Do You Ever Forget Your First Love?
Dear Monica, I dated a man for many years whom I decided not to marry. Although I am not in love with him anymore, I continue to care about him. He was my first love and I still have these “love aches.” I’m wondering: Will that feeling ever go away? — D. G., Paoli
Your first love should always hold a special place in your heart. The fact that you feel “love aches” only shows that you are capable of having a deep relationship. Thinking about him is a good thing. This means that the relationship had many positives that you want to treasure. Thankfully, you were clear-headed enough to know that he was not the one for you even though you were in love with him. Yes, you may want the connection of being in a close relationship, but don’t idealize what you had with him and long for that. In pursuing a future mate, remember all the wonderful qualities that you adored in your first love, while adding to the mix what was missing. Here are signs that would indicate if you are truly over him and ways to help you along the way.
- You are daydreaming about your ex when you’re with other men. Although it is normal to think about him, it certainly should not overtake your everyday life and your ability to meet others. Try to focus on the unique qualities and characteristics of the new man you are with. (You could also mentally paste in Bradley Cooper’s face over your ex’s as you daydream.)
- You cry at every love song on the radio. This is fine in the beginning, but from now on listen to 102.1 FM. Definitely avoid sappy chick flicks as well.
- You find yourself still looking at pictures of you as a couple and re-reading Valentine and birthday cards. If this is something you are doing frequently, you need to put all cards, presents and photos in a box in your closet and vow not to open it. If this becomes too difficult, you need to muster up the strength to throw the box out.
- You start comparing every date to your ex. Take the time to make a list of all of the positive and negative feelings that you had throughout the relationship. Chances are that the negatives will outweigh the positives. Hopefully this exercise will help reinforce your decision of breaking up.
- Everywhere you look reminds you of him. Yes, there will be memories to your left and right. Stay away from your favorite restaurants, movie theaters, and other venues that you frequented as a couple (at least for a little while). There is no reason to have these painful memories be triggered all of the time. Eventually, you will be able to return to the places you enjoyed with your ex without needing a tissue. It may sound cliché, but it is true: Time is the best healer.
You should always remember your first love, and if it aches a little when you do that is okay. Unless things ended very badly, there is no reason not to think of him fondly. The tricky part is to move on with a smile on your face and a sense of ease that you made the right decision. Take what you have learned from the experience of being with your first love and apply these insights as you meet future men. You had something wonderful and special and for this you are truly lucky. Know that going forward, you will find all the good things you had and more.
Monica Mandell, Ph.D. is the Director of the Philadelphia office of Selective Search, the premiere (off-line) upscale matchmaking firm for the most eligible singles. Please send your questions to: [email protected]