Why is your first love so hard to get over?

I was asked to write an article for Deakin University about ‘why your first love can be hard to get over’.

Keen to get started, and excited that this was SO in my niche, I emailed their academic contact then set off to work, certain that I knew everything you could know about love – regardless of what the Professor had to say about it.

To cut a long story short, the Professor didn’t like my opinions at all – but I still maintain a lot of what I had to say will ring true with some of you – it may not be grounded in phsycological evidence, but I think you’ll get the drift.

If you want to read the version I created in collaboration with the academic, you can read that HERE.

If you want to hear The Glitter Bug’s version (that is completely based on my own experiences and observations, and is definitely not grounded in any evidence, like the majority of my writings on LOVE)… then read on, my loyal little Love Bugs…

When you ask someone about their first love, many will remember it with a whimsical fondness. First loves are notoriously hard to get over. Whether you still hold a spark for your lost love, or whether it went down like a torched city, why is so hard to move on from that first flame?

Hindsight is a highlights reel

When you look back on your first love, you forget all the negative bits. You may even play down the reason you broke up. You disregard all the fights and the annoying habits as if that part of the relationship didn’t even exist. All you remember is the cosy way you used to cuddle, the cute freckle on their right hip, or when they bought you flowers that one time.

Just like Facebook or Instagram, your memory of your first love often only shows you the good bits. It’s easy to hang on to the sweet and let the sour fall to the wayside… even though the sour parts are probably the cause of the break up.

If your brain only shows you the good times, it’s no wonder you can’t let go, and it’s easy to see why no one else can measure up.

Your first relationship was full of firsts

Your first relationship was probably full of firsts. First kisses, first proper dates, your first time feeling cared for, and protected, and in a proper partnership. Those firsts can be intense and memorable.

They can often also be hard to live up to.

For many years after your first love, it’s natural to compare any relationship to that first one. Just like that first bite of chocolate, you wonder if anything that follows could ever be as good.

When reminiscing, all those wonderful firsts far outweigh any negative memories. You’re left there, 5 years later, with a feeling of regret, asking yourself why you ever gave up such an incredible relationship.

You can either remind yourself that if it was so incredible, you wouldn’t have broken up, or you can continue ruminating with rose coloured glasses.

Wait, why did we break up?

Most of us are pretty young when we enter our first relationships. We don’t know who we are, what we want, or what to expect. Because of this, first love can often end abruptly, and for very obscure reasons.

Whether someone moved away, one of you behaved slightly inappropriately (or completely appropriately, for their age), or both of you grew into different people, lost love is hard to get over.

The aftershocks

Sometimes relationships end because of a violation of trust, a lack of respect, or poor decision making. If this is the case for your first love, again, there’s no definitive answer on if moving on is easy or difficult.

Recognising that this was not the person for you may make you feel relief and in turn make it easier to walk away without ever glancing back. This was the case for Christina* (*name changed to protect Non-Christina).

Christina was with her ex for 8 toxic years. Christina reflects on her time with her ex as full of problems; clashes with friends and family, cheating, and money issues. It was because of this that Christina finally realised she wanted to walk away – and did so with the support of friends and family.

After the initial grief of the first two weeks, Christina said she was able to see that she’d made the best decision for her future. She now reflects on her first love with a clarity that assures her it was the best decision of her life. In hindsight, once she had made the difficult decision, it was a relatively easy relationship to walk away from.

On the other hand, ending a relationship under such negative circumstances could mean an outdrawn and troubled mourning period. Professor Karantzas emphasises that this could be because issues of mistrust have arisen, and may have formed the basis of negative prejudices towards future partners.

So in conclusion…

It’s easy to look back many years later and think that nobody ticks boxes like your first love ticked your boxes. But it’s probable that your expectations may have evolved and grown more complex, just as you have matured and evolved also. It’s not that you are too picky or too fussy now, it’s just that back then, you were easier to please.

So, if you are not one of the lucky ones who ended up with their first love, don’t beat yourself up. You’re not the only one still crying over a bottle of red listening to Adele on repeat and eating ice cream by the litre. It really does take time to get over that lost love.

Want to get a better understanding of the complexities of human relationships? Consider a course from Deakin’s broad range of psychology courses.

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