Few things in life feel as devastating and life-altering as the loss of your first love. Loving another for the first time is an undeniably powerful experience, and losing that person can leave you feeling deeply sad and lonely. Try to remember that this loss is something many people go through, and that most don't end up staying with their first love for life. With time and the right coping strategies, you will get through this rough patch, and feel like yourself again.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
After a break-up, it's typical for well-meaning friends and family members to encourage you to "move on" or "not think about it." But it can actually make you feel better in the long run if you allow yourself to feel the variety of emotions you're likely experiencing because this validates the importance of your loss, says the University of Texas at Dallas's Counseling Center. You might be surprised that your feelings may be all over the map: Denial, anger, fear, self-blame, sadness and guilt are all normal emotions when you lose your first love. Some even feel relief, if there was a lot of fighting or pain in the relationship.
Once you've gone through a period of grief, try not to dwell on the loss, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the late professor of psychology at Yale University recommended in the article, "Heartbreak and Home Runs: The Power of First Experiences." Tell yourself, "I know this is going to be tough, but I'm choosing to move on with my life." Try blocking off times during the day during which you allow to let yourself wallow in your grief -- say 15 minutes in the morning, and another 15 in the evening. That way, you're not letting the loss color your entire existence.
Staying busy can help keep your mind off your loss. Schedule time for exercise, a new hobby or cause, and outings with friends, suggests psychologist Jefferson Singer in Psychology Today. He notes that by creating new experiences, you're better able to get "unstuck" from the past and be more present as your life moves forward. Filling your life with meaningful activities also helps you to see that even though you can't go back to the way things were, happiness can be found again.
If you're having a difficult time staying positive, try reading, speaking, writing or thinking affirmative statements, says developmental psychologist Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D., in Psychology Today. When you're feeling anxious and upset, your brain's serotonin and dopamine levels tend to drop, which can make it hard to be optimistic. But positive affirmations can help to create feelings of calmness and confidence. For example: "Just because we broke up doesn't mean our relationship wasn't real. But it's not real anymore, and I accept that;" "He just doesn't feel the same way about me, but someday someone will love me again;" and "I am an evolving person with a lot to look forward to, and I can learn from this painful experience."
- Amos Morgan/Photodisc/Getty Images