Falling in love for the first time is a combination of excitement, nerves and naivety all boxed together by an enthralling fear of the unknown.
Some marry their first love and others are very glad they didn’t, but regardless of how that first love came to be or how it ended, they impact all of us, be that positively or negatively.
Dr Nikki Goldstein is a sexologist and relationships expert. She told HuffPost Australia that while falling in love can feel wonderful for some people, for many it can actually represent the possibility of getting hurt and losing a new love.
“If your first love was quite traumatic and there was a lot of hurt involved and drama… it might scar you later on in life and you become a little more hesitant when it comes to getting into relationships and opening up because you are fearful of getting hurt,” Goldstein told HuffPost Australia.
You shouldn’t put all the pressure on one person for your entire happiness, so if you have all these other things in your life, a great sense of your career, your social life, it takes pressure off that one person.
“Some people, they get back up time and time again, but for others, what happens in that first relationship can set them up for the rest of their relationship lives as normal expectations.
“If that [negative experiences] has happened to us in our first love then we will be hesitant that it is going to happen again because we have nothing else to tell us that it won’t and everything to tell us that it will, which is our experience.”
And our own experiences with that first love lend themselves to the age-old habit of comparing one partner to another. Comparison can be both a good and a bad thing, we just have to be very careful when we chose to do it.
“[If you] have been hurt [and it] is something that you are holding on to, what still can happen is that you take that and you associate those behaviours with another partner. Remember that your next partner is not a carbon copy of your last. Don’t go into the relationship thinking that they are going to do exactly what the other person does,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein explained that comparisons can be good when you compare in favour of your current partner, and use bad past experiences with a first love to fully appreciate the happy, respectful relationship you find yourself in.
“You’ve got to draw a line. You don’t want to be in a situation where you can’t stop comparing your ex to your current partner. Not only is it unhealthy, but it can start to affect your current partner and you have got to move on. You can do it to compare the benefits and then drop it.”
Goldstein believes that this comparison can also feed into gender stereotypes, where one experience with a man or a woman can make us think that an ex-partners actions are reflective of a whole gender, not of just one person.
“We tend to think that all men are this and all women are like that and then you start to see similarities between them by linking their genders … we freak out and start to think that ,that person is like the other person. So we are getting insecure and jealous of the things they haven’t done and that is when it is dangerous.”
Our first relationships can also have an impact on our sex lives. Our sexual experiences with past partners, and how the relationships ended, can make us either confident or hesitant lovers.
“When we continually have sex with the same person, things become more intimate and feelings really start to bond and you could actually fall deeper in love with somebody when you are becoming physically intimate.
“So, if you are somewhat guarded and you are still worried about being hurt and you’re worried about being vulnerable, you might actually be holding back in the bedroom.”
So how do we take our experiences with our first true love and turn them into good? It’s all about making sure you have a well balanced life where career, friendships and family relationships are just as important as romantic ones.
“You shouldn’t put all the pressure on one person for your entire happiness, so if you have all these other things in your life, a great sense of your career, your social life, it takes pressure off that one person to make or break your life, so if it doesn’t work out you will have other things that will make you happy.”