“We’ve been dating for three months now and we decided to get married. But we have a long history. We dated for three years in the past,” Amy explained. “It wasn’t like we hadn’t seen each other in two years or five or even ten. The first time we broke up, I was 21. I’m 44 now. You do the math. Never in a million years did I think that getting back together with your first love years later was possible.”
Amy believed this kind of reunions happened only in Hallmark movies and cheesy romance novels, but she was wrong. Studies show that getting back together with your first love is much less unusual than you may think.
Do First Loves Ever Get Back Together?
Many couples who reunite after years of separation assume that this is a rare occurrence. However, Dr. Nancy Kalish’s study reveals that “rekindled romances are not uncommon, but are simply one of the many ways people find love.”
During her research project Lost & Found Lovers, Dr. Kalish surveyed 1,001 women and men who had reignited an old flame and most of them were each other’s first love. Two-thirds of the participants had gotten back together with their first love from when they were 17 years old or younger.
Amy admits that she was surprised by the results of Dr. Kalish’s research. “When Jim and I got back together, a friend sent me a link to this study and I was shocked by the findings. I was sure that the first lovers were the least likely to reunite because it all happened such a long time ago. Who would have thought they were actually the most likely to get back together.”
Can You Fall Back In Love With Your First Love?
If you feel that you never really left your first love behind, you’re in the same situation as most of Dr. Kalish’s participants who eventually rekindled their first romance. The expert found that most of her participants indicated on their questionnaires that “they had had many lingering questions and loose ends about this particular early romance” throughout life.
Their testimonies reveal that, when they met again, lovers didn’t feel like they were falling back in love but like their feelings for each other had never really died. Many respondents noted that their reunions felt “as if time had stood still.”
Terry and Steve, featured on Today Show, expressed the same sentiment. After being high school sweethearts, they went off to separate colleges, lost touch and married other people. 32 years later, Terry went through a divorce and Steve lost his wife. They got in touch through LinkedIn and, when they finally met, Terry says “it felt like we were picking up where we left off.”
Are Second Chances Real?
According to Dr. Kalish, her respondents’ experiences show that second chances may be not only real but even more intense than the first relationships.
Psychiatrist Martin A. Johnson, M.D., explains that “when the sweethearts separated initially, usually at a young age, the traumas of losing that early love and the need to move on to other partners made it necessary for them to suppress their love. These pent-up longings in the unconscious surface during the rekindled romance, and repressed feelings that surface are usually very strong. As repressed feelings become conscious, people feel a tremendous relief from the anxiety of needing to keep them buried.”
Another major factor that can play in your favor the second time around is the fact that “normal development allows people to become better at solving problems and communicating, and their moral character matures.”
One of Dr. Kalish’s respondent, in his fifties, observed: “I even knew I was wrong at the time, but I couldn’t admit it then. I was a stubborn teenager. The years have confirmed that I blew a good thing with unfounded jealousy due to my own insecurities. Since we broke up back then, I’ve never experienced the same passion or feelings that I had with my Lost Lover. I’ve learned a lot in the meantime. It could have been a good match had I matured faster, mellowed, or “cooled” it – but that’s water under the bridge.”
Can First Love Work Out the Second Time Around?
Among the participants in Lost & Found Lovers study, the success rate for staying together for those who reconnected with their first love was the highest. The staggering 78 per cent found their happily-ever-after.
If you believe all is lost because you’ve been separated from your first love for too long, you may be surprised to hear that one of the couples Dr. Kalish interviewed got back together 63 years after they first broke up.
“We went on to long marriages with other people. Sixty-three years passed, and we were both widowed when we went to our high school reunion. I knew as soon as we saw each other. We got to talking and nothing else mattered.It seemed like something that was destined to happen. We were married on my eightieth birthday. (…) He’s all I ever wanted.”
Internet forums are full of testimonies of couple who got married to their first love after many years of separation. “DH was my first boyfriend when I was 15/16 and he was 17/18. We dated for about 6 months and parted on good terms. We were sporadically in touch and then got together 10 years later. Now been married for 5,” Zamboni says.
Bridget wrote that her cousin “got back with her first love from high school. They are blissfully happy after having been married for decades to other people. Her mother forbade them getting married when they were young due to religious differences.”
Chloe recounted her dad’s experience: “He met this girl when he was 16, she was 14. They got engaged but shortly called it off because he was going into the navy. She was heartbroken. Anyway, 2 wives and 7 kids later dad’s marriage fell apart with my mum. Dad got on Plenty of Fish, the dating website, and look who he found. She had been in an abusive marriage for years and had just gotten out of it. They hit it off straight away. Married now for 3 years. Never seen them so happy. Yes, things change, but you always hold something for your first love. Whether it’s a niggle or a full on in love moment. Another thing as well, during that time of being single he saw a psychic who said he would get back with someone in his teenage years. He thought it was someone else and even contacted them to see that she was happily married. However it wasn’t her. Now I have the best step mummy in the world who has taken me in as her own!”
“My mum got back in touch with her first love after 40+ yrs. They are now married and really happy together,” Moolady1977 wrote.
Not every first love is meant to be forever. But if anyone tells you getting back together with your first love years later is impossible, rest assured they’re wrong.