Does Your First Love Affect Future Relationships?

Your first love can show you what you want in future relationships.
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They say that the first love is the deepest, and in some ways that may actually be true. The intensity of first love can often be all-consuming, and the sting of that first heartbreak can linger on for years. Given how difficult it can be to move on from a first love, it is only natural to wonder how those memories and experiences might play into your future relationships.

1 Youthful Expectations

People who have experienced an intense first love may unrealistically hold all future relationships up against that initial benchmark, explains Dr. Gayle Brewer, a social psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, as quoted in the article "Why We Can Never Recover From First Love," published by "The Guardian." If they remember feeling deeply in love and eternally excited in the presence of that first paramour, they can convince themselves that nothing short of that same intensity will do. Unfortunately, that isn’t always realistic in an adult relationship, particularly when that excitement may have been driven by the instability of a youthful love. Romantic love can and does exist in future relationships, but attempting to compare every romance to your first may leave you feeling disappointed. Particularly because, with time, you will likely idealize your first love, remembering only the good and forgetting what it was that drove you apart in the first place.

2 Repetitive Behavior

When a passionate connection exists with your first love, you may try to replicate those feelings and experiences, sometimes to your own detriment, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Golland in "You Never Forget Your First Love," published on the website MomLogic. For instance, if your first love was based on a cycle of fighting and making up, you might become convinced that is what it takes to create excitement in your future relationships. If you continue seeking out the same level of instability, it can become difficult to find safety and security in an adult relationship. Getting caught in these patterns may make it difficult for you to find true happiness in a relationship, as you continue trying to recreate a love that didn’t work out in the first place. Sometimes this is unconscious behavior, but talking the issue through with a counselor may help you to break the cycle.

3 What You Want

On the plus side, experiencing a first love can help you to formulate a better picture of what you are looking for in future loves, according to Dr. Karen Ruskin, psychotherapist and founder of Dr. Karen Ruskin & Associates, Inc., in her website post "First Love." To make this a positive experience, consider sitting down with a pen and paper and making a list of the traits your first love had that you would like to find in someone else. Perhaps your original paramour was exceptionally kind and thoughtful, or maybe you liked how your love had a clear vision for the future and plans for getting there. Consider the positive aspects from your relationship and what you would like to see carried over into the future. This will allow you to keep an eye out for what will make you happy later on.

4 What You Don’t Want

In the same light, those first relationships can also help you to gain a clear understanding of what you don’t want explains Dr. Ruskin. While the wounds are still fresh, before you begin idealizing the past, you might want to sit down and commit to another piece of paper all the traits your first love had that you wouldn’t want to deal with again. Perhaps your sweetheart had a temper, or wasn’t ever good about saving money. Think about the things that irked you and made it difficult for your relationship to continue forward, and then be aware of those same traits in future suitors. Taking the time to commit these thoughts to paper can give you something physical to look back on when a potential next love first appears.

Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.