Do You Ever Stop Missing Your First Love? A Therapist Gets Brutally Honest

First love is written about in songs and romanticized in movies. It's considered the ultimate fairytale, although it doesn’t necessarily work out in the long-term. Many of us have a first love story (some better than others) and remember what it was like the first time our hearts got all fluttery for someone. But what if this person became the one that got away? Do you ever stop missing your first love?

When someone meant so much to you, it’s easy to find yourself trapped in a cycle of longing for them and wishing you could see them again. Especially after a person is gone, we tend to remember the good things and forget all the bad, which isn’t exactly helpful when you’re trying to move on. What’s a hopeless romantic supposed to do here?

Feeling sentimental over a first love is totally normal, Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Elite Daily. “One, it is the first experience with disappointment in the love department, and this can be devastating. Two, if you are highly emotionally sensitive, you may be thinking of the other person simply because they are actually thinking about you!” If you and your partner have always been really in sync, it can be hard to separate your own feelings from theirs right after a breakup.

Rhodes, a licensed psychologist and dating coach, has worked with many couples as they end long-term exclusive relationships, so she understands the emotional burden this can place on both parties. She suggests taking time for yourself to grieve without trying to push through it too fast. “Being kind to yourself throughout the grieving process will shorten the duration in the long term,” she says.

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As hard as you try, it’s impossible to forget a relationship that has had a significant impact on you. And this shouldn’t be your goal! “The real growth and healing happens when you can integrate the experience into your life story, see it for what it was, learn the lessons and be able to wish that other person well,” Rhodes explains. The point isn’t forgetting your love — it’s learning how to incorporate those lessons into your life from now on. What can you take from this relationship that will make you a better partner in the future? How can you learn to love yourself more?

If you find yourself constantly stuck in a thought pattern that is making you feel distracted and sad, it might be a sign of anxious attachment. This means you're seeking approval from your partner and feeling critical and doubtful without their reassurance. It also means you might have been too wrapped up in the relationship and need to take a step back to re-evaluate your life without that person.

Intense romantic relationships take a toll on us emotionally, and it can be difficult to separate our logical feelings from the chemicals running rampant in our brains. “So many of my clients are unaware of the deep energetic ties of such relationships,” Rhodes says. “Sex for sensitive people immerses them into the energy of the other person if they are not careful about their own boundaries.” If you’re truly worried you won’t be able to move on, psychotherapy can be a wonderful healing tool to help you feel ready to move forward.

As far as day-to-day tools, have distractions ready when you find yourself stuck in a sadness rut. “Whenever those thoughts pop up and they are not positive, go to a yoga class, go to therapy, take a bubble bath, and be compassionate with yourself,” Rhodes suggests. “It’s a sign that something needs to be healed and something needs to be learned, but you have to be patient with the process.” Healing isn’t going to happen overnight, but feel confident that you can move past this and you will be better and stronger as a result. Use the breakup as an excuse to really #treatyoself and do more things that bring you joy.

First love is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t have to be a reason for sadness and loss in your life. When the right person comes along, you can start a new relationship feeling complete, thankful and excited to be with someone new. After all, you’re the only person in the world who can make yourself truly happy, so keep that in mind! Allow yourself time and space to feel what you need, then take that experience and make it into a beautiful facet of your life story. Thank u, next.