First Love

First Love

Statement: A female’s first love experience in her teenage years impacts her long term.

Question: Do you agree or disagree?

Have you noticed that when you speak with women about their first love that they experienced during their teenage years they report not only concrete memories and interactions, but they also express their recollections of what they felt emotionally as though it was yesterday? In addition, most women are able to recall their physiological sensations of their experience with their first love. There are theories as to why one’s first love during one’s teenage years may indeed impact a person long term.

There are theorists that believe bonds are formed biologically for a person in their first love experience. It is these theorists that believe it is hormones that play such a significant role in the feelings about one’s first love. This theory would then perhaps explain why as an adult many women report a physiological reaction when they hear their first love’s name, or hear the sound of their voice. It is as if the physiological experience in one’s teen years has been imprinted into one’s biological response with a forever physiological reactive response. Like the observational study of newly hatched ducklings that follow and become socially bonded to the first moving object that they encounter, the theory of imprinting some would suggest is one possible explanation as to why a teenage girl would remain in an abusive relationship with a male and even marry him and remain with him. This theory could also answer why a female would choose a future mate that is quite similar to her first love even though her relationship with her first love was markedly less then ideal. As with the ducklings, even at maturity, these animals were observed to attempt to court and mate with humans if that is whom they were imprinted to.

In opposition to the above theory of imprinting, there are other theorists that believe it is in the shared upbringing during one’s youth which is what makes a first love so special (e.g., same town, same school). Perhaps this is why there are such warm feelings and a sincere connection reported by many that is hard for some to completely describe why one feels this bond even after so many years. It is this theory of shared upbringing that can serve as an explanation. This theory would then perhaps furthermore suggest that just as one’s first love one may feel strong feelings for even after many years has past, it makes sense why it is so special for old school mates, camp friends, etc., to connect after so many years of not being in contact. It is the shared experience during a time in one’s life of such significant development and intense feelings that those that were an important part of that experience, one always holds a special place in one’s heart.

Which is it? Is it the theory of imprinting or shared upbringing that you believe is the reason why one’s first love has the potential to impact a person long term? Do you even believe that a person is impacted by one’s first love? Perhaps both theories hold significance. Perhaps both theories are right and thus biology plays a role and there is some form of imprinting, as well as the shared environment. Perhaps it is a combination of soarts that plays a role in why a first love experience impacts a person. Whether you believe in the biological theory or the shared upbringing theory, or some other theory not mentioned in today’s blog, regardless of one’s theoretical belief, for many women, one’s first love models for the kind of men that women want to date again, some relationship experts suggest. It is suggested by those same experts that a female’s first love is what drives the expectations for future love experiences. There are other experts that suggest in contrast, it is the first love experience that leads a woman to determine what she does not want in a future relationship. So, which opinion is right?

I do believe that both theories hold significance (i.e., biology and shared upbringing). I also believe that it is the first love relationship that plays a significant role in a woman’s expectations in terms of what she wants and does not want, this is not an ‘either/or’ scenario, rather this is a case of ‘both/and’, meaning, both positions can be right. In working with couples, individuals (i.e., adults, teens/youth), and families for 17 years, it is my contention that one’s first love cannot not affect; a) one’s sense of self, b) one’s expectations of future relationships, c) one’s wants, and d) one’s opinions of what one does not want. How much of this affect of one’s first love on one’s self is in one’s conscious awareness is hard to be quantified. Perhaps it is the women that consider this theory and think about their first love experience, take the time to be aware of their thoughts, have insight into that experience and how it informed their sense of self and relationship choices to date, and can be honest with themselves, can help develop the muscle of true conscious awareness. To understand this impact means awareness of self, to be aware can lead one to feel empowered and make healthy choices based on knowledge and insight. Also, understanding one’s self better is fun, is it not?

The feelings that a woman has for her first love is undeniable. Go ahead and test it out, ask any woman you know who their first love was, and what she remembers. You will observe very special memories and feelings that run deep and are typically quite intense. You shall observe her react with emotion and passion in her dialoguing about her first love experience. You shall discover that what she felt about herself in relationship to her first love, and how she felt he felt about him, did impact future choices, even though she may not have consciously realized it at the time, or perhaps upon thinking back she may recall making comparisons between her first love and other males she encountered. When a woman’s first love betrayed her in some deep way (e.g., cheating, abuse), or if there were serious problems (e.g., substance abuse, suicidal thoughts), it impacts a woman’s self concept and future relationship choices. When a woman’s first love was kind, helpful, attractive, smart and whatever other positive qualities made her feel special in this relationship, that impacts her self concept and future relationship choices.

There are some women that marry their first love, there are some women that wonder what might have been if they ended up with their first love, there are some women that re-unite with their first love after many years of being in different relationships, there are some women that are glad they did not stay with their first love, I have met all of these women and continue to do so. Whatever the outcome is of women and their first love experience, and whatever it is that they may or many not; a) think about in terms of their memories, b) feel emotionally about their recalled experience, and/or c) physiologically experience, the one thing that cannot be denied is that there was an impact of some kind, and their experience remains a part of a woman’s life experience always.

If as a woman you can choose to take the time to self reflect, self introspect, and understand what you experienced and what you felt, as well as understand what you feel now and why, you can grow from your self reflections. If you have a teenage daughter, you can take the time to speak with her and explore with her about what she is feeling. Be understanding and nurturing about the intensity of her emotions. Share with her the theories and concepts addressed in today’s blog and ask her what aspects she agrees with and disagrees with. By having a dialogue of exploration of thoughts, feelings, and opinions, even without having the answers, it is in that conversation that insight occurs.

In conclusion, to understand one’s self is empowerment. It is with awareness and insight and thus empowerment one can make healthy life relationship choices.

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