I have fallen in love “for the first time ever” about seven times in my life. And I say “for the first time ever” because each time someone new comes into my life, it always feels more real and more mature than the last one.
I once fell in love when I was in the seventh grade. But it wasn’t easy to discern symptoms of love and infatuation – there’s a thin line that separates this, but either way, we’re blinded by our overpowering emotions. So let’s just say I fell in love, and I thought it was my last.
I was in the seventh grade, and I still remember how it felt. Mind you, I was in the seventh grade 17 years ago! He was very kind, he brought me flowers from our school park, we’d have lunch together, and we’d play volleyball together in the same team. That relationship failed, and I moved to a new school. I couldn’t bear the separation at first, but soon it all became more and more bearable.
After a while, I met someone new. But this time, he didn’t bring me flowers because they were hard to find, and instead, he brought sweets from home. We didn’t have lunch together because we always met after lunch, and we were both in college, so there was no volleyball. Then, I received a scholarship, so I began studying extra classes, and well, let’s just say things changed again. And before I married the love of my life, I fell in love again! [Read: 6 reasons why you won’t stay with your first love forever]
Falling in love vs. future relationships
As a teenager, I believed that love is all about flowers, chocolates, birthdays, parties, and gifts. We all believed that, don’t tell me you didn’t! But as a teenager, first love fades pretty fast, and we find ourselves falling in love again and again. It’s usually during our late teen years that we truly hang on to something or someone, and this is what affects all our future relationships.
For example, when I was around 19 years old, I thought I knew a lot about love, and I wanted to stay away from it. But then one night, I met someone through my friends, and we felt deeply connected to each other. Butterflies in the stomach when I was about to see him, failing to sleep in the night because I was thinking of him, loss of appetite, self-consciousness… these symptoms started emerging from somewhere in my heart.
I knew that I had never felt like this before, even when I was in the seventh grade – this was definitely something new. A lot of people say that the first love is the deepest, and this is true to an extent, but again, the sting of that first heartbreak is devastating, and it can linger on for years. It’s very difficult to move on from a first love because precious moments, memories, and experiences play a mighty role in all your future relationships. [Read: 10 types of love you’ll experience in your life]
How first love affects future relationships
At the age of 19, when I fell deeply in love, let’s just say it didn’t work out because we couldn’t relate to each other. They say love is blind, right? I’d like to add stupid, deaf and dumb, too. We shared a lot of good memories, lots of good moments, we had amazing experiences, but soon, we moved on.
There comes a time in our lives when we face the brutal reality that sometimes two people in love are not compatible, and you either suffer together or move on happily. If you decide to move on, wise choice, but it will affect all your future relationships. Here’s how. [Read: 50 questions to immediately know if you two are compatible]
#1 Youthful expectation. According to Dr. Gayle Brewer, a social psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, you can never fully recover from your first love, and you may unrealistically hold all future relationships up against that initial benchmark.
For example, when you met your first significant other for the first time, you felt intense excitement. So you expect to feel the same way, or even more, when you meet your next love for the first time.
In an adult relationship, this isn’t realistic because you need to realize that as you grow, your expectations may change. When it comes to romance, don’t let anyone tell you that love won’t exist in future relationships because it will.
While romantic love does exist, it is wrong to compare every romance to your first because you may end up comparing and idealizing your first love. And soon, you’ll only remember the good things and forget why you moved on in the first place.
#2 Repetitive behavior. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Golland, there are times when a person replicates a passionate connection with their first love and compares it to their current love. For example, if you and your first love always fought and made up, you will be convinced that in order to create excitement in your future relationships, you will need to fight, so you can make up.
What you need to realize is that in an adult relationship, apart from excitement, you need safety and security, and fighting and making up can lead to instability. Of course, you’re not doing it consciously, but you need to be able to detect this behavior pattern, before it destroys what you feel for each other. [Read: Love-hate relationships and why they hardly ever work out]
#3 Learning what you truly want. Imagine you went someplace, and you absolutely hated the experience. So when someone asks you your thoughts, you know exactly what to say, right? The same goes with first love. When you experience first love, you will know exactly what you’re looking for when you move on.
For example, when I met Jason, I loved him, but when we moved on with our lives, I realized that I needed somebody more responsible or someone with a sense of humor, or someone who knew how to cook.
To make your first love turn into a positive lesson for your future relationships, sit down and make a list of traits that you’d like to find in someone else. List down all the positive aspects of your first love, as this will help you keep an eye out for what will make you happy when you meet another person.
#4 Learning what to stay away from. The same logic applies to this point – learn from your first love, and pick out the things you’d rather not have to deal with in your future relationships. For example, if your ex never bothered to save money or had a very bad temper, you’d want to make sure that you won’t have to deal with this again. While the wounds are still fresh, it’s always a good idea to note down the traits you want to avoid in all your future relationships. [Read: 15 types of toxic relationships to stay away from]
First love doesn’t mean it’s the only love you will experience – sometimes they teach us a lesson, and we can’t help but learn from them. Think about all the things that hurt you while you were in a relationship for the first time. Think of all the good things you did together, and see how much you invested in your relationship. Keep all of this in mind because this will be the only way you can save yourself from an aching heart and a love hangover.