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.

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13,228 Responses to “Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net”

  1. Anon says:

    Princess
    Playing games with people isn’t fair to anyone. If you want to go no contact, then tell him goodbye. Don’t leave him hanging. Be honest and tell him the truth.

    You say you need to take care of your end a little more? If you are trying to figure out what is wrong in your marriage it’s probably best to concentrate on that first, but be honest with your FL and tell him that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes goodbye would be the kindest thing to do. I’m currently in yet another period of no contact, how long will this one last for? He made it obvious he wasn’t going to encourage me to talk and I took the hint and will not bother him anymore. I feel so sad and cross with him but also know what he is doing is for the best. I’m sure he thinks of me still. Who knows?

  3. Kidding Yourself says:

    Princess,

    You are kidding yourself if you think you can go away and not contact him. It’s impossible unless your head and heart are in the right place. I don’t believe yours are. The boundaries you set up will fail too because these relationships aren’t like any other.

    When you get to a place where you know it will never go away no matter how hard you to try to make, or where you know that no contact is futile so you just deal with it in the day to day, then things settle down. Initial contact re-ignites a fire that is hard to extinguish. You have to let it burn for a while before it dies down some but just know you have re-lit that eternal flame. It will always be there now. Accept it and you’ll be better off than trying to remove yourself to play those old games. You should be more mature now and acceptance of what is, is how to proceed to get through this.

  4. Princess says:

    I’ve told him goodbye so many times. I’ve told him how I feel and the depth of those feelings. I have already figured out in my marriage and what is wrong and we’ve separated before and I am going to go down that road again. A family situation came up that needs to be dealt with for approximately the next 3 months and then I’ll feel better about starting the convo with my H.
    Years ago my H and I had a convo about if either was unhappy we’d want them to leave and when I did last time he was not that ok with it. I moved back quickly to leave the right way in the future–with a temporary order for support.
    Here’s my thinking. My LL is so afraid to mess up my life. He broke up with me and I can tell it’s caused him huge guilt. He’s not married and I don’t want him to think that I am doing this for him. In fact I want to do it on my own. So I figured I could focus on that part of things for awhile. I’d love to have him to talk to but he might freak out? I’ll think about it. I’m not trying to play games. Just a consideration.

  5. Anon says:

    I suggest you be honest with your FL. If you are communicating with him then tell him you’ve left your marriage. Don’t play games or ignore his messages.

    I have to question if there is a right or wrong way to leave someone. Granted, lying to someone and sneaking out without explanation is generally wrong; even that scenario can be necessary if there is physical abuse or threats of it. Perhaps your need to do things the “right” way is really a sign that youre ambivalent about leaving him.

  6. Truth be told says:

    I am an advocate for transparency in relationships. Truth is harder than lies but it should be necessary out of respect for each other. Even if you hate your spouse, you are doing no favors by lying.

    Be honest, speak the words and then work through the challenges involved with it.

  7. princess says:

    Well last night I had a dream. I found LL a perfect gift — I don’t know what it was but I needed to make sure it would fit into a post office box so I was trying to make it compact. Well H came walking up and I scrambled to hide it and the card fell on the ground. H picked it up and the writing on the front made it obvious it was for someone else. I was very aware that my H was upset. He refused to talk to me, he was not sad, he was angry and of course hurt. He would not talk and I was devastated. I became aware in my dream that it was a dream and in a few hours I would wake up and everything would be okay. In fact in the dream I sat on the bed and closed my eyes so it would go away. How is that for a sign? I have not emailed LL since Monday. Our last interaction was fine and I responded to him but he didn’t respond back. Typically I would email him again but I won’t. I think last night was a pretty good indicator of where my heart is right now.
    It won’t be easy and in a few days/weeks I’ll have the longing again but right now I feel pretty strong. Family health issues happening so priorities have shifted.

  8. wifey says:

    the right way would be to wait till both of you were free to persue each other . If you are not happy divorce first then wait and see where you are at with your feeling for persueing your first love. Until you do this the lost love you are persueing has every right to be circumspect of your intentions knowing that feelings never really go away . You’ve got to think that there is nothing honest or honorable in the way you are going about things if indeed you do this while you are or know the other person is STILL MARRIED

  9. Princess says:

    I understand that. I contacted him when separated and he is not married. I moved back with my husband for other reasons. This is a public forum so I can’t say too much. I never stopped contact with FL. When seperated my H didn’t want to work on things because I hurt his feelings and wasn’t providing support I needed and we couldn’t afford to get a legal separation with two households. I was having to spend a lot of time at the house when seperated and realized I can do this a little longer and so I moved home. FL is in a long term Relationship with financial obligations. It is what it is.
    He did not respond to my last response email. I am journaling my feelings. I really am trying to do what I need to do. Marriage is not some special thing– I would’ve left years ago if it weren’t for my son.inwont wait until graduation — maybe in a year it’ll be an easier time. Time will tell. He saw what we looked like seperated and know we are respectful to each other and he will be the priority. Then there are times like above where I have a dream and think maybe I’m supposed to be with H.

  10. Anon says:

    Wife
    I asked if there was a right or wrong way to leave someone. If your comment was in reply to that then I don’t really understand it .

    I don’t advocate for having an affair. I certainly don’t think someone should have an affair to ‘test’ how they feel about their LL or whoever. I think if are unhappy in your marriage then you need to fix that. If that means leaving because there is no way to be happy in your marriage, then leave, don’t stay and suffer.

    I don’t think it means you need to cut off all communication with your LL while you are still married though. Telling someone they shouldnt speak to their LL at all while they are married is a little severe. Talking isn’t an affair.

    Feelings never go away? That’s not true, judging from the divorce rate… lol.

  11. Carla says:

    I had a hell of a weekend and beginning of the week. Obsession hit me again while naively I was living what I thought to be a stage of acceptance. I got this application named truthfinder and started to play with it, and of course, I got to search for “him”. After I was done with it, a wave of feelings, anger, disatisfaction, sadness, madness, unhappiness hit me and has not left me since. I was thinking of getting therapy but I am a professional also and know what’s coming, things such as: work on your marriage, get busy, occupy your mind with other interests, take a class, get a hobby, and so on. It might be of help to someone else, but I am beyond that. I have gone to mournings before and they seem to take their own course, this one is the hardest of all. I can’t wait to reclaim my life. This is to sad and out of control. The worse mistake I ever made, contacting him after 30 years.

  12. It is what it isnt says:

    I wonder if Dr. Rob is aware why this particular forum has so many posts and visits compared to the other forums. His other first love forum hasn’t had a post since July! Of course he may find out one day what the reason is for the high number of site visits, and also how those numbers are linked to the reason he has to moderate the posts now.

    Posting here has been a real Up and Down learning experience, in so many ways.

  13. PleaseGodCanIBeWithLL says:

    Carla,
    Just wanted to say you are not alone. I go through periods where I think I’m okay without LL in my life (granted I still have daily thoughts of him in these periods, but I don’t dwell on them). Then suddenly boom, the longing and missing him hits again. I am actually getting used to those feelings and accepting them. Fighting them doesn’t work. I’m learning to let them be there without acting on them.

  14. annoymous says:

    I have to write about this and get it off my chest, first love sucks and just finding mine after 30 years hurts more knowing the truth that I wanted to hear, I still love that person awefully, lol and don’t understand why they came back and now had to let them go because of different life and iam heartbroken. will this pain go away? I miss talking to them on the phone. if someone comes back to you especially through fb don’t hit that button unless you know for sure. and finding out they will always love you is even worse, so if you have a chance to be with your first love don’t let them go. that love is so powerful it never dies.

  15. Carla says:

    I got an episode really, really bad this morning and remembered what you said about not fighting those feeling. Thank you and everyone for your opinions and sharing how you handle these nightmares. Yesterday, I found myself even begging my superior power to let me be with my LL no matter what, at no cost, I just wanted to feel what it is to feel loved and wanted by him. I am so desperate that don’t even care how unrealistic I sound. I am not going to fight my episodes no matter how bad they are thou. I can survive them anyways. (I hope)

  16. Do Over FLAD says:

    Last night I was contacted by someone from this page that accused me of being party to bullying and doing illegal things by posing as other people to harass her.
    I was on this site a long time ago. I met a lot of people on here and I was the one that set up the community Facebook page where some of us went to meet.
    I became friends with quite a few of the former posters on this site. 4 of us (Tess, Up & Down and another woman.. forgive me but I can’t recall her posting name) became close and we formed a chat group.
    Over time, I came to realize that my time spent there, lamenting and crying about my FL over and over, was time spent away from my kids and family.
    One day, I commented about all of us being lied to by our FL’s and the response back was that I was the only lied to, none of the others had been lied to. So, I realized that it was time to go. That was my sign that it was time to go.
    I exited, left without a word or explanation, blocked the contacts and was gone.
    Some time ago, I got a message from someone here telling me someone was using my name to post on here. I blocked her and didn’t respond. I have built a great life with my kids and my life with my FL has become secondary or even third or 4th to what I have going on in my life. It is not a focus but just a piece of my life.
    While I still have a place in my heart for the 3 women I met on here, I made a good decision to leave for my own peace and well being and would truly hope that they would respect that and understand.
    Last night I received a FB message from someone else on here accusing me of being a part of harassment and bullying. I have not and did not participate in that and while I don’t think my 3 friends did either, I was told they threw me under the bus and told this person I was crazy and the one harassing her.
    If that is true, thank you so much for doing so. I would hope you didn’t go down that path because I chose to step away and live my life.
    Whatever happened with my FL is on here for others to read and the friendships I made here helped me through a very hard time and I’m still grateful but me harassing and bullying anyone is a lie. I don’t have time or the inclination to make someone else’s life here miserable. I am a mom trying to live my life and raise good kids. That’s my goal now.
    Good luck to you all and please don’t use me as a scapegoat to accuse.

  17. Have Faith says:

    I know Dr. Rob has not permitted discussion on any drama that occurred on the now defunct facebook group, but if I hope he will Allie me to post this.

    I think it’s very easy to use someone as a scapegoat when they are no longer available or able to defend themselves. This a common tactic used by abusers. Luckily I saved all the old facebook posts/messages which accused Do Over of harassing me. I knew at the time those were lies, and that made me question the reasons why this small group of ladies would accuse her of this.

    Since the accusations they made seemed rather far-fetched (for example that there were detailed information folders comailed on all FB group members) that I realized these were intimidation tactics being used to scare me.

    To date, the harassment continues in various ways. I have evidence which supports a definite link to a few former posters of this forum. (Not Do Over)

    I write this as a warning to pay attention to those we meet online…it’s very difficult to assess someone’s real personality from their online personality.

  18. Eyes opened says:

    At the front of this log of comments someone mentions limerance. I have been researching this for a long long time and this never came up.
    Specifically this:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerence

    It is fascinating and this is what is happening and apparently it can be stopped or lessened.
    I am feeling pretty ridiculous today because I feel I imagined it all with my first love. Maybe we are just found first loves and I have a tendency towards limerence? My therapist has said my FL is stringing me along. Today I told him I needed to stop and he said ‘always a friend’ well that’s the hook. It’s the statement that gives me permission to reach out again. Today I rejected his friendship and reminded him we are first loves and nothing less. But it meets criteria of unreciprocated limerance and the torture comes from being unreciprocated or constantly wondering.

    **READ ABOUT LIMERENCE if you are stuck

  19. Anon says:

    I would hope most of us are at an age that we are able to distinguish between limerence and true feelings, especially as we all have gone through teenage crushes and marriages and failed relationships.

    I think love is hard to define, and there is always some sort of limerence or infatuation at the beginning of the relationship.

  20. Down the Rabbit Hole says:

    Happy endings do happen. I just met a woman who broke up with her high school sweetheart more than 40 years ago. They lived separate lives for 20 years, reuniting after she came across his name on a book he authored. She obtained his email from another attendee who knew him. After contacting him, they began dating. A few months later they married and have been together more than 20 years.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Down the Rabbit Hole – that’s lovely to hear and I think that’s what most of us on here want to hear. We don’t want to hear about bullies and nasty people. I’d love to hear from some men and their first love stories and if they have ever been tempted to reach out to their first loves even if happily married and what happened next.

  22. Eyes opened says:

    I don’t think she or maturity matter I regards to limerance. It tends towards those with attachment issues. The difference is if they are reciprocated or not and gives time frames for these limerant for relationships to work – 4 years.
    Interesting. Worth the research.

  23. Anonymous says:

    @do over, I am so happy that you have found a little peace and happiness. I will admit when you left there was confusion and if I said or did anything to offend you, I apologize. I do miss our conversations and your wisdom.

    @have faith. I thought long and hard about if I was even going to respond to your accusations. I haven’t been on this site for a very long time and on a whim this morning I looked in to see this. In the Facebook group, we tried to talk to you and be the voice of reason and you didn’t want to listen to us. You wanted to believe what you believe and that is your right. When you admitted here, on this website along with letting us know in the Facebook group, that you had been hacked, we made the choice to remove you from the group as we didn’t want to be put at any sort of risk. I have not thought about or contacted you since. The next time I even heard from or thought about you was when you contacted me, through messenger with your accusations and YOU made the choice to call me rude, crude and vulgar names. I chose not to engage, I blocked you.
    I have only one piece of advice for anyone that is being harassed and bullied. If they are contacting by email, change your email, if they are calling you, change your phone #, if they are contacting you through public websites, stop going there, lock down your social media…..Don’t engage, ignore. If you have proof, go to the authorities, that is what they are there for. I can promise you this. NO ONE from the Facebook group was involved.

    Take your power back, they don’t have power unless you choose to give them the power. Don’t engage!

  24. Have Faith says:

    I notice you don’t comment on my accusations that some FB group members used Do Over as a scapegoat to explain the harassment I was experiencing, anonymous. As I mention, I have proof that you did just that, as i saved all those posts. I understand that by telling me that she had become extremely mentally unstable (clearly a lie on your part) and by telling me she had kept detailed information files on group members that you were trying to scare and intimidate me.

    I know I didn’t appreciate being lied to, as I’m sure Do Over did not appreciate being lied about. A group of normal, reasonable people does NOT make up lies about someone just because that person chose to leave a chat group. Sorry, but it’s just not a reasonable explanation.

    The names I called you Anonymous pale so much in comparison to what that has been done to me over the last couple of years.

    I am well aware of how to how to disengage , anonymous, (and how do you know if I haven’t already taken those steps, lol) but unfortunately this does not prevent harassers from harassing in different ways, which i will not explain here.

    I do find it difficult to believe, anonymous, that you had a sudden inclination to check this forum for the first time in many months as soon as a post concerning you was posted.

  25. Have Faith says:

    BTW, Anonymous, promises mean nothing when they come from a liar.

  26. Another anon says:

    Libel and defamation are civil matters- there is no point in going to the so-called authorities about it, you need to obtain a lawyer on your own.

    Bullying can be a criminal offence; however unless the bullys are very careless, it’s almost impossible to prove. Unless there are definite threats made in your name, the police won’t get involved.

    Unfortunately the internet is a wonderful place for bullys and malicious people to wreak havoc and get away with it.

  27. Carla says:

    I was very intrigued by the comment about limerence and the effects it causes on people. I am more inclined to believe that what I feel for FL is no longer love per se, but the syndrome they describe as limerence. In my case, I am definitely not reciprocated, I have experienced humiliated disappointment and a roller coaster obsession as a result. I definitely regret ever contacting him to begin with, I blame myself and nobody else. He has his own life which apparently is a happy one and I don’t. Simple as that. I hate him sometimes and I love him at times. I remember our moments together and aim for them. I do not have those feelings at home and I think I never will. That is my reality.u

  28. Still Dreaming says:

    The recent comments on bullying and harassment piqued my interest because I’ve recently dealt with a similar situation. Truthfully; I myself was not the target of the harassment, but rather a good friend suffered through this and she enlisted my help in the matter.

    Due to my friends experience with this, I ended up reading a number of articles pertaining to group harassment and gang stalking. Before my friends experience I would never have believed this type of thing actually happens, now I’m quite sure it does.

    It’s interesting to note that my friend’s experience also began with a reconnection to a past lover, a reconnection which resulted in an affair.

    My observations of the comments posted here a few days earlier is this:
    Unless the person posting as Have Faith is lying, the actions taken by the other FB members appear very “fishy”. It makes no sense (at least to ME ) to accuse a former group member of harassing her. Surely this shows malicious intent. I know if I had experienced some type of harassment, and then I was told, by people claiming to be my friends, that the harassment could be attributed to a mentally unstable person who had collected information on me, I would be alarmed.

    These are just my personal observations. Perhaps those who behaved the way these people did, had some type of reason for doing so that is not immediately apparent to us readers.

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