If you want to find lasting love in your adult life, you have to avoid puppy love altogether, according to a claim in Changing Relationships, a collection of new research papers by Britain’s leading sociologists, edited by Dr. Malcolm Brynin, principal research officer at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. While researching the components of successful long-term relationships, Brynin found that people have a tendency to measure their adult relationships against their first intense relationship, which sets up an unrealistic gauge. “If you had a very passionate first relationship and allow that feeling to become your benchmark for a relationship dynamic, then it becomes inevitable that future, more adult partnerships will seem boring and a disappointment,” he said. However, adults who have calmly and pragmatically assessed what they need from a partnership experience successful long-term relationships. Brynin said the problem arises when someone tries to get everything they need from a relationship, but also strives for the excitement, intensity and sense of euphoria they experienced with their first love. The solution is to protect yourself from an intense first relationship, so you will be happier in your later relationships.
That solution is rather late for those of us who experienced first love half a lifetime ago. Also, I’m not too sure what to make of Brynin’s findings. If someone is actually able to prevent an intense first relationship, there’s a big chance their next relationship will be intense and euphoric because that’s pretty much what young love is about. Young people don’t have to worry about the same things as adults, so spontaneity and uncontrollable passion are what the relationships are based on, not reliability and responsibility. Most first loves end in heartache, so I think more people assess their first relationship and try to figure out what wasn’t right, rather than dwelling on the excitement. [The Observer]