“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.

If you enjoyed this piece please consider giving your blessing to my Facebook Fan Page. Thank you.

(Visited 4,601 times, 1 visits today)

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

  1. Chater says:

    People don’t seem to understand the notion that there is rarely precedent when it comes to romantic situations. They think what worked for them and their buddy in highschool will obviously deliver for others in marriage, even if they don’t see what’s going on behind closed doors. There are too many variables to be able to say there is a formula for X circumstances.

    You’d be surprised to see what people search for when looking for The Idiot Board.

  2. Wendell Beiter says:

    I love reading this blog, especially when you talk about relationships (and leaving them)

  3. Paula says:

    Again, I think this article is quite powerful. Although you are talking about the journey people take when trying to work out weather to leave a relationship (thus experiencing the grief, loss and uncertainty associated), I think this article is more far reaching. We have to make choices about a lot of potentially life changing things. You’re right, we don’t have the answers for another person. We’ve all been guilty of saying, “don’t” or “I think that’s a good idea”. We don’t know how it is for another person, nor do we know the true extent of the journey that person has already taken. Sometimes, we feel so depleted that we don’t think we can make a well thought out decision, and we wonder if that decision will, in fact, be in our best interest. Sometimes I think it is about putting in place a decision that will work for us in the short term, to help us regain some perspective so that we can gain some sort of psychological second wind if you like, to start making the steps to carry out the steps weneeed to take to help us get in touch with our core values. I digress, but in relation to the theme of the article, reuniting with a first love, maybe it’s about reflecting upon our core values. How do the steps we want to put in place fit with those.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Reuniting With Your First Love on the Net Revisited Shrink Talk […]

  5. Shay says:

    Cross-posted to FB.

    (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.

    Great writing Dr. Rob…I don’t think I could have phrased it better myself.

  6. BL1Y says:

    I have the feeling that most people know everyone’s situation is more nuanced than just “should I get back with my ex” or whatever generic question they have. I think when they pose these questions they’re looking for something other than an answer, such as attention, validation, whatever.

    Contrariwise, some people are retarded and just don’t understand that there aren’t cookie cutter answers to relationship problems.

    And because I check for search terms for my site almost daily, I have to share. These all make sense on their own, but taken together, I think they’re pretty hilarious:

    cartoon kiddie porn
    99 hot new sex tips
    indian child welfare act

  7. Heim says:

    Awesome blog, just found it in yahoo. Subscribed!

  8. […] Post: Reuniting With Your First Love…On the Net (Revisited) Share this […]

  9. Franko says:

    Thoughtful provocative article!
    Although I agree on a certain level that who are we to give advice in someone else complicated and unique life, I do think most people are sheep in need of a shepherd. And having lived through losing and winning back an ex I find it might be useful in some peoples lives to help them see how I solved my own problems however unique and personal.
    I don’t claim to have THE solution but gently show them different avenues.
    To summarize I advocate them to take back their lives, to take possession of themselves and whatever the outcome they will be better human beings in the end.
    Love your site, will be back for sure!

  10. RallyRebel2010 says:

    I had a fabulous fairytale weekend with my first love. I became aware of his profession over 20 years ago. I have never sought him out. I’ve had a couple of wonderful men in my life since then, and have not had any desire to ever search his name or seek him out.

    I believe that to initiate a search for your first love is the first sign that you want to see them again. It starts with your frame of mind when you make the decision to find them; that first time you type their name into a search bar…what are you looking to find?

    If you are fortunate enough to have a successful search after months or years of waiting for a response…you can choose to act on it, or not, depending on where life has led you since you sent that first message.

    If you are fortunate enough to reunite into a fabulous fireball of passion,
    and find that you can not stop thinking about each other…you are likely very lucky to have found each other. Sometimes a fire creates collateral damage. Someone had to light the match, first. I think trying to remain platonic after such a reunion is wafting at the flames…that won’t put them out.

  11. forex says:


    […]“Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net” Revisited « Shrink Talk[…]…

  12. JP says:

    I’m going to take this opportunity to argue with a year-old post from BL1Y and incorporate legal jargon that’s recently been in the news.

    BL1Y writes:

    “I have the feeling that most people know everyone’s situation is more nuanced than just “should I get back with my ex” or whatever generic question they have. I think when they pose these questions they’re looking for something other than an answer, such as attention, validation, whatever.”

    In this particular case, people are looking for an answer. More particularly the are looking for an answer to “what just happened to me?” and “is it normal?”

    This is some sort of very limited offshoot of the human bonding instinct that is quite unusual and quite distinct from normal relationship world.

    It’s kind of like a random person encountering someone who’s just engaged in adverse possession of their property. Although in that case, they are asking “what just happened to me” and “is it legal”?

  13. Doctor says:


    […]“Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net” Revisited « Shrink Talk[…]…

  14. скачать dle бесплатно…

    […]“Reuniting With Your First Love…on the Net” Revisited « Shrink Talk[…]…

  15. Anonymous says:

    First and only time I posted my husband accidentally come across my post because i bookmarked it not realizing i was bookmarking my post…..so he found out the hard way….yet he has forgiven me….but that don’t change the fact that i want to be with my long lost love from 25 years ago. I have the best marriage anyone could have 20 years,,,,but the desire is burning to be with my lost love. we loved each other then and we love each other now, we want it to be me and him, every day, forever and we know it wont be easy, but i just don’t know how to leave even if i want too….anyone having the same problem?????

  16. EN says:

    Had a bad breakup 30 years ago, never saw
    her again. I think she’s divorced. I would love
    to talk to her, instead so that it would be up to her,
    I wrote a nice card looking to talk. I would like
    the chance to see her. I have been told to go
    where she lives, to call there, to speak to her
    mother. I do not want to impose, I would like
    to talk, but if it will be strong it must be her
    decision. After the card. What can I do? I mailed this
    to her mom’s address. I can mail one to hers.
    Any other ideas? We were so close. It’s sad to
    think about.

  17. John says:

    My first love and I – both married w children – hadn’t spoken for 20 years, but we recently reconnected online. “How have you been?” turned into “I never have loved anyone like I still love you.” We’re both longing, don’t want to leave our families, don’t live in the same state, and have become obsessed. If 20 years didn’t cure it, nothing will. We’re trying to be friends, but it’s hard. I don’t feel jealousy, just long to hold each other again.

  18. BD says:

    We reconnected on Facebook after almost 30 years and it was like those 30 years had vanished. Problem was I was “happily” married with three children and she was slowly breaking away from hers. We saw each other a few times and the three year affair almost destroyed my marriage. It was very hard on the old love and I both in feelings of destroying the others life and that what we were doing violated everything we’d stood for and raised our respective children to believe. The kids, 2000 miles, guilt, shame, being ostracized by family, seeing the pain in my wife’s face, my incredible wife never giving up on us, losing half of everything, and the other persons uncertainty of what they wanted long term finally ended it. I do love my wife very much but am convinced in the soulmate debate that it does (can) exist. I think of her every day. No one can be her and I will always love her like no other. I guess that is our cross to bear as we struggle to do the right thing and move on. Never saw it coming and wouldn’t wish the heartache of destroying families on anyone. Counselors said that some doors are meant to stay closed. I say some people have a key.

  19. dodgedbullet says:

    I had a similar situation – reconnected with my first love from the early age 18 ( a brief but passionate and affecting summer romance) after 40 years on line. He contacted me after a death in my family. I could hear his voice through the email – it felt like it made a powerful B-line to my soul. I went through an intensive period of communicating back and forth with him on-line, found out he had been separated and recently had gone back to his wife. Nevertheless he quickly conveyed to me how much he valued communicating with me, how much he admired me, had followed my career on-line etc. I communicated similar thoughts / feelings. It was incredibly flattering and a turn-on “to be remembered” so affectionately after such a long period of time.

    I was having a difficult period in my marriage and my husband felt I should move on from the death in my family which I couldn’t do. Mr. Internet encouraged me to talk about my feelings about the loss of my family member and said things that helped me with my mourning. He seemed to be a bottomless pit of patience ; he said talking to me was the “most fun” thing in his life. But wait a minute, I thought: You just went back to your wife after a year’s separation – how can THAT not be the MOST IMPORTANT thing in you life? It made no sense and I began to get nervous… His comments became increasinly tender and caring, reminding me of how sensitive he was and loving. I was feeling I was on a very slipperyh slope and thought that this was just some kind of “fantasy” in his mind and mine. But I don’t think it was just “any old” fanatsy but a MEGA-DOSE of the “myth of ROMANTIC LOVE” that E-MAIL had facilitiated.

    I gradually began to realize ROMANCE is socially constructed mythology that is enormously powerful in Western culture. We are bombarded with it constantly through media and literature and we wish to believe it because it gives meaning and beauty to our lives. In fact it promises to even DEFY death – i.e. the ideal of love never ends and Love is eternal. So when an old love contacts you after the passage of MANY DAYS, WEEKS, MONTHS or even DECADES that is IN and OF itself INCREDIBLY romantic and a powerful aphrodisiac, but MORE TO THE POINT It provides the PROOF that love is forever; “true love never dies” and other such ROMANTIC MYTHOLOGICAL notions. In short, I learned that the process of the “re-connecting” is very similar to “falling in love all over again” and is as ROMANTIC if not MORESO than the memory of youthful romantic times together.

    The “intimacy” of communication that the internet enables also allows all of the above sub-components of “romantic love” to be re-inforced, i.e. “we communicate so intimately as if the years never passed” ERGO this must be something REAL because “thousands of miles and thousands of days” apparently can’t keep us apart ERGO “This is the love of my life” etc etc

    In a nutshell, what happens in the obsessive e-mailing provides snow-balling evidence that there was SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT between us and it’s NOT OVER !

    What I’m saying is that the internet re-connecting ITSELF become powerful PROOF for the theory of “this was the love of my life” and somehow OVER-POWERS the fact that YOU BROKE UP FOR SOME REASON – what was that reason? ? ? Somehow that gets “swept under the rug” as the myth of ROMANTIC LOVE over=powers everything else – it’s that powerful, like a drug.

    I feel “I’ve been where everyone has been” in these comments , but have managed -still trhying – to come out the other side. (I didn’t realize however that so many were going through this on-line
    experience and that my own experience was such a CLICHE ! ! ! ).

    Lessons Learned: Romance is great in novels and movies but once you’ve committed to a person, made a VOW for BETTER or WORSE, I think there’s a lot to be said for focusing on the ROMANCE IN YOUR PRESENT RELATIONSHIP and the STORY OF THE LOVE YOU ARE PRESENTLY WITH – not looking for it elsewhere. I AGREE WITH THE COUNSELORS above who said “Some doors are meant to stay closed” . Given our enormous human fraility and our wholehearted susceptibility to the MYTH OF ROMANTIC LOVE, the person who you believe may “have a key” may also hold the key to MAJOR devastation in your life and the lives of your family members – NOT TO MENTION the life of your spouse. So the collateral damage of this kind of thing is HUGE.

    I like the REALISM of “love the one you’re with” ! Think about the man or woman you’ve made a life-long PLEDGE to as in a MARRIAGE VOW. What about all the days you’ve worked together to “build something” to – in some cases – make a family: What about all those blood and sweat and tears – the fights the struggles that bonded you and made you stronger / and more honest with each other ? No it’s NOT necessarily “misty and water-colored” like the romantic memories of an earlier love but what you’ve had with your REAL partner is “the REAL THING, BABY.”

    Ultimately WE HAVE THE KEY to say to our former love who’s seeking us out on-line: “NO THANK YOU. I do not believe we can be in a casual relatoinship given our past relationship. Moreover, I’m in a relationship now so thank you for respecting that.”

  20. spincycle says:

    To dodgedabullet,

    Everything you have to say rings true. I did come to the same conclusions you have articulated so well. Unfortunately it was in hindsight. This happened to me three years ago without the aid of Facebook. Now, with more and more social networking sites popping up, we are seeing contacts of this nature grow at an ever increasing rate. I really thought I was the only one that had ever been contacted after such a long time.

    Sometimes these things take off after an innocent desire to just say “Hi” and catch up. But sometimes the one that makes contact has an ulterior motive, as was the case with me. Had my marriage been rocky I might have jumped, and what an awful mistake that would have been. Yes, you are right. Most often these things ended the first time (unless you were broken up by forces beyond your control, like parental interference) for a reason.

    However, there is a powerful draw that is felt to a first love. We revert back to being giddy teenagers. These were the loves that burned pathways in our brains and re-igniting those pathways is a heady experience, one that our adult brains have a hard time overiding. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy feeling 18 again?

    So, mistakes are made, hopefully before too much damage has been done. As this continues to receive attention more people will know what to expect and be able to head it off at the pass. As for me, it just took me completely by surprise.

  21. miandmy3 says:

    I too find myself in the same situation. I contacted my high-school sweetheart on Facebook just to see how he was doing. This turned into texting and phone calls and us talking of reconnecting. That was 4 months ago. In a few months we are moving in together with two of my three children (the oldest is on his way to college). What was intended as an innocent inquiry ignited something that never died. I’ve never been married and he is separated with no children so there is no one to hurt. My kids like him and are really glad to see their mom happy. I never thought I would even find him and I certainly never thought we’d end up back together after almost 20 years. My family is not thrilled but I dont think they understand the powerful feelings two people can have after such a long time. I go to sleep thinking of him and I wake up thinking about him. Its like all these years never happened. The only bump I have had with the situation is recociling the boy he was with the man he has become. It was almost like meeting a new person but not. Other than that I have enjoyed reliving the past with him and getting to know the person he is now. The boy I fell in love with all those years ago is now the man I adore and I couldnt be happier.

  22. NeedAdvice says:

    My husband of 30 years have been emailing his ex-wife since February. (She contacted him via Facebook) He just told me about 3 weeks ago. He wants me to be “her” friend and says that he doesn’t have any plans on leaving me but he still loves her and won’t pick between the 2 of us. She hasn’t emailed him since I asked her to be my friend on FB. I think he’s obsessed with her but he tells me he’s not. I don’t think I need to wait until he decides what he’s going to do. Need Advice.

  23. m says:

    When I was 11 i had gone to italy for three months. I met a boy named Roberto Verta, he was 14. He found me recently after 30 years via facebook. and he has sent messages of always loving me. And although he has not time, that I am to write him lots of messages even if he cannot respond as he is busy. So i feel confused . I have been with the same man 17 years but this roberto sends such beautiful messages. they may be few messages but impactful. he says things like i will love until i die. and just i love you etc. im confused i feel the same way but i feel foolish nieve. specially since im sending the majority of the messages. he says he has just opened a new store plus his advertising company and is just too busy but to keep sending him messages as he enjoys them and thinks of me at work. reality says im being foolish and unrealistic and part of me wants to get carried away and lost into the dream of a reality. even though we do not understand eachother because he speaks italian and i english ?????????????? im torn apart lost confused daydreaming too much my work is suffering my family can see there is something going on with me. im not sleeping or eating !!!!!!!!!!!!!my first love found me and now i am lost.

  24. HeavyHeart says:

    M – Anyone can be anything on the Internet; I know a guy in his 40s who gets his kicks by pretending online to be a woman in her 20s. So first off, don’t accept ANYTHING as true; this guy is much more likely to be busy e-mailing other women than he is with starting a business. Did you read the post from Dodgedbullet? This “romance” is ruining your life. You don’t say that you’re married, but doesn’t having “been with the same man 17 years” mean anything? YOU have the power to take back control of your life; stop being selfish, stop opening this guy’s e-mails and focus on what is real.
    If you want to know more about my own background, look for my other post to this article.

  25. HeavyHeart says:

    NeedAdvice – No, you don’t need to wait. You need to un-friend his ex-wife, and then you need to have some brutally honest talks with your husband about your marriage. Tell him that you are not willing to share him with his ex, and if he can’t “pick” you over her after 30 years then he better hope that she’ll take him in. Be careful, though; he may tell you that he’ll stop contacting her and then do it anyway. You need to address the underlying issue of why he feels the need to contact her even though it hurts you emotionally. You don’t say what her status is; if she’s married, you might want to tell her that you’ll contact her husband about what she’s doing. That might get HER to back off.
    If you want to know more about my own background, look for my other post to this article.

  26. HeavyHeart says:

    John –
    You and your “first love” should be ashamed of yourselves. Honor your commitment to your wife and kids, and stop “trying to be friends” with the woman from your past. You have no right to tear two families apart. Stop contacting her. You’ll miss her and think about her, but if you put more energy into building a healthy marriage you’ll think about her a lot less.

  27. HeavyHeart says:

    “Ultimately WE HAVE THE KEY to say to our former love who’s seeking us out on-line: “NO THANK YOU. I do not believe we can be in a casual relatoinship given our past relationship. Moreover, I’m in a relationship now so thank you for respecting that.”
    DodgedBullet –
    Thank you for your insights. I hope it’s OK with you that I put that quote from you at the top of my post; those few simple, respectful sentences might save a lot of people a lot of heartache, and not everyone has the patience to read a long post (even a worthy one such as yours!).

  28. HeavyHeart says:

    Summary: Every situation is unique, but if we are not guided by fundamental and unchanging principles then we are no better than animals. Value long-term relationships; stick with someone who has stood by you. Don’t give in to selfish impulses; be willing to defer or even deny your own happiness, if it is necessary to do so in the best interests of those you care about. Consider the price that OTHERS will pay for YOUR happiness. Look for contentment in what you have, not what you wish you had.

    Comment: While most of the article seems quite reasonable, the pompous line that those who offer answers are “not working with a complete understanding of how psychology works” betrays the author’s fundamental disrespect of his audience. Can anyone, ESPECIALLY the author, say they have such an understanding? Blathering on about nuances and not being simplistic and avoiding judgments is of no value. Do I know what is best for the “person sitting in front of me?” You bet I do, based on hard experience. I know that instant gratification sacrifices long-term satisfaction. I know that it is wrong to sacrifice the happiness of others on the altar of selfishness. I know that there is a terrible price to pay for forsaking one’s vows, a price paid more by those who are forsaken than by the one doing the forsaking. Of course there are multiple factors to consider, but finances and friends are not among them. The single most important factor is RESPONSIBILITY. As in, what responsibilities do I have? If I’m married with children, is my “first love” more important than my responsibility to my kids? If I’ve been married 30 years and the kids are grown, am I entitled to sacrifice the happiness of my devoted spouse so that I can feel like I’m 18 again? It’s ironic that in emphasizing the importance of self and turning away from social virtues such as duty and honor, our culture has only increased the level of misery.

    Background: I had a very intense relationship in HS; we both thought it would be for life. Much to my regret, in college I – and I alone – neglected the relationship, and eventually we moved on and married others. She and her family are fortunately hundreds of miles away, but I still run into her parents and siblings, so I know a little about her situation. I was married more than 5 years, had a child, and divorced several years later. My wife and I were never really “happy,” but not a day goes by now that I don’t wish that I had “stuck it out” for my child’s sake. When kids are involved, in the absence of abuse, DIVORCE IS WRONG (which I suppose makes me an “extremist” … so be it). Don’t repeat my mistake of putting your own happiness before what your children need, which is BOTH PARENTS, EVERY DAY. I can’t undo it – though I did try – but maybe I can keep someone else from making the same mistake.

    Regarding my first love, I want very badly to tell her how sorry I am … that I think of her often, and that I realize now that she was probably the one and only person who ever completely accepted and loved me just as I am. I wish I could tell her that I was young and foolish, and didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. I have so many questions … does she think of me? Did I break her heart? Did she forgive me? Does she still love me? But I’ll never know the answers, and that is VERY hard to accept.

    I’ll never know the answers because after reading the stories about how destructive “innocent” reconnections can be, I am not going to give in to the selfish impulse to contact her. I have no right to intrude on the life she has built, and possibly cause her, those she loves, and those who love her the pain and anguish I have known. I could contact her with nothing but honorable intentions, but knowing the possible consequences would make it a much less than honorable action. It would simply be selfish … putting my own desires and curiosity above any concern for her. And what about her … what if she’s in an unhappy marriage? Then it’s up to her … to make it better, or to decide to end it. Any contact I initiate would only make that process more complicated. I still love her, but I could never tell her that unless her marriage had broken up without my interference; and I couldn’t wish the pain of that on anyone, let alone someone I care deeply about.

  29. dodgedbullet says:

    To: Heavy Heart

    BRAVO ! You have been one of the few who’ve posted on this website who actually seems to have benefitted from reading these posts. You have CHOSEN to obviate the emotional devastation that FL-reunions can so easily effect as well as the collateral damage to innocent by-standing spouses and children

    . One might call it the “banality” of evil – the potential evil of something as “innocent” as Facebook and other sites that enable re-connections. Yes, we know about stalking children and other evils the internet has enabled , AND HERE’s a NEW EVIL that the internet has brought about – make no mistake about it!

    You are SO MATURE and TRULY RESPECTFUL of your FL to not give in to the selfish impulse to contact her – and yes you are absolutely right, it is SELFISH because it’s more about YOU than about HER because you have no idea who she is or where she is in her life or if you are even on her radar screen. Why selfishly insert yourself in there UNLESS this is about YOU and NOT her ! Fortunately, you recognize this which is more than most folks do! I am going to QUOTE the rest of what you had to say because it’s AWESOME ADVICE I wish I’d had a few years ago before I “innocently” reconnected with my FL. Even though NOTHING physical ever happened between us – we’ve seen each other on numerous occasions and it’s always wrenching leaving me, at least, confused and wanting to see him more. So the emotional turmoil connecting caused was traumatic for me and most likely for him as well.

    Your WORDS OF WISDOM RE: NOT contacting your former FL:

    “I have no right to intrude on the life she has built, and possibly cause her, those she loves, and those who love her the pain and anguish I have known. I could contact her with nothing but honorable intentions, but knowing the possible consequences would make it a much less than honorable action. It would simply be selfish … putting my own desires and curiosity above any concern for her. And what about her … what if she’s in an unhappy marriage? Then it’s up to her … to make it better, or to decide to end it. Any contact I initiate would only make that process more complicated. I still love her, but I could never tell her that unless her marriage had broken up without my interference; and I couldn’t wish the pain of that on anyone, let alone someone I care deeply about.”

    WELL SAID. You are a rarity these days – an honorable person. I can tell you if you love her as deeply as you say, connecting with her will be a huge mistake because you will NOT be able to NOT convey your love to her by your actions and words – it is too powerful an emotion to hide. And this will only confuse and ultimately hurt her. You have done the right thing as difficult as it is. I was weakened by my sister’s death so found my guard down and “susceptible” when my FL contacted me — If you find yourself in such a situation, please don’t give in to the impulse to re-connect. The comforting your FL can give you can touch you so deeply because you are bonded with her in such a profound way – or at least in your mind and you have little control once in congtact with her over the power of the imprint she has made on you. No one seemed to help me as much as my FL’s emails through my mourning – so I am warning you that you may have your guard down at such times, and to be very careful!

  30. HeavyHeart says:

    DodgedBullet –
    Thank you for your kind words. You are so right about the “banality of evil” … I hope you don’t mind but I’ll probably borrow that too, it really captures the essence of the very real dangers posed by seemingly innocent things like Facebook. Too many people seem to be unwilling to recognize the very real influence of evil in the world today.

    I was also struck by what you said about being vulnerable when you are in mourning … my dad passed away in June, and I had wondered if I would hear from her. Perhaps I didn’t because she’s read an article like this one. As far as I know her parents are in good health, but I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind (I don’t know exactly but they are at least in their late 70s). They used to be good friends of my mom before she moved out of state, so I don’t think my mom would understand why I wouldn’t offer my condolences if/when the time comes. It would be nice to think that I could make a one-time contact to offer sympathy, but it’s difficult to imagine being able to keep things on a superficial level. I guess some people will think I’m being insensitive when just the opposite is true.

  31. LovingMe says:

    I’ve been married for 18 years during this time it has been alot of ups and downs and I decided to ask for a divorce. In the meantime I reconnected with my first love of high school, at first is was just email’s and after he gave me his number and every since then we have talked everyday. Once I heard his voice I was filled with so much emotions I haven’t felt in over 20 years. We have spent time together as much as I tell myself we should just keep our relationship as friends, I can’t help but feel love for him. Since I haven’t finalized my divorce just yet it’s hard to say if we will eventually be together. My first love is definetly not the boy I remeber and we are totally different places in life, but I still find myself drawn to him and I find myself trying to figure out a way I can balance out our differences without giving up so much I’ve gained in life. While I have been honest with my soon to be ex about the feelings I no longer have for him, he continues to stick around hoping for me to change. Help should I stay with a man I no longer love or leap for a man that I hardly know?

  32. Richard says:

    Still gonna see my first love asap. It will be incredible.Why the pseudo-
    intellect? Blah, blah, blah.In life you”go hard or go home”.

  33. Betsy says:

    thank you all for your thoughtful posts. I am going through this now and seeking guidance. We didn’t reconnect via Facebook though. No I’m much more resourceful and tracked him down. Now we are obsessed with each other and I am considering leaving an almost 29-year marriage. Children are grown. But I see a chance for a new life and wonder does it EVER work out well??? Is sticking out the marriage always the best answer? I can see that there’s pain involved no matter what course is followed. Thank you all.

  34. Honeybun says:

    My first

  35. I have recently reconnected with my 1st love. I had searched many times for her in the past but to no avail. We chatted briefly, talked on the phone and text-ed.
    As I feel it, the foundations that brought you together the 1st time are still there. In some ways,you pick up where you left off, while in other ways you grow and develop. Your history becomes a series of chapters, although separate from each other, still it builds your character. When you reconnect, its like you have grown. I find that i am bonded, and that my re connection is a rare and wonderful thing. I am so happy, beyond mere words.

  36. dodgedabullet says:

    Yes but if you’re in a marriage or committed relationship – or SHE is. Watch out.
    It’s dangerous and destructive to rekindle first loves – although it may be a beautiful thing and feeling that emotional bonds can last across time. Get over it if others are involved because you are about to cause damage to them and/or your first love.

    Read the posts and take heed. A lot of people can be hurt by these reunitings, including yourself and the woman your have reconnected with. So it’s NOT innocent and innocuous.

  37. You sound much like a forlorn, jilted lover to me or perhaps the jilted exwife.
    I am divorced, she is a widow. and you are assuming so much without really knowing anything. This isn’t really advice you are offering. It’s just your hurtful take on a very pure re connection.

  38. dodgedabullet says:

    Read the comments – most people who’ve reunited with “first loves” have done so when one or both are in long-term relationships. I was speaking for the majority I believe on this site. If you’re both available and there are no current partners of course it can be a beautiful thing. Many of the reunitings with first loves are powerful bonds that last a long time. Perhaps you could’ve pointed out that you are both “available.”

  39. Kc says:

    It’s a very powerful feeling knowing u have this want and need for someone so longtime ago. It never leaves our minds no matter what happens in life. U only understand it if you’ve been there. It’s crushing, it’s a feeling that never leaves no matter how much u tell yourself to knock it off it won’t work out…

  40. brenda says:

    i was married at 20 and he was 19 we split 5 years later. i loved this man so much and althou i got married twice it was not what i wanted. i still had my first love in my mind 32 years later we have re united through the death of my brother and have been in touch daily for 4 months we have met and iv spent the night with him. the love i had then is not as strong as the love i feel now it is so powerful i takes me a lot to hold back my feelings. i am seperated from my husband and having a divorce my love has been divorced for 5 years. i know we will be together again but it will take time and patience but i am willing to wait. all you out there if you get the chance i have had take it with both hands and cherrish it, it will not come around again.

  41. Anonymous says:

    james Patterson just came out with a book called first love . ..could he have stolen our thunder

  42. trica brock says:

    I fell in love with my first the moment we laid eyes on each other he worked in a book store and I was waiting for the bus he was 17 I was 14 we dated he went away to school wanted us to sleep with others did not take me his prom found out after he left for school he was sleeping with my best friend he came months later and tried to apologize I was still angry said no did not hear from him again till 35 years later hhe found me on face book apologized hes married as am I with children we spoke one night I told him I did nnot want to keep wringing he still did I ignored him and eventually defriended and blocked him it was very emotional opening up those old wounds and I saw no reason to do it yet I have not been able to forget him

  43. Don't Do It says:

    I contacted my first love eight months ago. I really did believe we could be friends and I was interested in hearing how his life had turned out. I wish I would have researched the subject more before contacting him. It’s done now and can’t be undone. I’ve been married for 30 years to my second love. I’ve only ever loved the two of them and I will always love the two of them. The mind is a funny thing and just hearing my FL’s voice again brought back everything. I hadn’t heard his voice for 32 years but as soon as I did it felt like we had never been apart. We are both struggling with our feelings and want so much to be able to stay in touch. I don’t think it’s possible. We’ve tried just being friends but the conversations always lead to other places that neither of us feel are morally appropriate. We decide to quit contacting each other and don’t for a few weeks and then I give in to my heart and call him. We are usually able to keep the conversations on a friend level for a week or so and then we are right back to inappropriate discussions. I’ve been praying and hoping for the courage and determination to just STOP. Hopefully this time I can.

    To those who are married and contemplating contacting your first love, PLEASE don’t think you are different from those of us who are now miserable because we gave in to the belief that our happy marriages were strong enough to handle the emotions of the past.

  44. Anonymous says:


  45. dodgedabullet says:

    I have been in your position and I was playing with fire, but didn’t even know it.
    I figured it out before it was too late – mainly because of this website. But I love my husband of 40 plus years and didn’t wish to destroy all we’d built. Do you wish to destroy all you’ve put together with your present spouse? Do you wish to hurt those you love because of passsions from the past that haven’t completely died?

    It may seem weird, counter-intuitive but the way to honor your past relationship may be to walk away from this person, and cease calling him. You seem to know that’s right but feel compelled to “stay in touch. ” Those actions are feeding an emotional bond which will always be there BUT if you don’t communicate and steer clear of each other, it will wither and gradually die our like eventually mourning the loss of a loved one becomes less painful

    It was best for me to walk away from it ” because it’s not in my interest or the interest of my long-standing, yet often tumultuous marriage. Does the compulsion to contact him feel like a “good thing”? I became so “obsessed” with hearing from my FL after 40 years I knew it could not be right/ good thing yet like you I didn’t wish for the communication to stop for about 3 months or so. This was several years ago. As all the comments on this site demonstrate in 95 per cent of the cases the more you communicate with the person the more it will become “realer” and “realer.” Finally the emails slowed down (almost stopped) in my case and it got better ( I was less obsessed and emotionally overwrought) but I must say I now live in the same town as he and when we see each other you could cut the emotional energy between us with a knife… I’m considering trying to avoid any place I know he frequents because the feelings stimulated are just too much to handle in “old age.” I’m 65. I wish you the best and all I can say is that if a Little Voice inside of you is saying : You really shouldn’t contact him, I believe you should listen to that voice, which may be your conscience trying leading you to do the right thing for you and your FL. As this site shows these “on-line reunions” can be very powerful and also very destructive. I see few examples of them NOT hurting someone badly – often innocent by-standing spouses and children. So far I have dodged a bullet but it’s like an addiction.. you have to continue to abstain and work at it. That’s what is feels like to me. AND do I really want to BE with a person I’m “addicted” to because of y

  46. dodgedabullet says:

    cont’d. …do I reallly want to be with a person I’m addicted to because of powerful emotional and sexual experiences we had as youth that are still hard-wired into our brains and emotional make-up and seemingly into our souls ? I don’t think it’s “love” but some kind of powerful psychological attachment hard-wired in me from youth — I think some psychiatrists are likening this to a bond with a parent or child, i.e. it’ll always be there and communication only magnifies/ stimulates the connection. I knew something was wrong when I was seeking emotional support, reassurance, from HIM… that’s my husband’s job! ! Finally I would only say, those of us who are married took a VOW in front of family, friends and our communities. We vowed to “foresake all others” … that means when we’re feeling attracted and emotionally connected, we vowed to walk away from those feelings – to foresake that person. I believe if one is married or the other (FL) is married walking away from that person is the RIGHT THING to do. It honors the person and yourself and your marriage to do so.

  47. K says:

    It’s worse if not close to a drug, it has such an emotional impact on the brain that many times it’s hard to even live life!! It’s wanting to turn back the clock and live it all over again, I know I would give it a second shot if things were right! It’s an ever lasting burn that’s inside and will never leave you, I mean never! Many times it kills just thinking about it!

  48. dodgedabullet says:

    K –

    I am so sorry you have experienced so much pain. I guess I feel the suffering it causes may be a signal it’s not good for you…but would being with your FL fix the pain? I don’t know the answer. Hang in there !

  49. Anonymous says:

    I feel u miss 100 percent of the chances u never take and that’s at any age!! I know what I feel, it’s just that he’s a little stuck in a marriage w kids and so am I…but we both feel the same, just a few hurdles in the way…

  50. Don't Do It says:

    Thank you dodgedabullet. It is comforting to know that it will pass and become bearable. I’m sure we haven’t given it enough time in between our communications to allow the powerful feelings to fade. I agree somewhat with anonymous about regrets for things you don’t do. I think that has something to do with getting older and feeling you’ve led a safe and secure existence, but at the expense of complete happiness.

    What has helped me the most over the last couple of weeks is to remember my husband when we were dating. I was fixating on how wonderful my FL was when we were dating and comparing those feelings to the less passionate feelings my husband and I now have for each other. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. I chose my husband over my FL for a reason. Part of that reason was he made me feel so much more when we were dating. I made the right choice 30 years ago.

    I was also fixated on the history my FL and I share and how precious those memories are to both of us. That history is a small drop in the buckets of our lives. The history I have with my husband is almost the entire bucket and includes so many wonderful and life changing experiences.

    So far, so good. If it is an addiction I guess it’s One Day at a Time.