Why Is It so Hard To Get Over Our First Love?


First Love

By Natasha Hatherall-Shawe


Recently I’ve been doing some alternative therapies to deal with some emotional and relationship issues and one thing that happened was that I found myself smacked right in the face with thoughts of my first love. Shudder.


It was over 20 years ago, it was not pretty in the end, I definitely would not want to be with him today and truly especially for the last 10 or so years I’ve not given him a second thought.


So, why all of a sudden am I seeing him in dreams, remembering vividly the way he used to look at me, remembering specific situations and all of this ultimately culminates in me finding myself looking him up on social media (he didn’t age well – tick!) and taking a bit of a journey down memory lane to my teenage years.


But maybe that’s the point and why it was time to address this first love I’ve compartmentalized to the back of my mind to ultimately move forward?


Or am I thinking too deeply here? Whatever, it definitely got me thinking about “first love” and the importance it undoubtably plays in our lives.


There are so many firsts in our life journey – first car, first drink, first day of school. Firsts are some of the most memorable moments in our life and they have the ability to shape us and the way we lead our lives too. But ultimately one of the most important firsts is our first love.


Love is always special, but first love takes you to places you’ve never been before, it introduces you to new feelings, for better or for worse. It may be your first kiss or even your first time being intimate. Even though your first love may not have lasted and the memories of when it ended were truly devastating, along with your first experience of heartbreak and loss, the truth is that it will be a part of who you are for the rest of your life.


Just like me recently, when we think about our first love, we may feel many emotions even still today which can be hard to explain or digest even if they happened 5, 10, 15 or even 50 years ago. Especially when you’ve long moved on, are happily married and that relationship is the last thing on your mind, with no desire to revisit it ever again. But this is where the problem lies and why it’s so unsettling.


Why is it so hard to get over your first love and why is it so darn life altering?


The thing with first love is that it’s quite literally our first and so we’re experiencing it for the first time and it does kind of set precedent for your road to love and all future relationships as dramatic as it sounds. Before you panic though it doesn’t mean you’re doomed for good if it was as terrible as you remember it to be now, even if you felt it at the time.


All the studies seem to show that when we fall in love, and especially the first time, that our brain experience increases in positive hormones, decreases in negative hormones and ultimately something very much like addiction. The first time is important as for many of us we experienced this during our adolescent years when our brain was still developing and it’s soaking up every learning experience it can and It’s fundamentally important for our physical and psychological growth.


So whilst we may be triggered to think about our first love and feel a bit emotional when we think about them, hear a certain song, smell a fragrance or see a photo of them on social media, according to science it’s likely the hormonal imprints that happened in a time when our brain was developing and forming who we are as individuals that causes the lifelong effects we experience and it’s not a true yearning for this person long after. Which frankly at this point does make me breathe a little sigh of relief. My husband bless him has nothing to worry about.


First love does affect us psychologically and how we approach our future relationships. I’m not sure about you, but I was definitely a bit less trusting and more guarded for a long time after, even possibly still today. I think it did affect the type of people I dated afterwards and what I looked for in a partner. Just like our parents affect our experience of familial love through our childhood experiences, so do our first loves and our future view of romantic love.


Researchers are still working away and there remains a lot they do not know when it comes to love and especially first love and why it is so powerful, but from the little they do know, it seems the impact on our biology will be felt for the rest of our lives.


I guess that means I’m destined to feel my stomach turn over every time I smell Hugo Boss or hear Bobby Brown singing “Two can play at that game” for the rest of my days. It could have been worse though right – it could have been our wedding song ;)


I’m not sure if I’m much clearer after I’ve wrangled on the idea of first love in recent weeks, but to finish up I’d like to quote a man way smarter than me. Albert Einstein once said, “How on earth are you going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?”. Whilst I love a bit of science, I also do like to look at first love through my rose tinted glasses and for the special and well seemingly life altering thing it was. It’s a right of passage we all need to go through and it's there to help us and guide us even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.


Thank you first love.