We all remember the firsts in our lives. Our first day of school, our first day in college, and our first day at work — but out of all the firsts what really sticks in our head is our first love.
But why is first love such a big deal after all?
According to Art Aron, the Psychology professor at the State University of New York, “Our first experience of something is going to be well remembered, more than later experiences. Presumably, there’d be more arousal and excitement, especially if it’s somewhat scary. And falling in love is somewhat scary — you’re afraid you’ll be rejected, you’re afraid you won’t live up to their expectations, afraid they won’t live up to yours. Anxiety is a big part of falling in love, especially the first time.”
First love experience is also magnified in our brain because our brain and bodies are flushed with all the chemicals and love hormones for the first time and the novelty of the experience sticks in our head.
"I think from a biochemical point of view, you are experiencing certain hormones you haven’t felt before. It's like going through puberty; it's physical, it's emotional, it's intellectual. It can even be spiritual for some people," explains dating expert and psychologist Melanie Schilling.
Our first love relationship is also “formative” because it becomes a blueprint for how we define love. It becomes a sort of template against which all our successive relationships are measured.
Whether we get to spend the rest of our lives with our first love or not, these are the beautiful gems of wisdom we can take away from our first love experience:
1. It shows us what it feels like to deeply connect with someone.
Our first love experience shows us what it feels like to deeply connect with someone and what emotional support and intimacy feel like. Regardless of how the relationship ends, it gives us a chance to experience the entire spectrum of all the beautiful emotions that love entails.
2. We learn how to put others before ourselves.
Our first love teaches us to look beyond ourselves and extend ourselves for another. It teaches us what it feels like to love someone unconditionally. It teaches us how to put our ego aside and grow together. These are invaluable lessons that help us in any successive relationships that we form in life.
3. We learn how to communicate and work out our problems.
Our first love is the learning ground where we navigate how to communicate and work out our problems. We get to learn what works and what doesn’t through trial and error. It teaches us how to create a safe and loving space for healthy communication.
4. We realize what we want in a relationship and what our deal breakers are.
Our first relationship helps us to explore ourselves and increases our self-awareness. It helps us to discover our liking and preferences. It makes us realize what we want and value in a relationship and what our absolute deal breakers are. All these learning help us to choose our partners wisely next time.
5. It inspires us to be a better person.
First love has the intensity and a childlike innocence. The sheer magic of first love and companionship makes us want to believe in the goodness of the world. We want to become a better person and give back that love many folds.
6. We understand the difference between infatuation and mature love.
Our first love experience teaches us to differentiate between infatuation and mature love. We realize that love doesn’t mean spending every waking minute together or being co-dependent. It teaches us that the butterflies in the stomach fade away and real love requires work. We learn to embrace honesty, vulnerability, acceptance, companionship and working as a team. We learn that mature love is when two people come together and support each other to become their highest possible version without losing their individuality in the process.
7. We realize we can survive heartache and love again.
There is no denying the fact that the heartbreak after our first love relationship is excruciatingly painful. But we learn to survive the heartache and move on. It teaches us that if we can open up our hearts to love once, we can do it again and wisely next time around.