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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13,112 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Uh oh says:

    I’m having a hard time with this. You saw each other for the first time across the room (in school no less) ….and as soon as you got within reach of each other you grabbed the other and began kissing passionately? Wow.

  2. EYES ROLLING says:

    JOHN

    So are you stuck wanting to be with her and her with you but only distance is keeping you apart?

    You are both single and yet one or both refuse to make a change for the sake of your love for each other.

    Change is inevitable and we are stuck in the mud if we can’t lift out feet out for something so important.

    The description of your lovemaking could have been left out of your tale. Why do we need to know you have a flat stomach? Too much information and too funny.

    Anyway, you must be torn by the connection or you wouldn’t be here but I am wondering if she doesn’t want a long distance relationship, then why do you want one and if you reached new consciousness, isn’t that enough to warrant a move? Nothing would stop me.

  3. Have Faith says:

    I’m not sure if my eyes are rolling or if my stomach is turning (hope I don’t get censored for that) but I agree – that was far too much info!

    Considering that she isn’t that interested in continuing your relationship, perhaps her version of events varies slightly. Sometimes, it seems, we can be presented with alternative facts in a situation.

    John, I’m not sure if your post was meant as a joke or if you are a real person…but most people don’t include details like weight and height in these types stories, so I am skeptical.

  4. For you a thousand times over says:

    Have Faith..

    ” Alternative facts” lol..that phrase has now taken a life of its own. Thank you for the laugh..I was really having a difficult time with the reality of that post and what does any of that have to do with this site. All that was, was a hook up – ; The whole post was in poor taste, real or not.

  5. Have Faith says:

    For you 1000 times

    I learned about ‘alternative facts’ long ago…but I didn’t call them by that name then. Lol
    I think many people who are married to spouses who regularly lie and gaslight have always known about alternative facts, or as my ex used to put it “it’s not a lie if it’s my perception” and ” if I can’t remember that event and you can, then you must be making it up”. There’s always some kind of spin they can put on it.

    I think you are right about the reality of John’s post…I am a person who will give most people the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t imagine why someone would post the kind of information that he did. I think it’s probably a joke, perhaps just done to encourage others to post. If so, it did work.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Maybe that’s what it’s like for most men when they ‘hook up’ with an ex, the promise of sex with an ex, what man wouldn’t fancy a bit of that? They can have the best of both worlds. Maybe it’s just women who invest too much emotionally in these dramas, desperately wanting a fairy tale romance.

  7. True Love says:

    I sometimes think men are more romantic than women, so I dont know about that theory, anonymous. I’m a woman by the way. I remember reading one of the articles by Dr. Kalish that said, in general, men have a more difficult time than women in getting over a lost love relationship. I don’t think men are less romantic or less emotional than women, but I think they have been conditioned by society to hide those feelings.

  8. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    My first love was emotionally devastated when we broke up, the depth of which I didn’t fully appreciate until our reconnection. I knew, to some level, he took it very hard, but in my naivety I thought it was fleeting. It wasn’t. So I agree with those who say men can be as emotional or more so than some women. Oh how I wish I had fully appreciated how sensitive and caring he was. Now I get it. Too late.

    I thought John’s post read like a romance novel. Perhaps that was his or her’s point, that we are somehow hopeless romantics living outside of reality. Hard to say unless he or she cares to comment further.

  9. Just Once says:

    I haven’t posted here in quite a while, but I wanted to come back and post a little story and a song that I believe a lot of you will really like. I don’t know if any of you remember me, but I do see a few familiar names here. I first posted here on August 29, 2014, desperately looking for others who felt the same way I did – hopelessly in love with my long lost first love. We met in high school and were together for almost three years, we split up and we both moved on – relationships, marriages, kids, and divorce, and through all that time, I never forgot her, not for a minute. At the time of my first post, it had been 28 years since she had left me, and I was still in love with her as much as I had been the day she left me.

    After posting here, many people warned me not to do it, not to reach out to her as it would only lead to more problems and heart break, but at the urging of one poster here, I did it. I sent her a message through LinkedIn, and she responded almost immediately. After a few weeks of messages, texts and finally a phone call, we met for coffee on July 11, 2015, and we fell right back in love all over again. She pulled up next to my car and smiled at me through her car window, and I knew. We got out of our cars and she hugged me so tight I almost fell over. I couldn’t believe it was really her! I fell completely in love with her again right then and there. Today makes exactly 19 months since that coffee meet, and it’s been the best 19 months of my life. We live together now, and are planning to be married in the next year or so.

    I didn’t come here to brag about this, but to share my story and let others know that the feelings you have for your FL’s are NOT false or wrong, it’s love, plain and simple. I am so glad that I reached out to her, and all of you should to. That’s certainly not to say that your story will turn out like ours has, but it’s better to regret something you did than something you never tried.

    On another note, before reaching out to her, I had always searched for a song that perfectly summed up my feelings for her, and could never quite find the right one, until now. I wish I had heard this song before we had reunited, because it says everything I would have said to her at any point in the 28 years we were apart. It’s “This Town” by Niall Horan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic1l36GrNOU). I wanted to share it here for those of you who may not have heard it yet. If you find this song as perfect as I did, then sent it to your FL and let them know how you feel. Let them know that if the whole world were watching, you’d still dance with them. Let them know they still make you nervous, that they still give you butterflies. That it all comes back to them. Let them know you love them. It IS possible. Tell them, before it’s too late.

    Good luck to you all.

    – Just Once

  10. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Just Once: I am over the moon happy for you! I wish my FL could read your post. This was great timing as I have been sad lately thinking of all the time we continue to lose not being together. Gives me renewed hope. 🙂

  11. For you a thousand times over says:

    Just Once..

    How lucky are you to have had this go right for both of you, it truly makes me happy to hear your story. Right place right time for both of you!
    I’ve been listening to that song for a few months, it sends tears down my cheeks every time I hear it. It happened again this afternoon. Unfortunately I was on a date with this really sweet guy and we were just talking and having coffee. I am finally forcing myself to go out and try to date…well that song was bad timing and i tried to drown out the song,but no luck. I was so embarrassed I mumbled something stupid and changed the subject…
    It’s so difficult to try and move on when you know there is only one person your heart belongs to…but I have to keep on trying. Maybe there’s someone out there that can help lessen the pain of never having what was once yours ever again.
    Thank you for your story, it was beautuful!

  12. Have Faith says:

    Just once,
    It’s nice to hear a success story here. Congratulations! I went back and read your initial post in Aug. 2014, and I thought you said you were still married at that time. Did you separate from your wife before or after meeting with your FL? Do you think your FL played a part in the separation, or were there existing problems in the marriage? I hope you don’t mind me asking, I’m always curious about how this FL connection has affected other people’s lives.

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