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 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 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 and a Casting Producer will be in touch ASAP.

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12,172 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous – “Lots of people will be hurt…” –as opposed to staying put and living a lie. Right.”

    Well, exactly. That’s the catch 22. A decision must be made to hurt someone. Just who will it be?

    Have Faith – For sure, my wife would have some serious issues with me connecting with FL. If my marriage was not good, I would be gone in a heartbeat. My wife deserves a good marriage.

    I was thinking this morning that since both of our lives (FL & I) are really pretty good right now, best to leave it alone. I’m wondering if I can talk with FL and not take it to any notion of us getting together. So confused.

  2. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Anonymous: Trust me when I say you won’t be able to extract yourself from the rabbit hole. I’ve tried. My FL has tried. Once we spent time talking, the attraction only escalated. And then meeting, well it only spiraled further out of control. Now we still communicate although both of us know we shouldn’t. If your marriage is good then cherish it with all your heart. I was ready to exit mine, but FL was not. Had I realized that perhaps I would have held back my feelings and not gone there.

  3. Have Faith says:

    I think for everyone who becomes involved in a reconnection with a FL/LL,there is a reason it happens, whether or not that reason is apparent immediately. It’s true, as mentioned by the first anonymous, that the feelings for a FL are separate and independent of the feelings for a spouse, but I still think those feelings for a spouse have a strong affect on how the FL reconnection plays out.

    There have been only a couple of people who posted here who claimed that their marriages were very good and that they were happy with their spouse. Even so, those people either had affairs with their FL or considered leaving their marriage for their FL. Why? Denial, possibly.

    If we are truly happy and content, have no regrets with how our lives have unfolded, and feel that our spouse truly loves us, why would we do something to so deeply hurt this person we claim to love? And all of the people who claimed to love their spouses, also claimed to have never had had affairs before or since. Clearly the “pull” to be with their FL is so strong that it can put an apparently “strong” marriage in jeopardy.

    Maybe we need to look at the reasons why, and I think to do that we really need to do a whole lot of soul searching. We need to look back on our lives and our relationships to understand how we came to be where we currently are. If your marriage is dysfunctional consider what are the reasons you were attracted to your spouse in the first place, and what has kept you in this dysfunctional marriage. What does staying in a dysfunctional marriage say about you? Are you a glutton for punishment? Are you fearful of leaving? Think about why you and your FL are apart, and what caused that in the first place. There is no easy “fix” for anything – especially something this complicated.

  4. Cant_Let_go_90 says:

    Sorry – this was me. I hit submit but forgot to add my name.

    Anonymous – “Lots of people will be hurt…” –as opposed to staying put and living a lie. Right.”

    Well, exactly. That’s the catch 22. A decision must be made to hurt someone. Just who will it be?

    Have Faith – For sure, my wife would have some serious issues with me connecting with FL. If my marriage was not good, I would be gone in a heartbeat. My wife deserves a good marriage.

    I was thinking this morning that since both of our lives (FL & I) are really pretty good right now, best to leave it alone. I’m wondering if I can talk with FL and not take it to any notion of us getting together. So confused.

  5. Cant_Let_go_90 says:

    Down the rabbit hole – I totally agree. I know that going down this path with connection and interaction will be almost impossible to come out of. For both of us.

    Have Faith – My marriage is pretty good. Not perfect, but I wouldn’t think any really are. That’s not what bothers me about it. I know that when I married, I did it because She was a great person AND the one I wanted (FL) wasn’t available. Now that I have learned that FL was still in love with me then, (haven’t asked if she still feels she loves me, but I suspect yes) I have huge regrets for not pursuing her then.

    I do need to do a lot of soul searching. Why does FL have such a strong presence in my heart, why am I drawn to her? I hope to find out and then know if it’s something I should act on.

  6. Cant_Let_go_90 says:

    So I just came across this, and it makes great sense.

    “love, especially in marriage will ebb and flow. You may fall out of love with your partner, but the things that caused you to fall in love in the first place will hopefully bring you back together. You may start to fall in love with someone else, but the testament to a strong marriage is your commitment to working with the person you have chosen to give them the opportunity to fall back in love.” Don’t give up. It sucks and it takes time, but I’ve been there and hopefully you can find a way to both fall back in love

  7. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Can’t let go: I too had read that and it does make sense. Relationships are not static, which is probably why a lot of marriages fail. The key word is choose. Both must choose one another every day. Some of us have married spouses who for whatever reason, choose to keep their focus elsewhere the majority of the time. That made the pull toward my FL even harder to resist.

  8. Have Faith says:

    Some marriages are worth working on and some just aren’t.Sometimes the best choice is to leave. Depends on more than committment, many factors to consider.
    If your spouse chooses to lie, cheat, abuse alcohol, etc…is that marriage worth saving? Probably not.

  9. WILLIAM says:

    To all: As usual, I have A LOT of catching up to do. Due to time constraints (work, my passion/work, family illnesses/other, car problems, computer problems, etc, etc) I have not posted in over a month! BUT, I have been reading fairly often, and after hearing “What Is Life” come on yesterday, just as I was entering my hometown and thinking of my FL (upon returning home from the gym), well…let’s just say I figured that was my “cue” to check in on here with an update!

    Back on October 13, I last left you with these words:

    “Guess I’ll shoot for tomorrow for the next part (as a teaser: it involves a quote, a story and a dream).”

    I probably should refrain from saying stuff like that, at least until I absolutely KNOW that I can find time to post!

    Anyway, I will address that thought soon enough (when I can). But in finding time to look back and re-read some stuff, I noticed that I had failed to respond to some Q’s directed at me. So…I just wanted to apologize for not getting back to some of you. I did get a chance to read some of those Q’s last month, but thought that I had already responded to them on here. Things have just been so crazy busy lately…I’m sorry for leavin’ a few of you hangin’ !! And, I plan on going back to see if I can answer those Q’s tonight…

    PS: I have a pretty large file of accumulated info on these various FL/LL topics/issues, and wanted to share 3 article links that I added within the past month. They run the gamut like so many of my saved articles do…one involves a happy ending, one is critical of this phenomenon and one involves a sad ending:

  10. Anonymous says:

    my husband is starting talking to his high school sweetheart its been 40 years ago. he tell me everything about what they talking about even it hurts listening. oneday they talking on the phone she ask my husband what ready happen and went to flog to her .why they never end up together.? my husband told her she got pregnant they then he cant be with her but the still be bestfriend. my husband been telling me how good a person she is and have a good personality and always love her as a friend and he cant be with her. and told her that he is happy with me and im the only woman he never been around around on me. he is been honestly with me and our 5 year old son. when they were young dating my husband and her been off and on relastionship but still come back and been close to one another and my husband said she is the number one even through he dating other woman. I feel like they always have a connection feeling. at first make me crazy to think about it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    As promised, just gonna answer a few Q’s and “weigh in“:

    @Warily Listening (from October14):

    “William, You definitely disected my last post. While I understand that you have loved 3 different women in different ways, and each have given you some of what you desire, I truly believe my FL was (THE ONE). Had I had my way back then, we would have never separated.”

    “Anyway, I guess what it all comes down to is the heart wants what the heart wants.”

    “So, William, if the one your heart desires doesn’t have the same desires, as hard as it is, let someone else love you and try to love them in return with as much of your heart as possible.”

    [W: Yeah, Warily, each of those 3 women has given me “something”…or even, probably more accurately, “NEARLY ALL” of what I could have ever wanted. And, I think that in most cases, “nearly all” seems pretty darn good. I mean, nothing can really ever be totally perfect, I guess. It’s just that religious, age, or timing issues can sometimes be the deal-breaker that governs, even when everything else seems just right!

    For me, MY HEART always seems to gravitate towards my FL. There is just something so deep within me that will probably always be there (maybe because she was THE FIRST?). And, to be fair, my FL never really was able to show me any type of “deep caring” (like the other women did) DUE TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES. She did make an inquiry (way back in 9th grade), and showed evidence of “feelings” (from her reaction to my response and what she posted in my yearbook). However, I kind of “quashed” that from my actions and inactions. I held back when I needed to pursue. So maybe she could have shown me something similar if she had been free when we first reconnected (rather than engaged). I guess I might never know…

    And on that note, as for the others, they were only able to open up to me (about their true feelings) during the times that they were free (and not in relationships). So maybe my FL could have given me more of what I wanted/needed, if only fate had allowed for it!

    As for the last part of your above post, I think I’ve stated before on here that I AM WILLING to “let” someone love me given the right circumstances (time, place, mutual goals).]

    Guiltridden says:
    October 15, 2015 at 1:08 am

    “@William in some ways I’m pleased when someone like you can relate to some of the things I say in one of my ranting monologues! But then actually would prefer if you could find the love and happiness you deserve … Rather than, like me, dwelling on the past and the ‘what could have beens’ that are a recurring theme for many of us here. Hope I’m not overstepping the line here but do you have a current ‘significant other’ in your life at the moment? It seems you are such a caring person and if you are single you could focus on finding someone new in you life to give your attention too?”

    [W: GR, you weren’t overstepping the line at all…and that “significant other” Q always comes into play when dealing with these FL/LL “FLAD” issues. So it is very pertinent in the discussions.

    As for myself, I just have WAY TOO MUCH happening right now to enter into a relationship…and not enough hours in a day. I think that I have mentioned before that I work 2 different jobs (one involves my passion), and that I am a caregiver for 2 elderly parents…and I live with them (tough on relationships), right across from the HS where me and my FL attended junior high (which haunts me almost daily). So I am “ultra-busy” (too busy to give what I should to a relationship), plus I have virtually NO desire to go out and meet someone from this area! {I really need a change in scenery, the “vibe” around here is just not good for me…my once-thriving town is now decaying, and things are closing up…and my FL now has her happy life (with someone from another region) in an affluent suburb on the other side of the major city…while all I have are my memories of her haunting me day and night!} Anyway, I am at least “communicating with” a few women by social PM…and I have seen one of the aforementioned women who I used to date (when she comes in from out-of-state). As I’ve said, I AM OPEN to finding the woman who can help me “forget” my FL (if it is truly possible)…but I probably need to break free from my past as much as I can…I probably need a new town to call home…and I just can’t make that kind of move at this time.]

    A Sleepless & Heartsick Dreamer says:
    October 15, 2015 at 7:20 am

    WILLIAM, RE: “It’s like I said way, way back on here: my FL could be firing shots into me, and I’d still be saying “but I love you” all the while as it was happening. That’s scary stuff!”

    Ah, but that’s the beauty of love; when it goes both ways, two people are interconnected in their need to protect each other (and not just him/herself) –knowing that a pain that your loved one suffers will hurt you just as much. And, IMO, this means that when two people love each other, it’s the stupidest thing in the world for them to push the other away or deliberately hurt their loved one. It’s a lot like shooting yourself in the foot (or the heart) –especially if they’re also soul mates and can literally feel each others’ pain!! :-/

    [W: That (the above) is a beautiful thought! But “when it goes both ways” and the “soul mate” thing are very rare indeed! I wish I could say that I’ve experienced that kind of DEPTH…I know I have ON MY PART towards my FL, but don’t think that kind of depth is reciprocated by her. And even with those who have indicated that they “love” or are even “in love” with me…would they actually jump in front of a bus for me? I do know what that feeling is like from one side though (and many people never experience even that)…so at least I am thankful for having those “pure” feelings (as much as they hurt).]

    OK, I think I’ve answered any Q’s and thoughts at least through mid-October. I’ll try to catch up more on the weekend if I can. Sending (((HUGS))) and positive thoughts to all of my brothers and sisters in “FLAD”…and welcome to the board recent “anonymous” and “Can’t Let Go” !! You are not alone!

  12. Anonymous says:

    As quoted from the previous post:

    [people are interconnected in their need to protect each other (and not just him/herself) –knowing that a pain that your loved one suffers will hurt you just as much]

    Something for all of us to think about. Remember we are all interconnected (I don’t mean only thru internet!) and our actions affect others. Another thing to remember – if you truly love someone you will accept that their happiness may not be with you. Love can never be forced, nor can it be prevented.

  13. WILLIAM says:

    Hey folks, when I came back on here to check if my most recent post got put up, I realized that I first sent it as “anonymous” !! (lol) That’s because my default info as “WILLIAM” doesn’t come right up anymore, and I hit the send button too quickly. Oh well, it’s me (November 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm) just in case you had any doubt! 😉

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Rob: Comment denied (lose the snark and comment on *why* you disagree with a previous comment).

  15. Jane says:

    ive just been reunited with my first love in a gentle way . We are now both single again, it felt exciting to meet up as the hurt was nothing major.I never stopped loving him & him me we were a ke to say this without it being a chat up line.
    I was blown away by him he is everything I remember. I’m anti payed a lovely thing, a unique relationship, I would never want to meet any other ex boyfriend. In fact ive very much avoided them.
    I remember the time a first saw this one, my heart skipped, stil does. I havn’t had the same with anybody else. He is beautiful.

  16. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Jane, How wonderful for you both! So nice to hear of a happy reunion. Best wishes to you both!

  17. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    How long were you and your love apart?

  18. Aretha says:

    I seem to remember you on here a while ago. So glad you are happy and your heart still skipped a beat. :-)

  19. Have Faith says:

    The only Jane that was here before, Aretha, didn’t tell us her story. She just posted comments. Perhaps this is a different Jane.

  20. Bob the 8th says:

    Today is my true love (Fl’s) 50th birthday! I have been thinking about it a lot yesterday while at work. I realize it has been over 30 years ago since she ended it with me, but I want her to have a special day on her big day! I wish there was some way I could communicate to her that I wish her a happy birthday? Of course, all of you know that my heart will always belong to her, and whether or not she ever thinks about me is something I will always wonder about. My first love is 3 years younger than me, and because she is was only 15 years old when we were together I always wondered “could it be possible she was too young” – to know what love is? She acted more mature than my self (and I was quite mature compared to other 18 year old males that were my age at the time). In fact, after my FL broke up with me (a couple of months later) I met & had a serious relationship with a young lady who was 15 months older than me (the relationship lasted a year and a half) – I was hoping that relationship would make my FL jealous and drive her to “want me back”, but that never happened. A lot of years have come-and-gone, and my heart continues to sing “baby come back”! Have a great birthday my true love!

  21. Have Faith says:

    Tonight my (ex)husband will be back in town for a short visit. His previous visits have not gone that well, so I am kind of preparing myself now for his usual BS, such as baiting me with nasty comments muttered under his breath and other childish tricks. But I find that if we don’t talk much then we don’t fight lol.

    I guess I will just have to accept that there will never be any way to communicate with him and accept that I will never get any answers to some of the questions I have asked him about his strange past behaviour. His answer will always be that he doesn’t remember the incidents in question, and even though he can’t remember them, he does know that my version of the story is WRONG…funny how that works. Even funnier that he can’t even realize how stupid he sounds when he says that.

    Bob the 8th – I think I’ve noted before the timing of your FL’s birthday with my own – just one of those coincidences in life I guess. Here I am talking to a stranger on here about our FL’s ( that we both can’t get over), and there is this similarity between her birthday and mine…….Bob, I know that you have been on this site for quite some time, unable to get your FL out of your head, but I can’t remember if you have you ever tried to friend request her on FB? If so, did she not reply to your previous requests? If that happened it may be that her husband is jealous and insecure perhaps. Just wondering, have you ever mentioned to us why your FL broke up with you?

  22. Bob the 8th says:

    I do not why she broke up with me, and in retrospect I should have pressed her on that – and found out why. I assumed we would get back together (because I thought we had such a strong love). Because she broke up with me (& because of my pride) I thought it was her duty to come back to me. I have not sent her a FB request, but I have sent her husband one (2 different times) – her husband was one of my close friends growing up (from 9 to 17 years old). I do not want to disturb her marriage, but at the same time I still want to know why, and if she still has any feelings for me.

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