Why You Can't Forget Your First Love, According To Psychology
No matter how much time has passed or how many relationships you've been in since then, you just can't forget your first love. Falling in love for the first time is life changing. The emotions you feel are brand new and intense. You can't stop obsessing over your partner, and you just can't imagine living a life without them. When it's the first time you've ever felt so strongly about someone before, it can be truly devastating to have all of that end suddenly.
According to relationship experts, there are reasons for why your first love is so unforgettable. For instance, David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle that brain chemistry and connection play a big role in it.
"First loves are often very strong emotional connections," Bennett says. "In many cases, they happened before the logical parts of the brain have been fully developed and when bodily hormones are raging. This creates an almost overpowering emotional bond through the release of the chemical oxytocin, which is the same chemical that bonds mothers and their children."
Oxytocin is known for being "the love hormone." It helps bond people closer together, it's what keeps some people monogamous, it can lower your inhibitions, and it can help you become more open and trusting of others.
"First loves are often simple, yet very powerful," Bennett says. Even simple things like hugging, kissing, and cuddling, can chemically bond you to your partner. When it's the first time you've experienced that with someone, it's hard to forget them. But that isn't the only reason why it's hard to forget your first love.
Your Brain Is Wired To Remember And Seek Out Pleasurable Experiences
As Dr. Amy Ricke, psychiatrist with Your Doctors Online, tells Bustle, your first love is unforgettable because of how the brain works and of what falling in love teaches you about yourself.
When you fall in love, a surge of chemicals, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, floods the brain. These "feel good" chemicals can cause you to feel euphoria and intense pleasurable feelings, especially when they're combined with physical touch.
Many times people experience falling in love for the first time during their teenage years. According to Ricke, these are the years when the brain's reward pathway is wired to be particularly sensitive to gratifying and intense experiences like falling in love and having sex.
"Thus the first love experience becomes almost indelibly ingrained in the brain in a very vivid, memorable way," she says. "It's often impossible to forget due to what possibilities this experience awakens in us. We feel an expansion of our own human experience."
Your First Love Affects All Your Relationships After
Once you've experienced something so good as falling in love for the first time, you're likely going to chase after that feeling again and again. It's a big reason for why people get hung up on their first love long after the relationship has ended.
"Since the first love often feels intense, it could lead to someone believing that they loved their first more than others," April Davis, matchmaker and founder of LUMA - Luxury Matchmaking, tells Bustle. They'll long for the intense feelings they had when they were in their past relationship and look for that feeling in everyone they meet after. When they don't find it, they might find themselves looking to rekindle things with their ex.
But according to Davis, your first love isn't always going to be your best or deepest love. "You might have actually loved your second or third love more, but what you remember about the first is that intensity," Davis says. "That could translate to you feeling that you loved that person more in your memory."
Your first love will affect all your relationships after because of what it teaches you. For instance, you'll learn for the first time that you can be wanted and desired. You'll also learn how you want to be treated by another person. When you end the relationship, you'll learn what heartbreak feels like.
"There are so many teaching moments that you come across while in love for the first time," Davis says. "As time goes by with new loves, you can still learn new things, but it's more about tweaking things you already learned."
Just because your first love is hard to forget, it doesn't mean that it's the only true love you'll ever have. For some people it might be. But for others, it's a learning experience. These are just the reasons why that first relationship is so hard to forget.
David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert
Dr. Amy Ricke, psychiatrist with Your Doctors Online
April Davis, matchmaker, founder of LUMA - Luxury Matchmaking