“Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net” Revisited

When you use WordPress to power your website, there is a feature which allows you to see search terms people have used to find your site. When people aren’t using the word “shrink” in a different context (e.g., “will my penis shrink if I have too much sex?”), I’m often found by name and the topic of a certain article or post I’ve written. Other times, they use my name and creative phrasing, such as “Dr. Rob is a narcissist,” or “Rob Dobrenski bad writer and shrink.” Most recently, three people used the phrase “Rob Dobrenski, gay.” Why they included a comma in the search is unclear at this time.

With this in mind, there has been of pattern of search terms related to a post I wrote a few months back, “Reuniting with Your First Love…on the Net.” To wit:

Is reuniting with first loves dangerous
Should I reconnect with a lover from years ago
Saw my first for the first time in years
Meeting lost love after 35 years because of Facebook
Leaving husband for first love
Imprint of first love
“First love” attachment
Reuniting Love
Talking to my First Love on Facebook

Clearly this phenomenon is impacting many people’s lives. And in addition to the hits on the article, I actually get a fair amount of emails asking for flat-out advice on whether or not a person should leave a marriage for a former love. It’s flattering to think that someone might consider my opinion on a life-altering decision, but this is problematic. Not because I don’t want to help, but because I simply don’t know the answer.

If you want to be able to consider/discuss this topic intelligently, the most important point to remember is that no one knows the answer (I’m looking at you, people who have emailed me with “the answer”). The people who have this delusional hubris of “I know what to do!” are the extremists: the hardcore anti-divorce groups – or, to a lesser degree, those who think everyone simply suffers from the “grass is always greener” phenomenon – and those who believe that everyone should just “follow their hearts,” regardless of the consequences. For everyone else, it’s an extremely complicated and nuanced decision that can take months or perhaps years to decide. Children, finances, realistic/unrealistic expectations for the current relationship/possible new one, and impact on family/friends are just a few of the factors that people need to consider. Those who say otherwise are simply proselytizing and oversimplifying the problem. If you “know” the answer, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re not working with a complete understanding of how psychology works.

In many ways my original post on the topic is inadequate. It doesn’t give any real answers because the choice will vary from person to person. And like most, I’d love to have instant gratification, that ability to take a complex problem, crunch the numbers and pop out an answer that can be bottled for everyone’s consumption. Unfortunately, that’s not happening, and that inability to say “just do this…” is an extremely difficult aspect of my job to swallow.

If you’re one of the people who are looking for help with this problem, seek out people you can trust to give you guidance and balanced perceptions. Don’t struggle through this decision alone. And if you’re on the listening end of this conversation, do just that: listen. Save your knowledge and opinions until they are solicited. 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.

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66 Responses to ““Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net” Revisited”

  1. BB says:

    I reconnected with my LL eight months ago. We met when we were 11 but my family moved away and they didn’t approve of him so we had to keep our relationship under the radar. It was too hard. The distance, my parents. Too many obstacles. He went away to the military and we lost contact, but I have loved him all my life. Never forgot him. We reconnected once before…about 10 years later. He was married with a small child then and I was single. He wanted to leave and move to where I was living and I wanted him so badly, but I ended the contact and let him go because I didn’t want to break up his family. Fast-forward 9 more years. I am in a LTR with my partner for the last 9 years, we have a young child. I looked him up on FB and saw that my LL was divorced. I sent him a message. I knew what I was doing when I sent that FB message. I knew he would still be in love with me and I knew I was still in love with him. We started an affair. I love him–he loves me. Nothing has changed. He wanted to get married. I wanted that too, but I was on the fence. I felt like I owed it to my partner and child to at least try to fix my relationship. My LL grew impatient waiting for me to end my relationship and he ended it with me about a month ago. I know it’s for the best and it gives me some time to sort our my true feelings without the pressure of my LL waiting for me. My partner knows about the affair and we’re in counseling but I don’t feel like it’s helping. I constantly, obsessively think of my LL and I can’t seem to reconnect in any meaningful way with my partner. I feel like I’m cheating on my LL. That he (LL) is my primary relationship and that my partner is the affair. Twisted! I know.

  2. Don't Do It says:

    BB I understand the LL seeming like the primary relationship. I was with my FL for one summer 34 years ago, I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in 31 years until last summer. I’ve been married to my husband for 30 years. Yet, somehow it seems as if I belong to my first love, not my husband. It is the most confusing feeling in all of this.

    How can the memory of a boy I loved for three months all those years ago seem more important than the reality of the man who has stuck by my side through thick and thin for over 30 years?

    It has to be some kind of temporary insanity (I hope it’s temporary). I just have to ignore the feeling, tell myself it can’t be real, and distance myself from any contact with my FL.

  3. K says:

    I know exactly what u are going through, when u have these strong feelings it’s etched in your brain and there’s no getting rid of it no matter how hard u tell yourself to get over it! I know your exact pain I’m feeling the same and I don’t know how to handle it or get past it… They say its a bond that u formed a bond when your young, like a bond a child has with their own mother. Sounds strange but I can see the simulatities. It’s like replacing someone close in your family but u know u only feel connected to one person and u can’t place those connections to another person that u have formed the original bond with.

  4. Don't Do It says:

    K, yes, exactly. I tried to explain the way it felt to my FL. He was a little put off when I told him it reminded me of feelings that I have for my cousins. Those people who I shared my childhood with who will always be part of who I am. They helped form who I am. I can go years without talking to them and yet the minute I do reconnect with them we are the same kids we used to be.

    The FL is all of that innocence of my childhood along with the awakening of my sexuality. The first person who really valued me as a woman. I’m not sure if the biggest draw is remembering how much I loved him or how much he loved me.

    It really does help to talk to all of you about it. I really have felt like I was crazy and alone in all of this. Today I’m feeling I can resist the temptation to contact him as long as I can talk about it.

  5. K says:

    Mine fl told me that some day we might be able to see each other again. Don’t know what that really means, u can’t hold on to false hopes, but I told him back in an email that yeah we don’t know what the future holds. Sometimes u wish life had a crystal ball to see what lays ahead!!

  6. Don't Do It says:

    You don’t know what the future holds but in my experience if either of you are married it will only make it worse if you see each other.

    I saw my FL a couple of weeks ago for the first time since we were teenagers. He was in town and called to see if he could stop by my office and see me. I was ecstatic. What could happen at my office with dozens of people around? A lot….. the emotions of one hug were overwhelming to both of us. Everything about him was so familiar. We met two more times while he was in town. Kissed, held hands, hugged. All more than my conscience can handle now. That’s when I knew we could never be “friends”.

    It has to end right there. Any further contact can no longer be classified as curiosity or a “mistake”. I know what I’m dealing with now and am totally 100% responsible for whatever actions I take. Hind sight is 20/20 but if you can find the strength to STOP right now, it will be a lot easier than after you see him.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I understand what u are going through, we have been emailing back and forth for about nine months, no other contact, we know it would be a huge explosion if we did see each other! So yeah like a lion tasting blood, once it’s done its hard to go back!

  8. Elle says:

    There was this guy named Jimmy that lived a few houses down from me and I went to school with him and everything, all kids would go down to the bus stop and talk and wait for the bus and he would be there. I really liked him even though I was extremely shy and allegric to people expectally boys, I was a bullied victim and had always hid behind my hair. So many boys didn’t really go for me, or like me, I was just the nice quiet girl that people can wave to and leave alone. But then, he was different, he ignored all my flaws or just accepted them, he would walk up to me and give me that million dollar smile, and he would hug me and hug me and hug me out of nowwhere and “try” to hold my hand mostly everyday, a lot. And at the time, I thought it was weird and uncomfortable since that had never happened before and all. But now I regret it so much, I would give anything to see him again. He was the funniest, cutest, nicest guy I have ever met and I screwed it up by being too shy. Though I think that’s why he seemed to always want to be near me. He was also my brother’s friend which had me backing out of liking him.
    I remember he would just look me in the eye and ask, “Why are you so shy?” With a smile. I would be too shy to answer and he would add, “Not that its bad… its cute.” . And he would make other boys back off away from me. He had been the only person willing and wanting to sit by me on the bus, he was always smiling and laughting. The last time I saw him was when I stayed with my friend at night while my mom and siblings were away, st that time a party was going on but we didn’t want to go. He and his older brother Roylan was heading to it when they saw us, they didn’t want to go to the party anymore but instead hang out with us, which made me secretly happy.
    We takled and talked but I was too shy to say anything so I just sit there and listened, he was just staring at me too, sitting close and just staring. I was freaking out In nervousness and felt dizzy from my face flushing so much.
    After that a few days later, he moved away suddenly. And I found myself just looking down the street at his house in silence, just wishing I could take back everything and tell him my feeling.
    Im eighteen right now and im sure he is around that age since we went to middle school together. I tried finding him on facebook many times but there are sooo many people on it named Jimmy. I went to see him, find him, something…I can officially say he is my first love and I regret not telling him how much I liked him. I regret and dream of “what I should have done” in those moments he was near me.
    To all that have a love like this and they are there for you, don’t hold back your feeling or anything, or you will be like me…and regret it later.

  9. missinghim says:

    I’ve only written once before. It’s now been almost 7 months since I saw my FL for after 34 years. We live close to 2,000 miles apart and have agreed that’s probably a good thing. We met up at a reunion, spoke a good deal together in the afternoon, night, and shared a few dances together, one in each other’s arms. Nothing more happened than that other than the tremendous energy and immediate warmth you feel for your FL and being reunited. That dance we shared, unbeknownst to us at the time, a friend videoed and sent us. It’s been a treasured keepsake of ours ever since. While conversations have gone up and down due to life’s experiences with our own spouses and families, we are still in constant touch during the week via phone, email and text. I’m not sure but I don’t think we’ll see each other until the fall when another reunion is planned. I’m nervous about the feelings it will create when I actually see him and how strong they will be. I don’t see an end in sight, in my life, about how I feel about this man I”ve known since I was 16. Part of me doesn’t mind that at all and part of me asks, “how does my brain keep this up”? He’s on my mind all the time. It’s amazing, isn’t it, for those of us who are experiencing this? Simply just blows me away, the power of it all.

  10. STACEY ALLAM says:

    missinghim do your spouses know that you’ve been speaking how long have you been married? Is it a happy marriage? is his a happy marriage?

  11. K says:

    It’ll send u into a world wind! I know exactly what u are dealing with! It kills!

  12. STACEY ALLAM says:

    in my case there was plenty of sex drugs and rock and roll in our relationship it was 1977 and we were very independent enterprising teens it was love at first site and we were very happy till he started getting scared about the future and did not want to be tied down to just one person he told me he wanted to take someonelse to his prom and go away to college and wanted to sleep with others he made himself look and feel better about it by constantly telling me how honest he was being when he contacted me on facebook a few years ago he went right back into he was being honest I felt like I was back being 17 years old in 1978 and not in a good way

  13. STACEY ALLAM says:

    hey everyone theres some great advice on having affairs and thinking that he will leave his wife or girlfriend for you on a site called baggage reclaim look it up

  14. Don't Do It says:

    missinghim, I know exactly what you’re talking about. It is amazing and life altering and very overwhelming.

    I remember the feeling of all those years disappearing. The first time I heard his voice on the phone I was telling him things I didn’t even realize about my life and my marriage. It was just like there was no time in between the conversations we used to have (hours and hours every night before we went to sleep) and now. There was nothing I couldn’t tell him then and there wasn’t anything I didn’t feel like I could tell him now.

    Be very careful though. I’m still not sure if the trust I have in my FL is well placed or not but I’m starting to think a little more about it. I couldn’t think about it before. It was like there was no filter between my heart and what was coming out of my mouth.

    I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the last few days. He was an innocent boy back then with none of life experiences that change us all into slightly different people. Those experiences change some people tremendously so I am just worried that maybe the memory of who he was is all there is left. The boy he was doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not sure yet. Just some second thoughts I’m having on the entire situation.

  15. loveloveatfirstsight says:

    I knew my first love when I was first yr in university, we both student but in the other town, I’m Chinese n he is Indian. That was my first time who experience physical sex. He kept sending me email all those yrs with a short message, I back to hk after graduation, I ‘ve always waiting for him to come n visit me all these yrs n he never show up, I end up marry already with a 2yrs boy, last winter I back to Canada n had kept thinking give him I call but I withheld it since I am telling myself I already a mom. However, after I back to hk I just miss him v much n I make a brave move to give him a call. We talked over for an hour. I was so exciting n butterfly is all over my place. He never get marry or had any relationship after all, we had promised to marry each other N I dunno what to do, he still ask me to marry him

  16. inverydeep says:

    When I was 15 I was madly in love with my high school boyfriend, but my parents did not approve and we were broken up in a rather traumatic way. And now, over 30 years later, we have reconnected and almost instantly my feelings returned. It was overwhelming and wonderful and scary. And the same thing happened to him. While I was already divorced, he is still in a bad marriage, so we have not made any decisions beyond getting to know each other again by writing back and forth (we live 1000 apart).

    But the other overwhelming thing is the desire and sexual attraction that I feel, even from 1000 miles away. We gave our virginity to each other, so I was wondering if that had something to do with it, and now reading about “imprinting” makes these incredible feelings make more sense. Even though after we were broken up I went on to have a 25 year marriage, I never forgot about him.

    I don’t know what the future holds, but I am thrilled to have him back in my life.

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