General Question

Trustinglife's avatar

How could I get over comparing all potential girlfriends to my first love?

Asked by Trustinglife (6623points) March 24th, 2009

I’m embarrassed that I have this question, but I do. I’m 28, and no woman has ever come close to comparing to my first love from 16. We gave it a shot again a couple years ago and were together for a year, and she broke it off.

I’d love some advice on how to open myself to new women without comparing them to this impossibly high standard?

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27 Answers

Allie's avatar

I think people will always feel something for their first love. That’s normal.
Realize that all people are different. Open yourself up to the fact that even though they may not be your first love they can be your second, or third… whatever.
There will be different things you can love a person for. While another woman might not have all the qualities of your first love, she will have her own special things about her that make her who she is. Hopefully, you can accept them and love her for her, not because she’s like your first love.
Hope this helped. =]

Sners's avatar

Are you still talking with her?

Trustinglife's avatar

@Allie, true, true, true. Of course. I’ve been in several relationships since then. It has been 12 years, after all. One of those relationships was a long one (2+ years). I’ve found ways of loving these women for who they are – of course.

It’s just that I was so in love (and still am?) that I’m not really allowing these women in, where I’m not allowing myself to love them completely.

@Sners, I’m not really talking with her, no. In fact, after we broke up, she and my best friend got together and are still together. That’s another traumatic story, but I had this question before that incident, and I have this question after the incident, which is why I didn’t mention it earlier. So no, I’m not talking with her, although I’m starting to talk again with my former best friend.

steve6's avatar

Do you think about her when you are “with” other women?

Sners's avatar

Refrain from being so naive as to believe that you will never love anyone as much as your first love.

delirium's avatar

The first love is different. It’s got a magical quality to it that no relationship after can have. Perhaps its because you understand betrayal first hand. Perhaps it’s because you can’t let yourself fall as completely in to a romance as you get older.

My experience and response to your position was to just understand that nothing will ever likely meet that all consuming adoration that I had with him. That doesn’t mean, however, you can’t reference the good things that you learned from it (meaning the first relationship) later.

Perhaps we’d all be better people if we let go of all of our inhibitions and scars about love.

It’s worth a try.

delirium's avatar

I should give some credit to my mother for this one. After he completely broke my heart and I was trying to ‘get back out there’ she sat me down and explained that it was okay for the first one to be Special. That I shouldn’t expect anything to live up to it, and that I should try to avoid comparing anyone to How It Was With Him.

Trustinglife's avatar

Thanks Del. Good to see you again – I was glad to see you were responding to my q. Can you say more about what you mean about letting go of inhibitions and scars about love? Didn’t get that part.

delirium's avatar

I guess what I mean is to let go of everything that’s holding us back from just diving in headfirst and relishing in the experience. Forget that it might not work. Forget that they might break your heart. Drop all the guards.
Maybe that’s what makes the first love different. If we can truly open ourselves to the possibilities… perhaps we can regain that initial (first-love) magic.

That help clear it up?

Trustinglife's avatar

Yes, clear, and yes, helpful.

delirium's avatar

Just know that you’re not alone. Concentrate on the ‘being in love’ instead of the ‘what is love supposed to be’.

I honestly just consider them to be different things. A first of anything is always magical, but raw. Practice improves everything, and this applies to relationships as well.

Banish the thought of the comparison whenever it comes to mind. It’s not ever helpful, and is probably more than a little self destructive. (That’s what I do, at least, when it drags in its doubts and baggage and tries to set up shop in the back of my mind.)

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@delirium, Lurve to you mom for such good advice. Each relationship is like a snapshot. If you go back to the place where the picture was taken, the experience of the day will never be the same as in any of the other pictures, even though the location is the same. And you can never recreate that day, because the fates had a hand in creating the memories. But it doesn’t mean the place is any less special. Does that make sense, Adam?

The harder you try to find someone who is like your first love, the less satisfied you will be with the relationship.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

You have to move on. In your mind, your first relationship still occupies a lot of your mindspace. If you could try to resolve the issue within yourself that led to the demise of that relationship, you’ll realise eventually that all relationships are not comparable. The key is just to live (in your head) in your most current situation, and make the most of it.

psyla's avatar

What you’re doing is a sign of OCD. You’re obsessive & there’s no escape from it. Continue to compare all women to your 1st girlfriend. It’s just the way you are.

Do you also have “collections” of things?

Do you spend much time thinking about your life?

These are less obvious signs of OCD. Obsessing about your first love is an obvious sign. Maybe you’ll outgrow OCD as you learn to worry less & think about yourself less.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

@psyla I don’t think it’s an indication of OCD. More likely to be an over-zealous attachment to an unattainable love object, maybe related to some past attachment issues.

psyla's avatar

That description is actually an excellent definition of OCD. We’re all a little bit obsessive at times, it’s a natural human condition. It’s not considered a psychosis until it reaches an extreme degree.

psyla's avatar

delirium’s going to say that I’m an idiot again.

delirium's avatar

Psyla, I mean this in the nicest way, but that is honestly some of the rudest advice I’ve heard in a long time. Just because someone pines for a lost love from time to time doesn’t make them hopeless or a clinical case.
You seem to be seriously underestimating Trustinglife.

psyla's avatar

No, I’m just warning not to let it get out of hand & thank you for being kind, my friend.

juniper's avatar

I don’t think we ever really “get over” someone we truly loved. This is just my humble opinion, but it seems that love so strong stays with a person. Maybe you will always love this woman a little; maybe that feeling will linger for a very long time.

This has been my small but striking experience. When my friends tell me to “let go” or “get over him” I only know that they do not understand the intensity and truth of my feelings. “Letting go” seemed impossible, and considering it left me confused and unable to have any decent relationships. But realizing that still loving this person wasn’t a weakness or a fault helped me to clear my heart. Most of it, anyway.

So, while my answer might not seem inspirational, I think it should be. Allow yourself to honor this woman who has made such a deep impression on you, and then put those feelings away. Don’t rid yourself of them, just fold them carefully.

Sners's avatar

I doubt getting back together with her an extra time helped you. It could have brought you right back at square one. Ask anyone about their first loves and many will remember how difficult it was to get over them, yet will also admit that they had found greater loves in their lifetime.

Also, stalking is out of bounds.

hug_of_war's avatar

I rarely think of my ex-boyfriend. I have neither positive nor negative feelings towards him anymore, and we had a messy breakup. He’s this person who was really important in my life for a time, but you just have to move on. I don’t love him at all now. I don’t think you have to always have feelings for your first love. You need to understand that people change, and you have and will too.

marinelife's avatar

This may sound a little harsh, but this is your life we are talking about. Clearly, you have idealized her.

What you need to do is make a list of character flaws or behavior problems she had. Add bad memories of your time together. Did she ever put you down? Say cruel things? List them all.

Then, when the old tape of the idealized her starts up, especially when you are running it against a real women in the present, counter it with the list of bad things she did and unhappy memories.

There will time enough to remember her fondly. Right now, you have to fight for the new relationship that you deserve.

Good luck.

@Trustinglife BTW, how is the hamstring these days?

Trustinglife's avatar

@Marina I’ll have to consider taking those negative experiences more seriously. Good point.
@Delirium, thanks for standing up for me, and making sure I’m not underestimated!
@Alfreda, thank you!
@Psyla, yes, um, I don’t need a warning about being OCD. Thanks.
@Junpier, I LOVE what you wrote. That’s what I’m going to do – tuck away my memory and my experiences in my heart and keep them safe. Not to idealize her, but to honor the depth and power of my experience. To recognize that I may never feel that way again, and that’s ok, and I can let go of the expectation that I will ever feel that way again. Of course I might, but to hold that as the standard, the high bar for a relationship… I think I’ll let that go now.

Thank you all.

Blondesjon's avatar

Picture your first love with a penis.

fireside's avatar

@Blondesjon – you’re on a roll today

Turtle's avatar

I can relate a little to this question. None of my relationships since my first boyfriend at 19 years old for 4 years has felt as natural. I experienced alot of regret over the years since I initiated the breakup and just wasn’t emotionally mature enough at the time to know what I had – I had nothing to compare to then. He had the foresight at the time and said that it was a shame I had never been out with anyone else as it was the only reason.

I am still close friends with him and our mutual friends find it amusing that we have never talked about our relationships with other people. He finds talk of emotional things uncomfortable and so we have never discussed it since…although it would be good for me to do so one day I think.

It’s 9 years since breaking up and I have let go of any attachment and developed a healthy love for him. I know he will always have a special place in my heart and that is the most important thing. It’s a nice thing to have.

I just have to trust that everything is happening as it should when I get frustrated over the difficulties in other relationships

Something I heard once is that at the end of the day, remember that True Love is not something you just feel, but something you give unselfishly expecting nothing in return…like a present. If it comes back that is wonderful, if it doesn’t you just keep doing it anyway :-)

I think if we detach a little from our expectations, thinking someone else should make us feel a certain way and love ourselves more, relationships happen easier.

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