Do you remember your first real love?
I struggle with the answer to this question because sometimes I count the boys I kissed in kindergarten, and sometimes I count the boy I made out with in junior high, and sometimes I count my first real long-term committed relationship that started when I was in high school and ended when I was a junior in college. Regardless, they’re all the ones who got away. (Admittedly, I was a little boy-crazy. Please don’t judge me.)
Now though, in the age of Google and Facebook, we can secretly stalk the people from our past. Some of us do it in good fun, some with legitimate curiosity, and some wind up turning worlds upside down. A few years ago, I mediated a divorce for a couple in their 60s. The wife found her high school boyfriend on Facebook and, guess what? Three months later, she left her husband for the new (old) guy. She felt terrible about hurting her husband, and yet she was thrilled to be reunited with the one who got away.
Obviously, that’s a pretty extreme example. And not the only one. I’m guessing we all know somebody who knows somebody who reconnected with the one who got away. So what is it about an old flame that’s so appealing? Is it the shared history? Is it trust? Unfinished business? Comfort? Closure? Insecurity? Security? I’m asking some legitimate questions here because I really want to know. I have tried a couple of times to reconnect with old boyfriends, and they’ve evidently not been interested. (Their loss.)
The upside is that a new relationship can be born out of an old one. That has to be exciting. The down side is that there might not be room for us in someone else’s life. Maybe too much time has elapsed. And what if the reality doesn’t match up to the fantasy? Either way, when you knock on that door, or when someone knocks on yours, it’s impossible to predict what will happen next. How will the stuff we carry with us affect the relationship? What if your children aren’t supportive? What if he’s allergic to your beloved cat? What if you travel for work and your new person hates being alone? What if she’s vegan? What if he can’t eat spicy food? What if you love jazz and she likes bluegrass? The list can go on and on. I suspect that, when we lead with our hearts, we make the conscious decision to figure out the rest later.
Do you think that a rekindled relationship is a hopeful fantasy or a true realization of what was meant to be?
Which brings me back to thoughts of my client who, decades later, left her husband for her high school sweetheart. I often wonder if she’s happy or if she has regrets. I think I’ll give her a call.
Nancy, this is a very intriguing topic and some great questions. In my opinion, more times than not, the reconnects (desired, attempted, or actual) are fantasies. Fantasies of returning to the passion, youth, finishing unfinished business (closure), etc. It’s even fun (well, ALMOST fun) to think about. Unfortunately, my first true love (high school) committed suicide 20 years ago. I still have dreams of trying to reconnect with him! It’s ALWAYS frustrating, unrequited, unfinished, heartbreaking, and filled with intense yearning. 🙁
Shari, thank you for your insight. I suspect that the reason you still dream about your first true love is because you can no longer reach out to him. I have a similar occurrence in my past. Someday, I hope we can talk about it in person.
An early boy friend who I thought was to be my husband, forever, died at 8 from Leukemia. Another boy came along who could have been a forever, but when at 13 does that ever happen? I imagine sometimes a rekindled relationship with someone I have cared deeply about, but imagination is a much prettier place, ripe with opportunity, than reality it seems. After a horrible divorce, 7 years later, there was a brief interlude of rekindling possible with my ex. The fantasy felt great, but dear heavens, am I grateful I listened to my reality meter and moved away from the pleasures of lust and familiarity.
Ellie, I love your words ” . . . imagination is a much prettier place, ripe with opportunity . . .” So true!
Oh, and by the way, although sex with an ex is fairly common, I think you’re super-smart to listen to your instinct.
Thank you for such insightful comments!
Relationships can become stale after time if both parties do not work at them. I liken it to a car. It comes off the lot new, shiny and exciting to drive then after years of work it just sits in the garage and falls apart until the memories of what it once was get back into your head. Sometimes it is just to much work to fix and you move on to a newer model, new, shiny and exciting. Memories of the past can be exciting but my suggestion is look before you leap. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence until you get there and look back.
I’m not sure whether it’s a compliment if my high school boyfriend compares me to an old car, but I get your point. You make good sense, Jay.