Are You Stuck On Your First Love?

When I think of my first love — a guy I was hot for all through college and finally hooked up with in my last semester of school — I feel mostly relief our affair was relatively brief (about 10 months). There were some sweet moments in our relationship (dancing to Nina Simone in my living room, brewing our first batch of plum beer together, camping under the stars), but certainly not enough to sustain a life together, like he wanted. Thankfully, I was smart enough at 22 to suggest taking things slowly when he thought we should run off to a mountaintop in Colorado and get married “right away.” In the 10 years since we broke up, I’ve dated lots, have had several serious boyfriends, and got married to a wonderful man. That old boyfriend has had little, if any, impact on my love life since I last spoke to him a decade ago. Apparently, however, moving on past my first love makes me a bit of a rarity. According to Dr. Malcolm Brynin, principal research officer at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, first serious relationships are often “so idealized, they set up unrealistic benchmarks for subsequent relationships.” Dr. David Nias, a clinical psychologist at the University of London, echoes this sentiment, explaining that this kind of attachment is related to “imprinting,” the “psychological theory that we attach ourselves strongly to the first people we have certain relationships with.” Dr. Nias argues that the same kind of imprinting we experience with our mothers in childhood, we experience with our first loves, and that that often results in “lifelong attachments.”

Hm, really? Do you think this is true? I don’t know anyone who is currently involved with — or attached to — his or her first love, but maybe the people in my social circle are all unsentimental jerks or something. What about you? Do you feel attached to your first love? Has that relationship, idealized or not, made it difficult for you to love again? Do you find yourself reminiscing a lot, or comparing potential dates to that first person who set your heart aflutter? Or do you think these doctors’ arguments are bogus and that your first serious relationship has little, if anything, to do with the person you are and the relationships you have today? [via The Guardian]