Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net

They say that you never forget your first love. And with the exception of yours truly, who would rather stick his tongue in a bear trap than even think about his high school girlfriend, many look back on their first romances with fond feelings. Although not everyone thinks of that relationship for more than a passing moment or so, some must wonder what it would be like to rekindle the romance they had when they were teenagers or college-aged.

Suppose for a minute that you could. What would that be like?

As of 2003, Dr. Nancy Kalish had studied over 2,000 “lost love” relationships. She said that three-quarters of first loves who reunite years later decide to stay together, even when the reunion begins as an adulterous affair. Normally, most marriages that begin as affairs terminate. How are these people reconnecting and why would the relationship work at a later date?

The web, of course, is where most of these meetings begin. When Dr. Kalish was doing her research in the early 2000′s, the most popular site for finding people from the past was Classmates.com. At that time, the site found that 36 percent of respondents had used the net to look up or contact a former significant other. And Dr. Kalish stated in an interview with the Boston Globe that while many people begin their search as simple curiosity, affairs can escalate quickly *. The interviewer, Carey Goldberg, noted an anonymous respondent from Dr. Kalish’s research to highlight this point:


“It’s like you’re falling in love all over again,” she said. Her first boyfriend found her on the web, and before she knew it, she was obsessed, and then lying to her husband, and then sexually unfaithful, and then caught by her husband – who, to her continuing gratitude, stuck with her instead of divorcing her.

Dr. Kalish brings up a very interesting point: “therapists tend to underestimate the powerful nature of such old loves, especially first loves. As a result, they tend to tell such patients that their feelings for their re-found loves are based on fantasy and that they can find the same feelings in their own marriages if they only try. But that fails to take into account that reunited lovers really do know and love each other, and a first love, in particular, remains unique. This is not about sex, it is not about the spouse or the marriage, it is not a midlife crisis,” she said. “The reunion is a continuation of a love that was interrupted.”

Carey Goldberg notes some research indicates that a teenager may attach specifically to a first lover in much the same way as a baby attaches to a mother. This hypothesis was given by Dr. Linda Waud, a Psychologist who wrote her dissertation on three reunited couples.

“There is an actual neurological attachment that happens between these individuals,” she said, “and that’s why it’s enduring and it never leaves your mind. It’s there forever and ever.” Interestingly, Dr. Waud herself reconnected with a long-lost love after 35 years apart.

In her in-depth interviews of the three couples, she noted that they had unusually intense sexual connections, which made her posit that sexual attachment may work with the same kind of specificity as baby-mother attachment.

Although a dissertation with only three couples makes generalization extremely difficult, she is onto something. I’ve made the very mistake that Dr. Kalish pointed out: that the former love is simply a fantasy and that one’s current relationship can satisfy this new need. And this is coming from someone who is not only a product of divorce, but someone who also spends most of his days thinking about why marriages fail, so I obviously thought I had some weight behind my advice. After I was wrong not once but three times with clients who ultimately chose to leave their marriage for their high school sweethearts, I had to rethink my position. There’s a possibility for a permanent footprint in your brain when it comes to your first love.
What does this mean for current relationships? With Facebook now in complete control of the human race, more and more people are reconnecting. Many will get back in touch with old flames, possibly their very first romance. Depending on how those conversations go – and yes, of course many of them will be simple hello’s and good-bye’s – casual chat may turn into flirtation, then a discussion about status and availability. And when the relationship moves from Facebook to IM to text to telephone and then to personal contact, the attachment that Dr. Waud talks about has perhaps manifested itself in a true rekindling of the romance, with much more backing than any affair could produce. For some, decisions will need to be made. If married, do I leave for what might be really ‘the one?’ Or do I stay and honor what I’ve agreed to while relinquishing what my mind had perhaps bonded to years ago?

Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that question and I’m pretty sure that we could get a 50/50 breakdown if we asked enough people. Every person in this spot will need to answer it, however. And from what I’ve seen in my practice, it’s an agonizing choice, especially when the current relationship is at least somewhat satisfying. So essentially I’m along for the ride as people decide what is in their best interests as well as the other parties involved. This can take months, perhaps years, to weigh out the pros and cons, the practical and emotional changes involved in life-altering decisions like these, the risks involved in making the ‘wrong’ choice. In other words, watching a client grapple with a problem like this is very difficult to watch. Even if you think you know the right choice, you can’t give it to the client. He or she truly has to come to it via the self. It can’t be spoon fed. Some will leave their families and begin new lives with a former love, usually with a large amount of guilt. Others will stay put and feel that permanent imprint tugging at them. Either way, it’s not a particularly envious position in which to be.

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* I’d link to this specific article, written by Carey Goldberg, but it’s archived and you have to pay to read it. Hit up Globe.com if my piece doesn’t summarize it sufficiently for you or if you don’t mind spending the fee.

Related Post: Reuniting With Your First Love…On the Net (Revisited)

Update (11/20/13): I’m not sure if this is of interest to anyone, but I received this solicitation and agreed to post it. Consider it useful until early December, 2013:

Now Casting: People Looking For Missed Love Connections!

Do you believe that your one true love is actually someone from your past? Do you often think about “what could have been” with an old flame? Or perhaps someone that you met and felt the timing was off, but could have blossomed under different circumstances? Do you dream of reuniting with a high school or college boyfriend or girlfriend, but don’t know where to find them? Was there a person that you had a steamy vacation tryst with, but have never been able to track down?

If so, we want to hear from you! A major production company is casting for people who dream of working with an expert to make a love (re)connection with someone from their past. To learn more or refer a friend, please email us at MissedConnectionsCasting@gmail.com and a Casting Producer will be in touch ASAP.

7,318 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Adam says:

    He still loves you and reading your posts make me remember some things I told my LL when reconnected.. I miss her so much and she’s now pregnant (which I only found out about by googling her and saw a target baby registry.. It destroyed me all over again and then a couple weeks ago I looked at a picture of her pregnant on my friends Facebook.. I almost threw up from seeing how beautiful she is pregnant but for the guy that came along and got to marry her.. I never got to date her beause in her mind I was too much of a player and she was scared I’d cheat.. It’s been over 7 years since she met her husband and I’m still completely in love with her! I’m sorry I went off on my own story, I have full version on April 13th if anybody new here is bored and interested lol. Longtime posters have heard it several times so I don’t want to keep explaining it.. I am just really upset that she’s pregnant because she was the only girl I ever saw possibly having a family with..

  2. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Adam says:
    September 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm
    He still loves you and reading your posts make me remember some things I told my LL when reconnected.

    What things did you tell your LL?

  3. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Adam,
    I found your story (posted as Torn?). I’m now up to speed.

  4. Adam says:

    Stuff about little things I remember and will never forget about her, like the night we met.. I think I put the things I said in the story on April 13th, I forgot to mention my name at that time was “torn”. Since I posted the story I emailed her happy birthday and said I hope all is well but never got a reply.. I know it’s because her husband gave her an ultimatum after finding out we were emailing behind his back 2 years ago.. If you read the posts around the middle of May you will see they are mostly ppl trying to help me because I was really depressed and then around the end of June I googled her and found out she was pregnant.. She’s due oct 11th and I’m very very upset.. I know she misses me but can’t talk because she is being faithful and wants her marriage to work so I may never hear from her again.. If you have time at least read my original story in April.. Thanks for the reply!

  5. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Adam, I did read your whole story from April.

    Do you think it’s possible that the more my LL and I talk, and he’s getting used to hearing from me, that the “novelty” of me is wearing off for him and he now sees me as just a friend and not the “one that got away”?

  6. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Adam,

    I cannot imagine the pain you must feel knowing that C is pregnant. I am so thankful that neither LL or I have any children. LL is the only person I can imagine ever having a kid with, but that dream will die. I’m 41 now and if God ever lets LL and I be together, we’ll probably be too old.

  7. Adam says:

    Thanks for reading my story! I doubt very seriously that he isn’t as addicted to talking to you like you are him. I’m pretty sure if I wouldn’t have messed up that our email relationship would have progressed to texts and calls and who knows.. But I do know her and her husband didn’t have the natural chemistry we had..
    I hate how we (ppl in relationships but not in love) have to be so sad.. or hurt SO by leaving them and not being sure if LL will leave their SO..
    You should be happy that you have contact with your LL and that he has told you the things he did! He defiantly is saying that his GF doesn’t have an interest in him and he loves that you do! He wants to be with you but isn’t going to leave his GF if you are still married…

  8. Adam says:

    Thanks for reading my story! I doubt very seriously that he isn’t as addicted to talking to you like you are him. I’m pretty sure if I wouldn’t have messed up that our email relationship would have progressed to texts and calls and who knows.. But I do know her and her husband didn’t have the natural chemistry we had..
    I hate how we (ppl in relationships but not in love) have to be so sad.. or hurt SO by leaving them and not being sure if LL will leave their SO..
    You should be happy that you have contact with your LL and that he has told you the things he did! He definitely is saying that his GF doesn’t have an interest in him and he loves that you do! He wants to be with you but isn’t going to leave his GF if you are still married…

  9. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Adam,

    I am happy to have contact with LL!

    LL’s GF has MS, so even if I wasn’t married, he would probably stay with her due to guilt. It’s sad that I sometimes forget I’m married. Probably because I’ve never felt married, always feels like roommates.

  10. Adam says:

    I know exactly what you mean about roommates.. I felt like that too.. But I’m so much happier now that I don’t have to hide my pain from my wife, but feel horrible for the pain I’ve caused my wife..

  11. Adam says:

    Something that hurts the most is that she hasn’t even let me know she’s pregnant.. I only lasted 3 years before I contacted her because I couldn’t bare the thought of her thinking I didn’t care about her.. It’s been almost 2 years since everything went bad and she ignored me. I figured by now she would have at least told me that she is pregnant and she doesn’t hate me because she knows I feel like she does sometimes.. Especially with the hormones, I figured she’d have broke down and contacted me, it makes me feel like I meant nothing to her. It hurts so bad to know that I’m not even allowed to know she’s pregnant and after the baby is born I won’t even know her name (I only know the due date and that it’s a girl because of finding the target registry) I wonder if it bothers C that she can’t tell me of if she really doesn’t worry about it much?

  12. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Adam,
    C probably wants to tell you her news, but maybe thinks too much time has gone by and that you don’t care anymore. That or she doesn’t want to rock the boat with her husband. I can’t imagine being in her position and not having thought of you at some point during her pregnancy.

  13. Adam says:

    I think she knows that I still miss her because of the things I said after 3 years of nc how she was the girl of my dreams and I’ve thought of her everyday.. I hope it’s only that she doesn’t want to mess up her marriage.. It upsets me because I have so much affection that I want to shower her in and I know a husband who “drinks too much” and stares at other women in front of her isn’t giving her attention! Also in my happy bday email this may, I said “you don’t need to worry about me bothering you, or any drunk texts lol.. I quit drinking after everything went down”. She was pregnant at the time but I didn’t know it.. It hurts that she still didn’t tell me.
    I want so bad to contact her so bad but I said I wouldn’t.. Now your comment that she may think Im over her after so long makes me want to let her know I care but I don’t want to bother her. It’s so painful to be completely out of her life!

  14. Adam says:

    It kills me how beautiful I think she is pregnant and she has no idea! And every freaking where I look or on tv everybody seems to be pregnant!

  15. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Constant reminders are everywhere for me too.

  16. STACEY ALLAM says:

    yall have an impossible situation on your hands one will not leave other until the other leaves there other what I one leaves the other and you leave your other and the other person wants to get back together with there spouse or girlfriend Everyone has to to do what is right for themselves not what is right for themselves not what is right based on what someone else did .

  17. skeptic/sketch says:

    Blah!! I had a pretty long comment typed and entered it, and the site said “problem with … well, I don’t remember what it said.. LOL! BUT it lost my comment!! I’ll see if I can remember what I said now.. but being I can’t remember what the site said, I’ll most likely say something totally different! :-/

  18. skeptic/sketch says:

    Well, hopefully the third time is the charm! Was trying a second time to write what I lost and a storm came through and shut the power off… ugh! I think it’s passed now.. at least the sun is back out!?

    Anywho… I was trying to say that I’m always amazed that more and more people keep finding this site.. I’m sure Dr Rob never saw this coming! It’s a wonderful site, though – it lets you know you’re not alone! Before I found this place I thought my situation was a bit unique – but it’s far from it! So many here with the same or similar situations! This place is kind of the silver lining of the bad situation we all found ourselves in – it’s helped me feel better about it, and I hope it will help all the new people I’ve seen here lately – many in just the past week or so!

    P Dreamer.. wanted to say thanks, I do try to believe the NC was for that reason – cause he feels “too much” and can’t handle it.. Still, I’ll never understand it! Maybe because I was willing to change the type of love I felt for him rather than lose him altogether.. I think Don’t Do It hit the nail on the head with her comment to Please God.. sometimes you just can’t understand WHY, but people are different – men and women are different – I’ve seen so many say that on here and elsewhere.. But if a man has feelings he knows he can’t do anything about, he’d generally rather just “shut off” and not deal with it rather than confront his feelings, talk about it, and find a compromise. And I know with my FL, ti was ALL or nothing! I’ll never get that, but that’s just his way… :-( I refuse to believe your “friend” doesn’t carry feelings for you in his heart, too – he just doesn’t seem to have the ability to access that. yours IS a pretty unique situation! I really think you’ll hear from him again at some point, though.. so both of us just have to live with the NC and be the happiest we can be without FL or “friend” in our lives, I guess? C’est la vie!?

    OK, so… all you men on here – if I’ve offended you with my generalization there, i’m sorry.. but for the most part, that’s pretty accurate, you have to admit!

    Just Once – I’m actually glad to hear you’ve decided to not open a can of worms – sometimes it’s just better to keep those old good memories and not “go there” again when you know you can’t follow through.. Looking back, I wish my FL would have done that – just let it be, kept his feelings to himself and not messed with my feelings, marriage, etc.. I always knew how he felt about me anyway, yet we’d remained friends for over 40 years.. Now that he professed his feelings to me and rattled my cage, so to speak, he can’t seem to be my friend anymore.. and that to me is the saddest part of the “mess” we ended up in trying to rekindle what should never have been rekindled! If you know you’re like him and can’t remain her friend if nothing can come of a reconnection anyway, DON’T DO IT!! (Boy, she chose her name well.. LOL!) You’ll both regret it! You may change those nice old memories you have to bitter and sad memories… and being you already said you both have families you wouldn’t want to upset, it’s just not worth the risk!!

    Oh… also… I agree with you, Adam with your advice to the girl about to get married to somebody she doesn’t truly love – my advice there is the same as my advice above – DON’T DO IT!! It’s easier to call off a wedding than to go through years of misery just “pretending” to be happy!

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