There are wonderful lessons to learn from your first love: Be vulnerable. Be open. Be willing to trust.
However, comparing your current relationship to your intense first love is not one of them. Nothing will ever be as intense as your first love, and that’s not a comment on you or your partner.
There are five very clear reasons why your first love was so vibrant, and why it stuck with you for so long. But it’s probably not the reasons you think.
When you first fell in love, vulnerability was okay.
You were pretty convinced this whole “love” thing was something like a unicorn, and you don’t want to let that out of your sight. You think of him/her all the time.
There is essentially no reason to not be vulnerable. This is it. You’ve been waiting for it, and now that you know your love is into you, why would you not express that? It’s only natural, right?
Exciting texts, love notes, and whispering pet names aren’t embarrassing. You haven’t been on the other side of it where after a breakup you essentially melt into the floor with the devastation that can only be described as the most intense pain you’ve felt in your few years on this earth.
Once that happens, just a little foundation of a wall goes up around your heart. It depends on the damage and pain each loss of love causes, but over time — as we grow older — a little more of a self-protective barrier goes up.
Your senses were way more intense in the beginning.
Think of your most recent past relationship. Those first couple of kisses may still be memorable. You recall feeling a bit of excitement, or maybe anxiety.
Think of the first time you ever really experienced physical affection in a consistent way with someone you loved. As a teenager or young adult, the first time you held hands with that person, the first time he/she kissed you. You’d never experienced such glorious mutual feelings.
You realized love is real.
When you fall in love for the first time, it confirms that this magical wonderful thing exists. Two people can have these amazing romantic feelings for one another and it’s just like walking on clouds. It feels like there’s something truly special about what you’re experiencing because until then you just new of love — like some type of urban legend.
But until you’ve seen/experienced it for yourself, it’s just a possibility. As you grow older, you know (at least logically) that there is love around the corner.
You had no reference points.
When you have that first love, you’re still in a peer group where not everyone has experienced (and verbalized it to the world) being in love, adding to the mystic and magic of it all. As time goes on, you hear the stories and experience more loves.
You were missing critical pain.
Now, as we get older and more, shall we say, refined in our relationship preferences, we also become more critical. After all, we are basically signing up to spend time, love, and energy on someone who can potentially hurt us like a past partner, prevent us from meeting someone else, and just plain not meet our needs.
Not to mention, we are aware that a breakup is an eventual possibility and opening up to that type of pain isn’t easy. Being critical also comes with self-awareness. When we are younger, we aren’t sure who we are, we are still changing, and we certainly don’t have a full picture of what our needs are.
As soon as we have standards (birthing criticism of our partner) for a partner, this automatically puts a little bit of a wedge between our once open and vulnerable selves and another person. The free flow of magic is just a little, well… less free-flowing.
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