It’s a question that has plagued humankind for centuries — “do you ever get over your first love?” Some people seem to breeze through life after their first love, while others spend the rest of their lives pining for what could have been.
There is no denying that the first love is often the most intense and passionate kind of love some of us will ever experience. But what happens when that love ends? Can we ever truly get over them?
While heartbreak is never easy, there are ways to get over your first love and move on to something new and even better. Here are experts’ insights to help you through it:
Board Certified Physician-Psychiatrist | Author, “Making Your Crazy Work For You“
“Do you ever get over your first love?” is a loaded question we have to unpack in order to answer. The short answer is “It depends,” wholly unsatisfying because it begs the underlying questions embedded in the anxious and uncertain top-line.
How to get over it
Chill out with friends or catch up on something
If something happens, and we need to “get over it,” it means there is some kind of problem. Otherwise, we would probably be asking about something else or maybe chilling out with friends or catching up on something.
The other thing is that when people tell us to “get over” something or “just get over it,” there is an undercurrent of self-criticism and self-shame — it’s crucial to understand if our own impatience with ourselves is driving the question.
Attend to your relationship with yourselves as part of the process of reflecting
If that’s part of it, it may be important to first attend to our relationship with ourselves as part of the process of reflecting on relationships with others, as they are intertwined and grounded in our own early developmental experiences with our closest caregivers.
On the other hand, maybe there is nothing wrong, but we all know that the first love is something we never forget and would never want to forget, a precious memory to cherish for a lifetime, bittersweet longing (unless you’re still together!) and hopefully not unresolved heartbreak or even trauma.
Learn to live what we don’t want
Assuming “getting over it” suggests a problematic or at least ambivalent element, it’s not good or even bad.
Getting over it, if there is a traumatic or unresolved element, means learning to live what we don’t want, with how things are when reality does not conform to our inner needs.
Maybe we wish we’d never broken up; perhaps we regret the way it went down; maybe we regret how we acted; maybe there are things we would have said or done differently — regardless, what’s done is done.
All we can change is in the present so that when we do get over it, we’ll be in a better place with ourselves and others and able to enjoy healthy relationships.
Come to terms with it
Rather than getting over it, after acceptance and commitment to working through the narrative, meaning, and emotions from first love, we will have “come to terms” with unresolved distress.
Presumably, a grief and recovery process will soften and mature the most painful reactions, confusion, struggle, and perhaps at times, out-of-control thoughts and feelings.
We will then be left with the best possible outcome, a reflective place where whatever happened is part of our story, part of who we are, usually where sadness is a part of the beauty.
If first love ends traumatically, it is possible to recover
If first love ends traumatically, it is possible to recover and find a more adaptive perch from which to approach our own memories and sense of self, as well as to feel safer and more secure with others close to us.
So I wouldn’t say that we ever “get over” our first love — ideally, we come to terms with it and carry the experience with ourselves in the best possible ways.
This requires getting to a place where we can “do the work,” using a growth mindset, tons of compassion, and developing ways of making sense of troubling experiences in new ways.
Kasia Ciszewski, LPC, M.Ed.
Licensed Professional Counselor and Brainspotting Practitioner, My Charleston Therapist
Yes, but you will never forget about it
Any life event and/or person you find valuable will leave a lasting impression on you. The duration of this event and/or relationship may also determine how much influence they may have had on your emotional development.
Experiencing something for the first time is extremely emotional. You’re not just experiencing your “first love,” but you’re also experiencing your first breakup.
You may also be experiencing for the first time:
- Doing certain intimate things together
- Meeting each other’s families
- Dynamic shifts between friends
You may question what it means to be in a committed relationship. You start to discover your love languages and learn how to communicate. You’re no longer putting yourself first and have to consider somebody else’s feelings.
Your brain will refer back to your first love as a template of what to expect in future relationships. You will naturally start comparing any future relationship to this first love story. How your first love treats you may also determine what behaviors you may allow in the future.
If toxic cycles present themselves, they may become your norm. You learn to see this norm and expect it to happen in every future intimate relationship.
Your first love may shape how you view and value yourself.
Of course, it’s important to remember that who we pick as our first love is also insight into who we are as a person. Who we think we should be with is influenced and determined by our environmental surroundings, economic status, cultural values, family dynamics, and belief systems.
Relationship Expert | Published Author, PeopleLooker
It’s totally possible and common
Getting over any relationship can be a difficult undertaking, and it can be especially hard if it’s your first love. It is totally possible, and in fact, common, to get over your first love.
Like many breakups, it can be hard to get over your ex if you’re still constantly spending time with them and talking to them.
There’s no harm in being cordial with your ex once you’ve both had time to heal and move on, but continuing with daily interactions will make it close to impossible to move on.
It’ll be easy to hold out hope for reconciliation if you see someone every day. This includes social media too. Do your best not to check your ex’s page for updates constantly or to try to sniff out if they’ve found someone new.
Related: Why Is the No Contact Rule so Effective?
Do something special to clear your mind
Whether it’s traveling, learning to cook a new meal, or taking workout classes, do something that will relax you. It can be easy to get too much in your head during breakups and only think about how much you miss your first love.
Finding something fun to distract you is a healthy way to think about something else for some time.
Reach out to friends
When you’re consumed with your first love, neglecting some of your friendships can be easy. Rekindle those connections with people who support you. Although you may be without your first romantic love, it can be refreshing to feel platonic love from those who care about you during difficult times.
Don’t give up
When you’re trying to move on from your first love, you may feel like you’ll never find someone who will love you again. Most people have to go through some failed relationships before they find the right one, so keep your head up.
Love can come more than once in a lifetime, and the more you mature and learn yourself, the better your relationship will be.
Real Estate Professional | Investment Advisor | CEO, Cash For Houses
It’s challenging to get over your first love
First loves leave a strong impression on your memory. The time may be long gone, but the memories are still fresh, and it seems like it happened yesterday. You think you have moved on. After all, it happened years ago, but the events are still vivid.
That’s where you realize that a part of your brain still harbors their presence. It’s challenging to get over your first love. Whether it ended badly or mutually, the experience can shape your future relationships and how you approach the opposite sex.
The question, “do you ever get over your first love?” has a yes and no answer. According to experts, the possibility of getting over your first love depends on how the relationship ended and satisfied you are with your current life.
Why you can’t get over your first love
You haven’t been hurt before
There are valid reasons why you can’t ever get over your first love. According to the author of Love Strong, Denna Babul, the person goes all in knowing they haven’t been hurt before.
They love freely because they haven’t experienced pain and disappointment associated with loving, so they are easily vulnerable. So when your first love breaks up with you abruptly, the chances of forgetting them are harder.
The first love is usually experienced during adolescence
Another possible reason is that first love is usually experienced during adolescence — a crucial period of self-discovery filled with passion and emotions.
The brain, at this point, is sensitive to emotionally centered information and tends to store pleasurable memories, which will have a lasting impression. You are more likely to remember the experiences with your first more vividly because the brain’s processing powers are at their apex.
Renowned psychotherapist Dr. LeslieBeth Wish said first loves are part of baby steps toward independence. Because these are your initial steps to becoming you, the experiences are embedded in your brain permanently because they are your firsts — first kiss, first hug, first hangout with the opposite sex, etc.
Many firsts can have a significant impact on your psyche. When you are in love for the first time, especially if physical touch is added, the brain releases neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, which cause you to feel euphoric. Because the brain is wired to remember pleasure, forgetting those euphoric feelings is tough.
You were in a co-dependent relationship with your first love
Furthermore, if you were in a co-dependent relationship with your first love, moving on is difficult. During that phase, you lose some sense of individuality. You have become too attached to them to the point that you feel part of your identity is gone with them.
How to get over your first love
It can feel as if you can’t get over your first love and that it will haunt your love life for the longest time. Your heart skips a beat whenever you reminisce all the moments you shared — how you were swept away by their gestures and the first time you heard them say, “I love you.”
Everything is seen through the petal glass. No matter how many come after, what you experienced with your first love is incomparable. While these memories look as if they can’t be erased, you can still get over them and open a new chapter of love. It will take time and effort.
Based on experts, these are possible ways to get over your first love:
Focus on your current love life
If you are happy in your new love life, you will be more likely to get over your first love. You will be less susceptible to recall them and the romantic feelings.
Ask yourself if the relationship would have survived life’s challenges if it had lasted
Maybe ending the relationship was the best decision, and you never really knew. When you put the relationship into context, you begin to understand that it might not have been impeccable and withstood what life will throw at it later.
Ask yourself what can make you feel better
This is called self-exploration. These questions help you to focus on the present and not dwell on the past:
- Will get a degree in another course help?
- Would changing jobs or relocating make you feel good about yourself?
- Will you allow yourself up for dating help?
You could construct a goodbye letter that you would send to your partner and burn it alongside other items that reminds you of them. Let the tears flow, and you will be happy that you did.
Join social support groups
Join social support groups, whether online or offline. Sometimes, the feelings of our first love rush into our minds in moments of loneliness. Connecting with others makes you feel you aren’t alone and could fill the emptiness you feel.
Getting over your first love is no easy task. It doesn’t take a day to let go — it takes weeks, months, and even a year. However, accepting that the relationship had a massive effect on you is a major step forward.
Of course, you can’t erase your first love, but you can push them down the pecking order in your mind and create room for another person. Because you can’t get over your first love doesn’t mean that’s the only true love you will ever experience. These steps will help you get over your first love.
Hair Stylist and Chief Editor, Hairdo Hairstyle
Getting over your first love is tough but not impossible
Yes. Getting over your first love is tough but not impossible. Your first love leaves a significant impact on your memory, mostly giving you an imprint of how you behave in future love relationships.
Why is it difficult to forget them?
The first love is your first ever real romantic relationship, which sets the pace for future relationships. It was also them that handed you your first heartbreak. It is during adolescence and early adulthood, and the brain encodes more at that time, which makes the first love stick almost forever.
How to deal with them
Limit time thinking about them
While stopping thinking about your first love altogether is difficult, it is easier to distract yourself from limiting the time you think of them. Try to force yourself to stop such thoughts.
Choose a time in the day to think of your first love, write down some of the thoughts to get over the feelings, and try to avoid thinking of them for the rest of the day.
Put the past behind you
Viewing your first love as a stepping stone to your independence can help you get over them. As such, stop creeping into their social media or comparing your current partner to them. See the reality of why you broke up with your first love and get the emotions out.
Peer Support Specialist in the State of California
Love never ends even if the relationship must
If the love ends, it never indeed was love, to begin with, and only a facsimile of love. Often, a first love happens when we do not quite fully grasp who we are as people or what we want in a partner.
It can be painful to leave the relationship, but if you acknowledge the blessings that came from it or the things you learned, it is a bit easier. You know you are in a good place when you can wish each other well and be thankful that you grew by knowing what an unacceptable deal breaker in an intimate relationship is.
Sometimes the process of getting to that positive place is delayed because of the immaturity of the people involved.
Nothing is impossible when you try hard
“First love never dies” is such a silly phrase, not until you experience it yourself. Like despite having new relationships and countless different encounters, a long time has gone by, but still, many people are struggling to move on from their first love.
Having many firsts with them surely leaves an imprint in your system and mind. Every time you’re doing this thing, even with other people, there’s a part of your mind where they keep appearing.
But is it really possible to get over your first love?
Acceptance is the key, and letting go is the only way
It is possible, and nothing is impossible when you try hard. Keep in mind that acceptance is the key, and letting go is the only way.
Instill in your heart that there’s a reason why you’re not for each other, and it’s because you’re meant for something more significant and that you should try fully opening up with other people because you might now know it; maybe they’re just also waiting for you.
Marketing Manager, MCS Rental Software
It is impossible to forget your first love
Your perspective on love and relationships will change after your first love. It is impossible to forget your first love, regardless of how much time has passed or how many other relationships you have had subsequently.
The first time you fall in love with another person is one of the most significant moments of your life. When your feelings for another person fade for the first time, it might seem like a crushing blow.
Years later, you’re not the only one who may still be grappling with the question of “how to move on from a first love?” The experience of your first love leaves an indelible “imprint” on your brain’s sensory networks, making it difficult to forget.
These impressions may be profound and often come with powerful emotions if the corresponding memory is evoked. That’s why memories may be triggered so strongly by things like hearing the music to which you danced or seeing a picture of them crop up on social media.
If you’ve ever experienced the joy of falling in love, you know it’s hard to resist the temptation to seek it out again. It’s a big factor in why so many individuals continue to pine for their first love years after the romance has ended.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is first love, and why is it so significant in people’s lives?
First love is usually described as the initial romantic attachment experienced. It’s often associated with intense, euphoric, and exciting feelings and can be a life-changing experience for many people. First love is significant because it often shapes ‘expectations for future relationships and sets the tone for one’s love life.
How can you tell if you’re truly over your first love?
Everyone goes through a different healing process; there is no set timeline for getting over first love. However, some signs that you may be over your first love include:
• Thoughts of your ex or the relationship no longer consume you.
• You are able to think about the relationship without feeling strong emotions or pain.
• You are able to set healthy boundaries and move forward in your life.
• You are open to new experiences and relationships.
Can you still love someone else after your first love?
Absolutely. Even if your first love holds a special place in your heart, it’s possible to love another person just as deeply, if not more. Falling in love is a complex and multifaceted experience, and each relationship brings its own unique qualities and dynamics.
Is it normal to compare future partners to your first love?
It is not uncommon for people to compare their future partners to their first love. This is especially true if the first love was a significant relationship or ended abruptly or unexpectedly.
However, it’s important to remember that every person and every relationship is unique. Comparing someone to your first love may not be fair or accurate, and it may prevent you from fully appreciating and embracing the present.
How can you use your experience with your first love to help you in future relationships?
Your first love can be a valuable learning experience that can help you navigate future relationships more effectively. Some ways you can use your experience to help you in future relationships include:
Identifying your needs and boundaries: Reflect on what worked and didn’t work in your first love. Use that information to set clear boundaries and communicate your needs in future relationships.
Letting go of limiting beliefs: Recognize any negative beliefs or patterns that may be holding you back from engaging in future relationships and work to let them go.
Honoring your emotions: Acknowledge and honor your emotions when they arise, both positive and negative. This can help you stay in touch with your needs and make healthier choices in your relationships.
Staying open to new experiences: While it’s important to learn from your past, it’s also important to be open to new experiences and people. Keep an open mind and be willing to take risks in your relationships.
Is it possible to have closure with your first love?
Yes, it’s possible to have closure with your first love. Closure is a process where you come to terms with a loss and find a solution or understanding. Some ways you can work towards closure with your first love include:
Talking to your ex: This can help you get closure and understand the reasons for the breakup.
Writing a letter: This can be a cathartic way to express your feelings and find closure.
Practice forgiveness: Forgiving your ex and yourself can be a good way to let go of lingering resentment or anger and find closure.
Creating a symbolic gesture: This may include giving back items or mementos or performing a ritual to help you let go of the past.
Is it possible to still be in love with your first love years later?
It’s possible to still be in love with your first love years later. However, it’s important to realize that love isn’t always enough to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship. It’s possible to love someone and still realize that a relationship may not be the best decision for you. It is important to think about what you really want and need in a relationship and make your decisions based on what is best for you.
Should you tell your current partner about your first love?
Whether or not you choose to share information about your first love with your current partner is a personal decision. While sharing your past experiences can help build trust and intimacy in a relationship, it’s important to consider your partner’s feelings and the potential impact sharing this information may have on your relationship. If you choose to share, be honest and open about your intentions and be prepared for possible reactions.
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