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.

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13,364 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Michelle says:

    JANA: yes Maam i have it covered myselp i check it everyday no communication after he talk to her . nothing after that. you are right i need somebody to talk to… ita very hard no days i dont think of her everyday in over 1 year since they start being friends . he told me if they talk or text . my problem is me i never had a man in my life but him never had a bf because i was fucos on my studies and i graduated college never had a man in my whole life but him and i never sleep with him till day we got married and im the only woman he ever respected for that. so this is my first jealousy. lord so hard im about go crazy. worrying over nothing. thank you JANA make me feels better here i can talk …

  2. Anonymous says:

    Michelle, you have created so many comments but I personally can’t read your story, I don’t understand a word you are trying to say, sorry

  3. Michelle says:

    Anonymous: im sorry … some of them trying understand me and they understood i quess

  4. Curt says:

    I have to agree that it been difficult to understand her posts. I thought at first it was due to the ESL factor, but in rereading, they appear almost deliberatly written in a confusing and repetive style . All I was able to understand is that she is very jealous over her husbands friendship with his FL, and she has become quite paranoid and suspicious . She has followed him and checked his phone records. I think that summarizes it up.

  5. Lost in translation says:

    I agree these posts are very hard to read. I gave up after the first one. I think Curt’s summation is accurate.

    Dr. Rob Edit: let’s move on from the ease/difficulties of the previous posts…

  6. Age of Inno-sense says:

    Hot Mess,

    I disagree about the age of people on this board. I have been here a long time (years) and the majority of people on this board are about 20 years older than you are. Most late 40’s and 50’s and beyond.

  7. Michelle says:

    Wifey: will you email me blue_teddybears@yahoo.com and i will email you back and give you my number… i can talk to you … if you dont mind bacause your situation is kinda closed to mind. thank you…

  8. Trevor says:

    Michelle
    Aren’t you afraid your husband will notice the emails? I can’t imagine he would be happy to realize how little you trust him and that you’re doing things such as following him to the store.

  9. Michelle says:

    trevor:

    i know…last night i mention her name and we talk and i started over again and he told me he change for me and dont like to hide thing and he should not told me about it we wouldnt have a problem . and next time he wont tell me anymore so i wont me thinking the way i think.and now im worry…do you think he will do crazy like affair for her because the way i think?he think i dont trust him and anyway he dont like email and do computer. thank you sir

  10. Hot Mess Nest says:

    @Age of Inno-sense That’s what I said, wasn’t it? It’s what I was thinking, anyhow, that most people on this board seem to be a bit older than I am. Just a miscommunication.

    While I’m here… no significant news from me, just staying the course.

  11. Have Faith says:

    Age of inno-sense, I’ve never noticed your name on the board before and I have been posting here since 2014. I would agree that most of the people here seem to be in their late forties and older.

    Michelle, I couldn’t really understand what you were asking, but if you don’t trust him, that’s a pretty significant problem, and I don’t think the problem has anything to do with your husbands FL. If there is no trust, there really is no relationship. Jealousy and insecurity will destroy your marriage. There is no way anyone else can tell you if your husband will cheat or what he’s thinking, etc. This is something you need to work thru in therapy or marriage counseling .

  12. Ira says:

    Hi y’all. I found this site because, after I got in touch with my first love, I started having feelings for her again. We hadn’t seen each other for about 40 years and then she sent me a request on facebook last year. I think part of this is reliving my youth and sharing those old memories with her. We are both married. I’m not sure if my first love feels the same way I do, we haven’t discussed that, but I suspect she might be feeling it too. It’s hard to know if I should end the friendship, or maybe the feelings will pass?

  13. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Michelle, although you addressed your last post to Trevor I feel compelled to offer the following observations:

    The relationship your husband has is not appropriate given their past, the frequency of contact, and the immersion of your spouse in the day to day needs of the former love.

    Even though you have expressed your discomfort with this relationship, your husband has disregarded your feelings.

    While his attempt at transparency with you is admirable on the surface, the fact he is willing to continue being at her beck and call and stating he will merely just hide it from you is a major red flag.

    Clearly he is getting something from this relationship he is unwilling to sacrifice, your feelings and wishes be damned.

    You need to see or talk to an objective 3rd party.

  14. Out of my flippin bird says:

    @Michelle, none of us can tell you as to whether or not he’ll have an affair. If he thinks you dont trust him, hes right you dont. Not to be rude, but youre letting this consume you, and if it continues it’ll eat you alive.

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