Even if you love your significant other more than anything, you’re still separate people with your own histories, memories, and relationships. And unless you married the first person you dated, your partner is probably not your first love. And that means that at one point in your life, someone else dominated your thoughts and feelings, and probably transformed you in a profound and exciting way.
The fact is, first relationships are often powerful experiences. They can show us what it’s like to be understood on a deep level and to be desired for who we are. Falling in love can be addictive, but eventually, most of us choose a person with whom to build a life. But after you’ve chosen a life partner, is it ever OK to think back on the past? Longingly, even?
“Everyone thinks about their first love sometimes — it was, after all, a first,” Dr. Brian Jory, PhD, author of Cupid on Trial and director of the family studies program at Berry College, told POPSUGAR. “Whether it’s healthy or not depends on the how, how much, and why.”
According to Dr. Jory, it’s very normal to look back with nostalgia on the more carefree times in your life, as long as you’re not stuck on your first relationship. “Dwelling on your first love after you’re married — like thinking about him or her every day — may not be healthy,” he explained. “It may be a sign that you’re avoiding commitment to your spouse — or worse, comparing the experience of carefree infatuation with the rigors of meeting the needs of someone you care about in deeper ways.”
When you look back to your relationship with your first love, is it really the person you loved that you’re missing, or is it the sense of excitement? Is it about the hopefulness you felt about the future as a younger person that had yet to deal with real responsibilities?
In short, it’s one thing to fondly recall a person who once meant a lot to you during a formative time in your life. It’s another thing to pine after someone who is no longer around. If it becomes a problem that you simply cannot shake, it may be time to see a therapist or marriage counselor.
“Nobody ever forgets their first love, but I like to say this about any loves or flings that you want to return to: you broke up for a reason,” Dr. Jory said. “Maybe you’ve forgotten the reason, but more often than not, that reason is still there.”