You never forget your first love. At least that’s what they say. Psychologists even suggest that you never really get over them either, because while it may not define you for the rest of your life, the impact of it being the first is something that you’ll never be able to shake. First loves are so powerful that there’s a reason they’ve inspired endless works of literature, music, and art since the beginning of time.
As psychology professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook Art Aron told The Washington Post in February of this year, “Your first experience of something is going to be well remembered, more than later experiences. Presumably there’d be more arousal and excitement, especially if it’s somewhat scary. And falling in love is somewhat scary… Anxiety is a big part of falling in love, especially the first time.”
While other research suggests that, if you can, you should skip your first love and go straight to your second love because you’ll be better off in the long run, personally I wouldn’t trade my first love, Timothy, for anything in the world. The way I loved him was a love I never knew again, because it was my first, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Here are 11 things you learn from your first love.
1. There’s Someone Out There Who Thinks You’re Totally Awesome
Your first love teaches you that someone, besides your family and friends, thinks you’re amazing and exciting and fun and totally lovable. At first it’s sort of a mind-boggling realization, but one you never forget.
2. Sex With Someone You Love Is Different
While some people’s first time having sex isn’t necessarily with their first love, it’s when you do have sex for the first time with someone you love that you understand just how different it is. There’s much more intimacy involved and you feel an emotional connection that you’re not likely to feel during sex that doesn’t include love.
3. Lust Is Intense
According to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, the first stage of falling in love is lust. It’s during this stage of the falling in love process that you’re able to spend 24/7 with your partner and never once get bored or annoyed. You’re so crazy about them that you could actually stay awake for days just so you wouldn’t miss out on something that they might say because, at this point, you think everything they say is the most fascinating thing you’ve ever heard.
4. Arguing Is A Natural Part Of Relationships
First love teaches us how to argue and, ideally, resolve things. We’re forced to realize that you can’t always be on the on the same page about everything and that’s OK. Arguing with the person you love is completely normal.
5. It’s Important To Keep Some Things To Yourself
A big thing that I learned from my first love was that I needed to keep parts of our relationship private. Yes, you definitely want to share all the great stuff and maybe even vent when things aren’t going perfectly, but when the latter happens it’s best to talk to your partner about it instead of your friends. This isn’t to say that your friends don’t give great advice, but being in love for the first time is complicated business and you can be more easily swayed than you might be later on with your other loves.
6. It Takes A Lot Of Work
I do believe it was my least favorite band of all time, The Beatles, who sang, “All you need is love.” While that’s true if you live in a Hollywood movie, your first love teaches you that there’s more to it than that. It takes compromise, communication, honesty, acceptance, and sometimes dealing with bullsh*t.
7. Trusting Someone Isn’t Always Easy
As Aron explains, falling in love for the first time is scary stuff. Lots of what you believe and expect from someone is put to the test. What this also means is that you need to learn to trust, but you also learn that trusting someone who isn’t your family or a friend is a risk you have to take.
8. That You Need To Learn How To Balance Your Relationship And Your Friendships
One of the downsides of first loves? Totally forgetting about everyone else in your life so you can be with your love ALL THE TIME. While it’s a mistake we all make the first time we’re in love, it’s also a mistake that we learn from, or at least we should learn from, because your family and friends are more of a sure thing.
9. The Whole Butterflies Feeling Will Fade
When you’re first in love for the very first time, those butterflies that you experience every time you even just think of that person is something you assume, or at least hope, will never fade. But a hard lesson to learn is that they do. It’s not because you love them any less or have stopped loving them all together, it’s just evolution of the falling in love process. It means you’ve reached the attachment stage where everything feels good, safe, and comfortable.
10. You’ll Make Them A Marker For All Relationships That Follow
No matter how the relationship with your first love ended, you’ll always use them as a marker for the rest of the loves you’ll have. Even now, when I meet someone, I still think of ways in which they’re different or similar to Timothy. I’m not comparing them, per se, but just acknowledging what I knew then and what I know now.
11. You Can Survive Heartache (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It At The Time)
The biggest problem with a having a first love is that in being the “first,” it means there are other loves to follow, but they can’t happen until you have that first breakup. Losing your first love teaches you that, although it’s pain like you’ve never ever known before, you can survive a lost love. Not only can you survive it, but you’re stronger, wiser, and all that other stuff that your friends, family, and therapists will tell you after every breakup for the rest of your life.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy (6)