out in our minds years later.
Sometimes the loss is sudden, sometimes its gradual. As we go from childhood and through adolescence, one thing that is a constant is experiencing loss and change. You go from being utterly dependent on your parents to sustain your life, to becoming more responsible for your autonomy.
You go from being a child to a young adolescent to older adolescence. You go from making decisions about how you want to dress, to what college you’ll go to, and how it will impact your career path and where you’ll live.
During this same time, you may have cycled through a few “best friends” and held onto a select few. You decided whether or not you’ll go to college, start a trade school, or work your way up from your first job. Your parents started giving you more responsibility, more autonomy, and possibly become a little more hands-off in their guidance.
All of these things are worth mentioning because they affect the way we take the loss of our first love. You might have made it differently if your mom was just getting married to her second husband at the time, or if your parents were going through a nasty divorce at the time.
As you experience loss in so many ways during this time, losing your first love can feel profound. Even though the devastation you felt then, you can look back now and realize that it may have been a bit silly to feel that way.
The world was, of course, not going to end, but that doesn’t make your feelings at the time – or now – invalid. So, if you’re feeling stuck on your first love one year, five years, or twenty years later, give yourself permission to grieve the loss and appreciate the gain.
Should I try To Get Back With My First Love?
There are many times in our lives when we may come to a crossroads that has us wondering if we could rekindle the love we once had with someone. Because first loves are so unique – there are so many reasons why you two split up. Many of which aren’t “bad” reasons at all.
If you grew apart, chose colleges far away, or had significant life-changing circumstances happening, it can make it seem like the love should never have ended. And, by extension, that it’s plausible for that love to be reunited.
Apart from marrying and spending the rest of your life with your high school sweetheart or first love, the second biggest daydream many women have is a second chance at first love. When the time is right, circumstances line up, and it seems like a fairy tale waiting to happen – we’re all lost in the thought that this could be it.
As a cautionary word of advice from outside the inner workings of your own emotions right now, we want to tell you to give it more than a fleeting thought before you back in. If the connection over social media has been made or a chance meeting happened, take it slow.
So many changes could have happened over the years. Think about how different of a person you are from then till now, and how different the one you loved maybe now too. Before you running off to elope, give yourself a lot of time to consider what’s going on in your life right now.
How circumstances might be clouding your judgment, why it is you want to try rekindling the relationship, and what you might want out of it if you do decide to pursue it. If this person has grown to become someone you admire after talking more again, then there is no harm in trying.
If you spend some time getting to know one another again, it’s okay not to feel the same about them. Accept the changes for what they are, and don’t let it ruin the memories you have of things past.
Things to Remember
Perhaps the most important thing of all to remember about your feelings is that they are valid. No matter what they are, they are yours, and they matter. Secondly, don’t underestimate what you could be misinterpreting your feelings. Sometimes bouncing our ideas off of someone we know and trust can help us realize what we’re feeling and why.
There’s no reason that you need to forget these feelings or put them out of your mind for good. You should do the opposite. Allow yourself to feel whatever way you do; take the time to reflect. Just because you’re currently in a relationship, doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the lessons you’ve learned in the past.
You may even appreciate your current relationship more after reflecting on the past. Or it might help you make decisions that you’re finding conflict in with your current partner. Our feelings can be helpful tools if we allow ourselves the time and space to use them wisely.