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.

If you enjoyed this piece please consider giving your blessing to my Facebook Fan Page. Thank you.

* 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.

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11,642 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. just chiming i says:

    TLWR
    Just as someone spoke of their interpretations of your marriage that they have no idea about, di was called a liar and hf cant seem to address it even after trapped/Dani came back to set things straight. Its been said here before those who smellt it dealt it. HF keepsqquestioning everyone. Why? Maybe because she is Sybil?

  2. ANON says:

    When things are swept aside and left open ended then it’s not resolved. I agree with just chiming in.

    Dani stepped in and wrote what she wanted to say and Di was trying to reconcile that and that is okay. She’s entitled to resolve it.

    You do call people out on their take on your life TLWR and yet if someone else does the same you shame them for speaking up.

  3. Question says:

    The article is about finding a lost love, is this blog about that?
    Does anyone know where I may find such a blog?

  4. Anon says:

    Question, this is the blog. Everyone has a love and we’re all lost.

  5. Anon says:

    Is that your final post TLWR?

  6. Have Faith says:

    TLWR
    The anger directed towards me obviously goes
    well beyond who is and isnt real. At times I dont know if I should defend myself or just ignore. There is no point in answering their questions anyways as no answer would satisfy them.

  7. Anon says:

    Have Faith, I guess accepting that you did write those things would go a long way. To deny or pretend you didn’t say them is the same as saying the other person is to blame for what was said. Own your words.

    I am sure TLWR can find some psych article about taking responsibility for what we say to others.

  8. Have Faith says:

    I dont deny saying those things ,….I just said I would not continue to argue about them.

  9. Anon says:

    Have Faith,

    You owned the words. That’s a start. You owe Di an apology.

  10. Have Faith says:

    I said the words because I believe the words. Still do. That is all.

  11. Anon says:

    That says a lot then. Now we know.

  12. Question says:

    I do not understand if this is the blog. The post are not about Lost loves as in the article. I am in search of that blog. Whom is writing here is not writing about the subject. Am I wrong? Please direct

  13. Anon says:

    Question.

    This is not the blog. Move along

  14. Anonymous says:

    Scroll back question and you will find the answers.

  15. just chiming i says:

    Have faith you are delusional

  16. Have Faith says:

    Why thank you jus’ chimin’. I do try.

  17. Anon says:

    I think that’s her way around her dumb statements. She’s caught so she’s standing firm. When in doubt, smile and nod.

  18. --This Space Left Intentionally Blank-- says:

    Here’s a song for LOML and anyone else ready to get off the fence

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDsr4etJlwc

  19. --This Space Left Intentionally Blank-- says:

    My Immortal by Evanescence

    …..
    When you cried I’d wipe away all of your tears
    When you’d scream I’d fight away all of your fears…

    These wounds won’t seem to heal
    This pain is just too real
    There’s just too much that time cannot erase
    …..

  20. To Love Without Regret says:

    @ Question

    This is the professional blog of Dr Rob Dubrenski Ph.D. He is a Clinical Psychologist practicing in New York, and has written two blogpieces on this site about ‘First Loves’: this one and it’s follow-up linked below his above post. The only blog I know of that is dedicated to ‘Lost Loves’ is that of Professor Emeritus Professor Nancy Kalish published on the Psychology Today blogfarm, titled ‘Sticky Bonds’, which I linked to earlier on this page (August 28, 12:52).

    Other than that there is also her ‘Lost and Found Lovers’ webpage and forum, which has a selection of her articles and other media linked, and miscellaneous posts, articles, videos and other media on the subject scattered around the internet which you can find googling “lost loves” and wading through all the other stuff. I hope that answers your question, and that you find what you’re looking for.

  21. Di says:

    @ question
    Or if you scroll back HERE to say… a year or so ago, you will find supportive people gathering to find others with similar circumstances. Bonding and sharing and relating. Though as far back as the beginning you are always going to find your variety off trolls or pot stirrers and those suspicious of everyone, each with their own issues. It’s just the nature of the beast when people are not made to be accountable. When everyone had to enter an email in order to comment it seemed as if everyone behaved with slightly more class. But this is probably the best free site where in most cases you will get actual feedback from each other (Not always a good thing) that hopefully for the most part is helpful. We all landed here because somehow we all have been affected by a first love reconnection. So bear with us, we do usually manage to get back around to the subject at hand.

  22. Anon says:

    TLWR
    I think Question’s question was rhetorical…also, it is Rob Dobrenski, not Dubrenski and why do you feel the need to direct people? Are you Dr. “Dubrenski’s” lackey?

  23. Anon says:

    TLWR

    Have you decided when your final thoughts will be posted? I am still waiting. You said final thoughts and then gone from here. It must be a long one, you are taking your time to compose maybe.

  24. Just Chiming in says:

    I agree there have been some very helpful links and heart tugging songs that many have shared here. People have been there for each other and new people have been welcomed and embraced. Most people give and take by sharing their stories and others comment and bonds have been made that will probably last long after this place is no longer here. Though I think that even though some of the commentors seem a little crazy or have their own agendas, the good Doctor has benefited by the volume of responses he has recieved though now, to each other more than responding to the article. Though veryone who has found this place has made it popular and I credit that to the excellent article Dr. Rob penned that brought us all here originally.

  25. Di says:

    Anon,
    I think you are right. I do feel that “Questions” question (lol) was rhetorical as well. I just thought it was a good opportunity for me to vent one last time before I let it go. Stupid I know. NOW me<<<<< letting go! :) …. or not. 😉

  26. Anon says:

    Di, you are always kind.

    I still think Have Faith owes you an apology but she isn’t big enough to give it. You didn’t deserve any of that here.

  27. Have Faith says:

    Its apparent who the real trolls are.

  28. Anon says:

    Who are they? Fill us in. Maybe Rod Stewart and Van Morrison?

  29. Don't Do It says:

    Hope this link works. Maybe we are all operating under different definitions of trolls

    http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/weirdwebculture/f/what-is-an-internet-troll.htm

  30. good thoughts says:

    -very informative article

    Why Do People Enjoy Being Internet Trolls?

    Ans: it is a kind of power rush or ego trip to be a troll. Being online is a place that is largely free of perceived consequences… an insecure person can get a sense of power online, without ever having to face someone directly. With the Internet being a world of imagination and fantasy for some, cowardly users can forge an alter ego for themselves, and act out their feelings of anger and inadequacy. It’s sad and unfortunate that our advanced communications also brings out the darker side of many people.

  31. Anon says:

    What’s also sad is that people can’t share and communicate on a common problem and not be called fake liars. Everyone’s character called into question by self imposed gate keepers.

  32. Question says:

    Thank you to the people that gave me the blog , it costs money but I will try a visitor first.

  33. Have Faith says:

    Well it sure ain’t this brown eyed girl ,Anon.

  34. Anon says:

    That song always reminds me of the movie Sleeping with the Enemy

  35. Di says:

    Anon,
    EXACTLY.

  36. Di says:

    Question,
    I think that I found that same site around the same time I found this place. I remember it costing $$ as well so i moved on.The thing that I like or” liked” about this place is first, the article by Dr. Rob was so spot on. And described exactly what I was going through! And felt It is like being on a planet with two headed people and feeling so out of place and then finding a place on that planet where one headed people gather and feeling as if you found people who get how you are feeling.
    Don’t let the latest craziness scare you off. It really is a supportive place. The other place may cost money because it may be monitored. Which by the way might be a full time job considering the last few weeks here. Lol.

  37. Words for thought: all the backbiting is ridiculous here lately. Some of us have real issues. Not that anyone seems to care, but I will vent anyway. Yesterday had a MRI of the brain. Yes, it was on Saturday. Scared –surprised FL texted early that morning with encouraging words then texted again that afternoon to see how I was. Just when I am about to believe he actually doesn’t care he does something unexpected like actually worrying about me. Right now I personally could use that kind of support. How many times have we all been faced with illness and even death and we still don’t see how short life really is. I want to believe in him because I need something to hold onto right now. Please people think about what this place is about. Stop intentionally hurting each other. LET IT GO!

  38. good thoughts says:

    “I’ll Be There” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaJDjBar6V8

    Hang in there, Warily Listening. If you believe (as I do) that everything happens for a reason, then believe that this scary time that you’re having to go through will work out for the best in your life. Don’t hesitate to reach out to those who can lend you their wisdom & strength right now!

    It was almost exactly two years ago that I endured all the same fears and felt so alone. But you never know what support is available to you unless you reach out for it.

    Prayers to you, Warily!

  39. To Love Without Regret says:

    If someone really loves you, as a genuine lost love will probably do for the rest of their lives, they will always be there for you. Whatever it takes. As long as they know what you’re going through that is – so yes, please reach out. Back in the day when it seemed to me like the real thing, I would have dropped everything and been there like a shot if I had ever found out I was needed. Regardless and without condition.

  40. Di says:

    Warily,
    You are right. I do believe that people behave the way they feel inside and so if that is the case, with some here, it’s wrong to not just ignore. Thanks for the reminder.. So sorry for your recent scary time! I too will be praying!! I believe that good things come out of bad and it is nice to know that your fl had to let you know he cares. Now we will pray that totally fine or whatever prompted the test will be healed! TLWR is right, the truth really does take on a life of its own when the rubber meets the road. When I learned about my fl’s dad passing away, two years of n/c couldn’t stop me from sharing my heart with him and letting him know I’ll always care! I’m glad you know now, though sorry it took this for you to know. You are right. In the scheme of things life has a way of showing us the important stuff! Will be praying!

  41. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Warily Listening, hope your health issues are resolved soon. And thank you for speaking up about the bickering on this thread. Was thinking the same thing, life is too short and most here have bigger fish to fry. Your FL still loves you in all likelihood. Hopefully his reaching out provided some comfort in this scary situation you are facing.

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