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.

8,164 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Complicated says:

    Stronger – in your story, after you and your husband split, who asked you to reconsider. Was it FL or H?

  2. stronger♡ says:

    Complicated,
    My husband did. After he tried dating….he came to me and we had a long talk, He actually called up his daughter and told her in front of me that we were getting back together. FL…never once tried to contact me in all the time my husband and I were apart. I has led me to the thinking that he doesn’t have anymore feelings for me. So I have to accept it.
    I was just listening to some songs that throw me back to FL…

    Luke Bryan-Roller coaster
    Kid Rock-First kiss
    Very good songs as well as nostalgic

  3. Complicated says:

    Stronger – I had to read your post several times.
    FLs daughter is a piece of work. I cannot believe any parent would put their child, especially their young child up to doing their dirty work. I suspect she got into his FB page and got jealous of you.
    Now, after you two reconnected after the daughter thing, you became physical. What was probably a dream come true for him (especially with him being shy and was able to let it all hang out with you, so to speak), you told him this would never happen again and you would never leave your husband, etc. This was after a romantic interlude.
    If FL told me that after a physical, intimate encounter, whether it was true or not, I would be crushed. Once I got over the hurt and detestation, I would retaliate and try to hold onto the little bit of pride I could muster up.
    From your side if the story, he seems to have loved you and wanted to be back in your life. I believe you hurt him once again and he fought back the only way he knew how – hurt you.
    Just my two cents. Tells what you think or did I get it totally wrong?

  4. stronger♡ says:

    Complicated…
    No you didn’t get it wrong. I didn’t even wait to lash back, I retaliated right away…where as I should have at least counted to 10. If I gave ya’ll the impression that he is still shy, no he’s not, he hasn’t been for years. He’s very confident and self assured. Just as I am, life tended to do that to me. Sometimes I think that he didn’t like the grownup I had become vs the shy quiet girl I was back then. I had changed into this self confident woman who is outspoken, tells it like it is…. At one point in our brief time together in that one night, He looked at me and the expression I had on my face said…there she is… there’s the girl I remember! During our harsh word exchange after he decided not to continue our friendship, he said something to the effect of “we can’t live in th past and reminiscence”. He said I was very good at being vindective (sic?) and using deception to get my way…. WTH??? I told him I was never anything BUT honest and open with him! He accused me of all of these ugly traits that are just not me! I don’t purposely set out to hurt anyone! When we made plans to meet, we BOTH agreed that we couldn’t hurt anyone by trying to carry this any further that what it had to be, but we were adamant about staying friends. He had eluded that he had a GF, but the way he decdescribed it was it was just a thing, nothing serious….but it didn’t bother me because I truly believed we were going to stay friends, then almost immediately after, he cut me out cold!
    That’s what hurt the most! All the self doubt….did he really love me or was it all a scam….ect…

  5. skeptic/sketch says:

    Complicated.. Didn’t notice if you said.. but have you seen FL since he confessed to his wife and he “put you in the box” so to speak.. ??? I do remember how devastated you were back then and I felt so bad for you.. I’m glad you finally did pull yourself out of that depression!

    PD.. I loved that song from that movie with Keira Knightly.. I knew it sounded familiar.. saw Adam Levine doing it next on that video… and then I saw that he had performed it on The Voice with the one guy on his team.. I think I saw he’s gonna sing it on The Grammys, too – it’s up for an award! But it says it like we always do – Youth is wasted on the young!!

    Stronger… I kind of agree with Complicated about your FL’s reaction after that night you spent together… Maybe in this instance, HE was the one who couldn’t just have sex casually… or one night only… he wanted more. I know what you mean about not being the person he knew back then, too, though! We change as we get older… I think my FL put me up on a pedestal, too… and after the fact, I told him he didn’t get to remember me that way, cause I wasn’t that girl anymore! Guess we all get feisty as we get older! :-)

  6. Complicated says:

    Yes, we have seen each other twice since then. He insisted on seeing me even when I said, “look, I understand if you cannot see me this time.” W tracks him. We were having lunch and she called him and knew exactly where we were.
    The next time, he had to go through many extreme changes to see me. We saw each other about three times that trip. It was supposed to be four. On one day, he called late after I had waited most of the day for his call (which I shouldn’t have – my bad). I went totally off on him. The next day when he came to see me he was all happy and came early so we could hang out prior to taking me to the airport. I let him have it again. I was crying and told him not to call me again. He said, “I’m not going to stop calling you. You have caller ID and can choose not to answer, but I’m not going to stop calling you.” He was really down about my reaction.
    When I got back home, I tried ignoring his calls a few times and then I started answering. I felt it was mean not to answer, so I did.
    I didn’t want him out of my life.
    You know, way back when we were teenagers (me 19 and him 22), I’m the one who broke it off with him. He recently said he wanted to rescue me back then. I think he has White Knight syndrome.

  7. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Recently I’ve have had an increase in my normal depression. Might be time of year, lack of daylight, but I really don’t think so. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, LL wrote back to me last night and he’s been feeling increased depression too. Like he comes home from work and just sits in front of the woodstove for hours with no tv, no internet, nothing, just listening to the silence. Soooo not like him, he is usually working on 10,000 projects at once. Maybe we are both feeling the futility of our situation and feeling each other’s sadness?

  8. stronger♡ says:

    I really wish we could just go to each person’s name and click on it to be able to re-read everyone’s story, I’m getting so confused.

  9. Bonnie says:

    Wow PleaseGod, sounds like you two really do need each other. How long have you had depression?

  10. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Bonnie,
    Years and years. Started to get really bad after LL and I broke up.

  11. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Yeah, I wish this site had a message board/forum we could post to, would make it easier to keep up with who is who.

  12. Don't Do It says:

    Please God,

    I totally understand feeling each other’s heartache. I think I may have shared before about some kind of mental/emotional connection with my FL that I’ve never had with anyone else.

    I hadn’t seen or talked to him in over 30 years. I would think of him off and on, but it would always pass within an hour. In August of 2013 on a Satirday night, I thought of him and it was so much more intense and heartbreaking than it had ever been. My life seemed exactly the same as it had been for years. I could not understand why I had this sudden, intense longing for him. It lasted a week and ended with me creating a Facebook account for the sole purpose of sending him a friend request.

    When we talked that day, I found out he had just returned from a ten day visit to our hometown (where I still live). On the Saturday night that I first thought of him, he had attended his high school reunion. We went to different high schools but graduated the same year. My reunion was the same night. I did not go. He, however, left his reunion to see if he could find me at mine.

    He was also going through a very difficult time with his girlfriend and was very sad and lonely. I really think I felt his longing for me and his loneliness and that was what caused my overpowering feelings that entire week.

    We corresponded occasionally the next six months. Off and on no contacts and short in contact periods. His girlfriend also lives in my town and he came to town occasionally during those six months to see her. He never told me he was in town but I would occasionally be hit with that same intense longing I felt that week in August. I was writing a journal to try to sort my feelings for him out and I would note those crazy feelings. When FL and I became closer and finally saw each other, he told me he had been in town three or four times in those six months. When we compared notes, they coincided exactly with those crazy feelings I had

    There have been many other incidents like that but the last one really reminds me of your depression mixing with your FL’s. We were (and still are) going through a rough patch. We had made arrangements to meet at a hotel the end of December. He called that off and we were both struggling to figure out what our future would be. We had been texting three or four times a day and we abruptly stopped. We just didn’t really have anything else to say to each other at that point. I was devastated and hurt but had settled into numbness after the first week.

    One night out of the blue the pain became almost 100 times worse. It was crushing. I went to sleep crying. The next day, I saw an email from him. It was just a one line, joking comment. It was sent within the same hour that I became overcome by the loss of him. I’m positive I was feeling his pain as well as mine that night. Maybe he was feeling mine and his email was meant as reassurance that we were going to be fine.

    I’ve never felt anything like this with anyone else and don’t really remember feeling this way with him when we were teenagers but it’s real and weird and scary.

    Stronger,

    I agree it’s so hard to keep track of all the stories.

  13. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Don’t Do It,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is good to know I’m not the only one going through this and that I’m not crazy (well, not totally crazy lol).

    It is scary but amazing and wonderful too, to have this connection with someone. You wrote:
    “One night out of the blue the pain became almost 100 times worse. It was crushing. I went to sleep crying. The next day, I saw an email from him. It was just a one line, joking comment. It was sent within the same hour that I became overcome by the loss of him.”

    Yesterday I started to feel really angry at LL for not writing to me. While waiting in the truck when my H was in Lowes, I started going off at LL in my head about it, like I was talking directly to him. Thoughts included how I felt like I wasn’t worth the investment of his time because he’s not getting sex from me and other angry thoughts. Well when I checked FB this morning, LL had sent me two messages shortly before that. Maybe he had been sensing my anger at his pulling away?

    Reminds me of a time when we were in college and dating. He and I walked into his dorm together and a friend of my ex boyfriend saw us and went running down the hall to my ex boyfriend’s room to tell him. That totally pissed me off because I know they didn’t like LL and were probably gossiping about me being with LL. I was ranting and raving about those guys being jerks the rest of the way to LL’s room. LL and I were going to go to the dining hall together for supper and right in the middle of my rant he said, “Why don’t you go home…” That really pissed me off and I stormed out of the room. Later that night I called LL and asked why he wanted me to leave. He said I didn’t let him finish his sentence before I got angry at him and left. He was going to say, “Why don’t you go home (to my dorm) and change into something nice and I’ll take you out to dinner so we don’t have to be around those jerks in the dining hall.” Me jumping to conclusions and then reacting. That happened a lot back when I was younger, and I thought I had matured past that for the most part, but where LL is concerned, I become that young girl all over again.

  14. stronger♡ says:

    Oh God…..
    That so totally sounds like me, the jumping to conclusions and over thinking things.
    There is a series of books total of 3 that I am in the middle of reading.
    The first one is “Searching for Moore” by
    Julie A Richman
    It follows a couple over years they met in college and then was separated and then finally found their way back to each other.
    I think ya’ll might really like the books…the author goes back and forth in each of the couples minds and lives
    And yes, Facebook played it’s part in them reconnecting with each other!

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