Why We Never Really Get Over Our First Loves
First isn't always the worst.
First loves. Even typing it out seems a little corny to me, but what else can I say? It's a good, general term to describe someone who had a little piece of your heart before anyone else. The great thing about first loves is that they can be innocent and simple, like someone you kissed on the swing set when you were six or slow-danced with in the seventh grade. Or, on the contrary, they can be all the more serious; the first person you brought home to meet your parents, who you spent your first pay check on, went to prom with, spent one special night together...
But life happens. And first loves become first break-ups. When you're young, either in your teens or early twenties, this is more likely than not to happen. With popular cutting points like going off to university, moving away, or generally growing up and apart.
Scientists compare a person's first time falling in love to that of your first time sky-diving - you'll always remember how you felt. The intensity. The thrill. Because it was your first time feeling it. First loves can be all the more intense because of all the chemicals flooding your brain for the first time - serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, all giving the experience of literally being high off someone else.
The extremity of falling in love for the first time can make that relationship seem untouchable to all others. "He's nice but he's not Michael." "She's pretty, but no one's like Carrie." "It would've been different with Adam." Etc etc. It's more than common to compare your coming relationships to your first real love because of the significant impact it made on your life. It becomes a base, or a foundation, in which you'll consciously - or unconsciously - compare the rest of your relationships.
As we get older, our first love falls into what scientists call the "memory bump." A golden era between the ages of 15-26, where people recall their fondest memories. Blame it on the teenage hormones, the thrill of firsts, or nostalgia.
Science - and I - will tell you, there is no concrete evidence that says your first love is your best one. But it is one that will teach you more than your second. Your first love helps you define what love is (or isn't). It gives you a better understanding of how you want to be treated, who you are, and what you want in a partner.
A couple of minutes on your ex's Instagram after a couple shots of tequila could definitely have you thinking that maybe it's not over over. And who knows, maybe it's not. I'm not saying you should build them a house and kiss them in the rain all Notebook-style - but it doesn't necessarily hurt to reach out. If your relationship ended on good terms, with little to no toxic tendencies from the both of you, revisiting the past can do wonders. Maybe closure - clearing the air about things you still think of, realizing you've both changed, or accepting you aren't good together anymore. And maybe, in some cases, it's a chance to try again. Do things differently, treat each other better, and appreciate the time you have.
I don't know if there's a concrete way to fully get over the first person you loved. Personally, I'm kind of glad I haven't. I think with time and having new relationships, love can change. From romantic and lustful, to something soft and respectful. I know that my first love will always be special to me, because he was my first. And as thankful I am for the time we had together, it doesn't make any future partner's love less special or important. The past is the past. And as much as we may want to turn around and look at it, we might miss what's coming right in front of us.
So please, love your first loves, but don't let them stop you from finding something new. Unless you think your first could really be your last, too.
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