I have been having much debate with friends recently over the subject of ‘Love’ and whether we ever forget our first ‘True Love’. For some people, they will never truly experience ‘True or unconditional Love’ and for others there is a long distant memory of ‘True Love’. I love the quote by Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We all have experiences to share, some of you may have read my first book, ‘Freedom after the Sharks’. This book was published in 2014 and took me three years to write – chapter 5 of the book, named: ‘lessons of love’, focuses on my first true love and as Maya Angelou describes in her quote you never truly forget how you felt or how people have made you feel – or do you?
If you spend enough time reading advice columns, you notice a pattern. In the stream of sorrows and quandaries and relationship angst, one word bubbles up again and again. First. My first love. My first time. My first ever. And unlike all the relationships that came after, with this one, the past can’t seem to stay in the past.
Because long after it ends, our first love maintains some power over us. A haunting, bittersweet hold on our psyches, pulling us back to what was and what can never be again. Unless . . . ?
But why? Why should this one lodge in our brains any differently than the others, even when the others were longer, better, more right? They just weren’t quite as intense as the first.
The scientific research on this topic is thin, but the collective wisdom among psychologists says it’s a lot like skydiving. Meaning, you’ll remember the first time you jumped out of an airplane much more clearly than the 10th time you took the leap.
“Your first experience of something is going to be well remembered, more than later experiences,” explains Art Aron, a psychology professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook who specialises in close relationships. “Presumably there’d be more arousal and excitement, especially if it’s somewhat scary. And falling in love is somewhat scary – you’re afraid you’ll be rejected, you’re afraid you won’t live up to their expectations, afraid they won’t live up to yours. Anxiety is a big part of falling in love, especially the first time.”
So the relationship embeds itself in us in a way that all those who follow never can. Not that the subsequent loves aren’t as good. For most people, hopefully, the ones that come later, that last, are ultimately more nourishing, steadier and more solid. But this doesn’t stop anyone from clicking on their first love’s new profile picture when it pops up on Facebook. You know, just to see.
Nancy Kalish has spent more than two decades studying couples who reunite after many years apart. The psychology professor at California State University at Sacramento says that the key to understanding the power of first love is knowing how it shaped us. In your first instance of requited romance, everything feels new, “and together you decide what love is.”
Kalish says her research has found that when both parties to a first love are truly available when they reunite — either single, widowed or divorced — the relationships have a 70 percent success rate. But many of the people she hears from these days are heartsick, rather than happy. A survey she conducted two years ago found that two-thirds of the people who found their lost love were married at the time of the reunion.
Singer, the psychologist who studies memory, has one more theory about why the thought of a first love can remain so fresh and alluring, even after decades go by. Perhaps especially after decades go by.
“I think it’s not just about the other person. It’s about who we were at that time,” he says. “We’re relishing the image of ourselves. They give us license to be the person we were once again – young and vibrant and beautiful.”
Whenever and whomever it was, your experience with your first love is etched into your memory forever.
It’s your first taste of romance – that strange thing people always talked about in the movies that you finally really began to understand. It’s your first time experiencing yourself more selflessly than you ever thought you could be, feeling things you never thought you were capable of feeling toward anyone. Thoughts of a first love are ripe with emotions, be them good, bad or a complicated mixture of the two.
Regardless of how positively or negatively the experience unfolded, your first love influences how you approach romance in significant ways, even if you don’t realise it.
Normally when people talk about falling in love, they use words such as ‘I feel like I’m high,’ ‘I feel euphoric,’ ‘I can’t stop smiling’ — those kinds of very intoxicated types of feelings.
Some people might consider someone a first love if they felt a strong physical connection with that person – if they felt “swept away,” as Dr. Dardashti called it – but for most people, the strength of the emotions is what’s most important.
So, perhaps a first love really is the deepest. For one, first loves seem to help us craft our definition of love – which, as we all know, varies from person to person.
In that sense, perhaps a first love is the deepest in a literal way, creating a foundation upon which other relationships build themselves higher and higher like a skyscraper until that first love becomes completely out of reach, too far down to be touched.
“To tap into that state of love a little bit with your partner, see if you can look at him or her with those same eyes and tap into that state,” Dr. Dardashti said, is wonderful.
In conducting some in-depth research, I found 15 truths about love that we tend to forget when imagining our perfect relationship.
1. Love is a choice.
2. Love is not infatuation.
3. Love takes time.
4. Love requires patience.
5. Love takes work.
6. Love requires being present
7. Love is kindness.
8. Love for yourself is a prerequisite, before you can love another.
9. Love is not selfish and self-absorbed.
10. Love is being all in.
11. Love is never perfect.
12. Love is about being with someone you can be yourself around.
13. Love can take you by surprise…
14. Love is commitment.
I feel Tyler Knott Gregson sums up this weeks topic really well when he said;
“Somewhere someone thinks they love someone else exactly like I love you. Somewhere someone shakes from the ripple of a thousand butterflies inside a single stomach. Somewhere someone is packing their bags to see the world with someone else. Somewhere someone is reaching through the most terrifying few feet of space to hold the hand of someone else. Somewhere someone is watching someone else’s chest rise and fall with the breath of slumber. Somewhere someone is pouring ink like blood onto pages fighting to say the truth that has no words. Somewhere someone is waiting patient but exhausted to just be with someone else. Somewhere someone is opening their eyes to a sunrise in someplace they have never seen. Somewhere someone is pulling out the petals twisting the apple stem picking up the heads up penny rubbing the rabbits foot knocking on wood throwing coins into fountains hunting for the only clover with only 4 leaves skipping over the cracks snapping the wishbone crossing their fingers blowing out the candles sending dandelion seeds into the air ushering eyelashes off their thumbs finding the first star and waiting for 11:11 on their clock to spend their wishes on someone else. Somewhere someone is saying goodbye but somewhere someone else is saying hello. Somewhere someone is sharing their first or their last kiss with their or no longer their someone else. Somewhere someone is wondering if how they feel is how the other they feels about them and if both they could ever become a they together. Somewhere someone is the decoder ring to all of the great mysteries of life for someone else. Somewhere someone is the treasure map. Somewhere someone thinks they love someone else exactly like I love you. Somewhere someone is wrong.”