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.

4,665 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Harry says:

    Sorry to see 1 or 2 persons destroying the site. Please show some empathy .All we are doing is pouring our heart out & getting some sane advice. The facade of a marriage will not be saved by this constant interference by a disgruntled soul.Rather it will expedite the demise.

    Personally speaking I have got some wonderful advice in a short duration from people all over the world. This has helped in improving my marriage & in turn giving some sane advice to my FL who God allowing may live with peace post this Sunday meeting by the family friend. She said today I have helped open her eyes & in case the family friend had interfered earlier the abuse would have stopped long time ago.

    Seems the friend has strictly warned the cussed hubby of FL not to raise his hand no matter whatever be the provocation.he considers her as his sister & she can always contact him if he raise his hand again.

    Lets hope for the best. Thanks for all the help given here.

  2. Shake the Disease says:

    Complicated-I hope things get better really soon for you. I’m sure he’ll contact you very soon.

    Di-Your advice has helped me tremendously. Please never stop giving all of us help. It is really needed here.

    TLWR-It is so true what you said. Nobody but someone in our situation could even close to understand. I can’t describe the unconditional love I have for my FL. I just wanted to catch up and say hi. Yes I still loved him and thought about him but it was not my intention to meet up and make-out with him. Everything just happened so fast. Just by hearing his voice my pure love for him was somehow intertwined with the extreme passion I had for him when I was in HS. Every feeling I had for him came back. Now I have seen some other old boyfriends but it was no big deal. That’s why I thought talking to my FL would be no big deal. I was 100% wrong! I fell in love with him in an instant all over again and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

  3. Love of My Life says:

    Complicated I agree completely with what you said in the following post ….
    Complicated says: April 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm Annon 234and5 –. Ours stories are very similar. I, too, would never have thought of having an affair, even with a “star” crush. :D

    I still do not agree with “affairs” for the sake of having sex. I do not condone men or women having multiple affairs as a part of their lifestyle. The connection with FL is more than just sex … we are “Soul Mates”. You have to be in the FL/LL situation to really understand what we are going through. We don’t need someone telling us how bad we are. We need someone who understands what we are going through. It is not easy and we need someone to talk to when it just gets to be too much.

    I recently read an article on marriage. When the institution of marriage was created, humans did not live as old as we do now. So, marriages of 40, 50 and 60 years were not very common. The gist of the article was that maybe we are not meant to be with one person for that long, maybe we are meant to have more than one partner in our life time.

    I have been married for over 40 years, have raised my family, and worked all my life. For all those years I had FL in my heart and on my mine constantly. My husband and I have grown apart because we had no common interests besides the children, and they are now grown and have families of their own. My husband’s alcohol problem killed what love that I did have for him. Now we are retired and the future does not look too promising for me …. there is no love and hasn’t been for a long time. We are living like roommates. So, is it fair for him or me to continue the rest of our life like that? Very sad I think. Are we meant to be miserable for the rest of our life because we made the mistake of getting married promising “until death do us part” many years ago? I think not. We should be able to enjoy our “golden years” with someone we love and who loves us.

    My 2 cents worth. Hugs to all those suffering from FLAD … we need them. :D

  4. skeptic says:

    Wow, I went away for a few days and all hell broke loose on here while I was gone!! Took awhile to catch up, just glanced over a lot, especially the anon123456789 posts – as Long Time Reader said, they are just too hard to decipher! And even when I can “decipher” them, it’s sometimes hard to tell what they really mean – except that they generally are “mean” – like LTR said, too! Thanks to To Love Without Regret, who referred to Dr Rob’s “revisted” post – I hadn’t seen it before – but there’s another part of it I’ll just copy and paste now for any “mean-spirited” posters who aren’t here for the same reason as the rest of us – support and understanding… “Judging and being officious isn’t helpful, it’s simply pushing your own personal agenda, especially when you can never really know what the best choice is for the person sitting in front of you.”

    Complicated, I really feel for you.. it sounds like NC might be the best thing for now, considering what happened, but hopefully it won’t be forever. It sounds like you two do have that connection that can never be broken, and I think when he figures out a way to leave his marriage without losing all, he’ll be in touch – so hang in there! *hugs*

    Shake, good for you hanging in there without emailing or texting! I know how that “silence” after you finally get up the nerve to send one stings.. I remember that so well still, years later! But – even if it takes years like it did me, it does get easier, believe me! The silence still bothers me, and there are many things I’d like to share with him – but not as much anymore. And coming here talking about things helps! Maybe it’s like Di (anonnn the 1st! ;-) ) said – it may be kind of trading one addiction for another, but it’s a good thing if coming here can help people get through it… which is why I HATE to see one person (or maybe a couple, who knows? but seems like just one) messing up this “safe place to land” – as Di has also called it! (Love ya, Di – glad to see you’re back as “you” too – even though that was before I came here!) Hope all the regulars keep posting and coming back, too – I value all your opinions! (too many of you to list!) Listening to so many going through the “same but different” experience has opened my eyes to the way different people see it and handle it.. and though I realize it’s an “internet friendship” we’ve formed here – it’s real to me, too! Maybe if people were held accountable as before, it wouldn’t turn into a battle zone like it did a couple months back… and has somewhat again here? But then, I may not have ever posted, being I didn’t want to post anything with a real name or email that someone could trace, so I was so happy to find this “anonymous” group here! Guess maybe we just have to ignore the haters and keep supporting the ones we connect with!? Seems like there are many of us who want to do that – and there’s strengh in numbers!! :-)

  5. Dazed and Confused says:

    Complicated,

    My heart wasn’t 100% into my marriage before FL and I even had the first contact. The only way things could/can be worked out is if I do as he wants. I refuse to live my life like that any longer.

    Things with FL started out with him doing (or not doing as he wanted) until I got extremely upset and told him the relationship was over. I told FL that I was tired of always being the one to do as he wanted but was never reciprocated and that I refused to be in a relationship that was going to be that way.

    I started doing as I pleased (when I am not in school or doing homework). I go shopping and lunch with my friends and spend time with my daughter and grandchildren. FL didn’t like it when I wasn’t home and he wanted me there; he got to see what it was like to be on the receiving end.

    FL thought that by telling me he was going to sleep in his boys room that night that I would cave. I didn’t and told him to feel free to stay the night there and I would be moving out the next morning.

    When FL woke up the next morning, he had a much different attitude. I told him I was no longer going to be put second to golf or whatever he wanted to do when he is always my priority and he could do something for me that I wanted instead of me always doing what he wanted.

    I called my daughter and wanted to see the grandchildren for Easter, so got up and went. When FL discovered I was going to my daughter’s, he asked if he could go. I told him if he wanted to go he could but I wasn’t forcing him and that he could go and do as he pleased because I just didn’t care anymore.

    I told FL that because we are not having sex that I felt as though there is something wrong with me. I told him that he never seems interested and that as a new couple he should be wanting to all the time. What I have discovered, is that he is afraid to open his heart again because he doesn’t want to get hurt. I told him that is a chance we all have to take. How do I know he won’t break my heart?

    I joined a horseshoe league that starts Monday. Now because I joined the horseshoe league he is joining a golf league. That’s fine because I will be staying at my friend’s cottage starting tomorrow! Lets see how things go when I don’t come home at night!!

  6. Di says:

    Skeptic,
    I agree! Wow I went to work and came home and found a hot mess! I’d had a few thoughts while I was away, one was to attempt to let go of this place by starting a new writing project. I have taken the first step and am not being notified by email whenever someone posts here which has helped a lot. I actually have to do more than click on an email to get here.
    Another thought was to just make a pact with everyone to try to keep this positve and ignore all the negative comments. I have to admit it was hard to keep quiet even when you don’t know “know” me and we just have Internet Friendships, I appreciate souls such as YOU Skeptic!!!! You make a difference in my day.
    My fl filled all the empty spaces in my life month after month. When I thought that one conversation couldn’t top another, it would. No drug could ever send me so high and on the other hand, the experience of no contact sent me crashing lower than I’d ever been before.
    We would talk at certain times of days. When I’d work at night, I’d say that I was working later so that I could talk all the way home and pull over for a few extra minutes. When I’d go jogging or walking we would do it together. It is hard for me to go on the same walks and not feel very lonely.
    My poor husband could never measure up.
    I remember once in the beginning of our reconnection, I was at work and the phone rang and I said “I gotta go” and my fl said “don’t hang up, let me here you talk.” It was very silly but it felt so good knowing he was soaking up listening to me work. Fast forward a few years later… almost one year after no contact, my husband calls me at work, the phone rings and I have to answer it and I’M AT WORK!!! So I say hold on… and ask a coworker something and take a few minutes and hear my husband say…. ” HELLOOOOO?!” Impatiently. And for a split second I had this selfish thought like… Are you kidding me, do you know that there is someone out there that would die to hear me talking right now? Okay now lol. HOW puffed up can I get? But I am sharing this because I GET the pain. I know the ache. I remember the thrill of captivating your man. On the other hand I love my husband and so that is where I am right now. But I guess what I am getting at is where ever I came of as judging I want to apologize. I love you guys. And I am glad I didn’t leave all together cuz then I would have missed the likes of the great ones like you Skeptic! Thanks for your sweet words.
    Anyone want to join me on a pact to ignore the negative and win our soft place to fall back? That starts with not calling people out by name unless it is to say something uplifting.
    What do you guys think?
    Lets all put a hand in and cyberly agree!?
    I’m IN.
    I know that I couldn’t have made it through many nights of NC without you all!
    xoxo
    di

  7. Di says:

    Dazed,
    Oh honey please run, don’t walk to that cottage! And when you go, don’t forget anything so you don’t have to go back except perhaps to visit! But only if you want to. ;) Embrace it! You can do whatever you want to now and you haven’t really gotten a chance to enjoy it because you went from one demanding situation right into another one! Did you ever hear the song It’s My Turn? Down load it and then play it a thousand times to yourself so it sinks in! It’s your turn!
    ;)

  8. Di says:

    Shake thank you!!! It’s good to be back in all my transparencey! I kind of think that we should only respond to people who have a name and a story attached. This ANON stuff has made everyone so suspicious, no one knows who is who. There will always be trolls and I think someone nailed it, not everyone on here comes with a story like ours, I truly think that there are disgruntled spouses on here who are already suspicious and may have found our emails and see a lot of activity from here along with the topic and may have wanted to investigate or just observe or comment. I am not sure who else would be coming here commenting? But they definitely changed the tone of it here for a while.
    Shake, I sooo understand what you mean by the act of hearing your FL’s voice. Isn’t it crazy? I remember sitting there thinking that I couldn’t believe “who” I was talking to. It blew me away a few times. I still remember all the texts and emails and then it was the IMs that made it seems more intimate and when that phone rang, there was no way I couldn’t hear his voice and I melted. It was like a vacuum fast forwarding me in such a bittersweet way. I sooo GET it!
    Hugs!
    xoxo

  9. J. says:

    Complicated, finally got a chance to read through the old posts and read your most recent post. Love that lasts 45 years doesn’t end just like that. Something in your post reminded me of the movie, “Same Time Next Year”. Stars Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. A sweet movie that always stuck with me. They are both married to other people. Meet while away for a weekend and fall in love. For the next 25 years they secretly meet every year at that same inn. They do this unknown to their spouses and families.

    It’s not a story about FLs but it always made me fantasize about secretly meeting my FL and reconnecting annually.

    Your post made me think maybe you and your FL could meet like the lovers in this movie. Allows for having and eating your cake all at once.

    I’m rambling. Hang in there. Ignore those on this site who stand in judgement. Not for them to judge you or anyone else.

    J.

  10. Complicated says:

    LOML, Di, Shake, Skeptic and J – realistically, I’m sure ill hear from FL, but I’m scared for both of us. We have this amazing love and he has the wife from …I shouldn’t go there. (Trolls, don’t forget I’m a wife, so I don’t need a lecture.)
    I know when my husband cheated on me, I was on high alert. I made him promise to never contact the OW ever again. Difference is, I keep telling myself is 1) he was not in love with these women, 2) he had just met these women. I think we will talk again, but don’t even know how we will ever be able to see each other again as she has major spying skills. I didn’t when I was cheated on, but was on high alert.
    Do y’all think we can ever see each other again? Would he even want to? Need honest answers here. Thank you guys :)

  11. skeptic says:

    Complicated…. Yes, I’m sure he wants to see you again! I didn’t go back to look at your story from the beginning again, but it sounds as if he really isn’t happy with his wife and is just worried about not losing all he has to her. It’s not like they have kids together (isn’t that what you said?) so I’m sure he’ll find a way to get out of his marriage eventually.. but I really think that will happen… until then, who knows? He may be too scared to see you. But hang in there, cause J’s right – love that lasts 45 years doesn’t go away just like that!

    J, I loved that movie Same Time, Next Year.. for some reason I’m picturing Carol Burnett as the woman – it wasn’t her? Been a long time since I saw it, but I know what you mean – I’ve had visions of my FL and me and that movie, too! :-) Once a year would be much better than never!

    Di… I’m in!! Here’s my cyber-hand! I was so thankful to find this place, and I don’t want to lose it! I can’t tell you how good it felt – after 6 years – to be able to tell my story that I’d never told a SOUL!! What a release! Just that first post made me feel so much better.. but it’s great to have found some friendship here – makes the NC much more bearable! And I think we all help each other by just being here!?

    Dazed… I’m with Di.. run, don’t walk to that cottage!! It IS your turn!! Go to the cottage and don’t go back even if he begs you to – wish I could remember a quote I saw and liked.. but it just said something like “when somebody shows you who they are, believe them” The quote sounded much better than that, but you know what I mean! You deserve better!

  12. Di says:

    I found this for Dazed… but Complicated and everyone else here. Really listen to these words. Okay so I am dating myself but Diana Ross is ageless and heck who am I trying to fool… this song may be a bit before my time but I am sure about now we all can relate to the words. Even if you have to close your eyes. Every single word will sink in!!!! It’s worth your time to click. The quality is a little to be desired but I bet for the ones who can relate you will play it more than once.

  13. Di says:

    Not sure what I meant about Diana Ross being before my time… lol… This song was out in 1980… my fl and I had been broken up for 3 years by then and I had my first baby that year. I think I am in denial! lol. But didn’t you guys just feel the words? Some especially could have written every word! YA KNOW?

  14. skeptic says:

    Definitely a perfect song for Complicated! And many others here, too, I’m sure! And don’t worry, Di… I remember Diana Ross with the Supremes very well! “Baby love, my baby love.. been missin ya, miss kissin ya… ” ;-)

  15. skeptic says:

    I meant great song for Dazed.. but Complicated, too.. and many others!

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