One of the affair scenarios we see quite frequently is when a person has an affair with a “first love.” Typically, it’s their high school or college sweetheart from many years ago.
I’m assuming that they reconnect most of the time through sites like Facebook or other similar community sites, but I suppose it can happen in other ways just as easily.
It may start with a curious reaching out by one of the persons to touch base and “catch up” on things. They reminisce about the past and the good times they had. It soon morphs into discussions about how unhappy they are in their marriages and in their current lives and that they both wish that they never would have broken up those many years ago.
Before you know it they are involved in either an emotional or physical affair.
It’s true that there’s a certain power to young love and especially one’s “first love,” that it makes a permanent impression on us – especially if it was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, many people preserve a fantasy image of that special first love and elevate it to some magical place in their hearts and minds.
Little do they realize that these feelings that result from this turning back of the clock are only associated to a memory of a person as they were 20 or 30 years ago – not as that person really is today. We all change dramatically over time and in many respects we’re not the same people we were when we were in high school.
To illustrate (sort of)…I graduated from high school in 1979 and about 3 years ago began an annual tradition where me and a bunch of buddies get together for a day of golf, a major league baseball game, and then we hit the bars for several hours until about 4 or 5 in the morning. We were all best of friends in high school and used to hang out on a daily basis back in the day, but now we all live in different cities.
We have a relationship where we can pretty much just pick things up where we left off as if we just saw each other yesterday. It’s a great relationship that I think is unique in many respects. That being said (and notwithstanding the excessive alcohol consumption and lack of sleep), one day together once a year is about all I can take of these guys. I love them like brothers, but I’m different now. They’re different. We all have our own lives and I seriously doubt we would hang out much even if we all lived in the same city.
I know that this has nothing to do with affairs, but I think you get the idea of what I’m trying to say.
An affair with a first love…fantasy or reality?
In the “first love” affair, these people come back together later in life and they try to pick up where they left off in their feelings for each other. However, they don’t realize that it’s the timing and the situation that have recreated this new flush of love. Much like the crazy fun times my buddies and I have when we get together each year.
If people reconnect (and stay reconnected for many years), the relationship cannot sustain the excitement and specialness that is inherent when it is new and fresh. That love they had as teenage sweethearts is not the same as the love that develops through building a life together and working through the challenges that life tends to dish out.
That teenage love was just the first stage of romantic love which either changes over time or it fades away and dies.
So while it may be tempting to desire the fantasy of young love, it’s important to understand that the reality of being married, raising kids, and facing all of life’s challenges together is the basis for real, lasting love.
Therefore, comparing the immature, fairy-tale representation based on teenage love with real-life married love over a period of years is not reasonable. The specialness of the “first love” was in the experience itself, not necessarily the person with whom it was shared – who is now a completely different person.
I’m not saying that one should forget their first love, but it is important to put it in its proper perspective. It was just a stepping-stone to growing up and ultimately experiencing real love based on making a life together.
To some degree, it’s common for many people to never quite get over their feelings for their first love. That’s OK – it was a very special experience. The problem comes when they allow the memory of the past (and the fantasy of a possible future) to interfere on the present in such a way as to jeopardize the lives they have now.
From experience I know that a good marriage is a great blessing that is not to be taken lightly or put at risk because of such fantasies.