Falling In Love For The Second Time Feels Different From The First In These 6 Ways
Falling in love for the first time is exhilarating and terrifying all at once. It's such a rush that it often feels short-lived. Whether you remember your first love fondly or with some regrets, chances are you learned a few lessons from the person who initially stole your heart. Dealing with heartbreak is hard, and it can make falling in love for the second time feel much scarier than it was the first time around. Fortunately, though, your second love is often healthier, and you're likely happier having learned valuable lessons from your first romantic experience.
"A lot of people feel that if it's not love at first sight or you don't feel how you felt the first time you fell in love, then it will not work," says Brooke Wise, CEO of Wise Matchmaking. "I have seen couples who know right away that this is the person they are meant to be with, and then I have seen couples where it takes longer for the relationship to blossom. It's hard not to compare relationships past, present, and future, but remember that no two loves are the same."
There are many ways that falling in love for a second time feels different — and potentially better — than the first. Like Wise says, "Our hearts are resilient and you are meant to love again." Here, three experts and three young women share their honest thoughts on the differences, based on their very real experiences.
1. Rather Than Falling Hard And Fast, You Fall Gradually (And Maybe Even More Deeply)
"Oftentimes with your first love, you may fall hard and fast — love at first sight. It can be a product of age, environment, stage of life, or never having [experienced] this indescribable feeling before. It may be intoxicating, captivating; it takes your breath away and sweeps you off of your feet," says Wise.
"The second time around, your feelings may be a bit slower to develop ... You are not so innocent, as you have been in love before and felt all the emotions that go along with it. You are a bit more protective, want to make sure the relationship could work long-term, and you don't want to repeat past mistakes."
While falling in love for a second time might feel different, that doesn't mean that you are any less in love than you were the first time around. In fact, Wise says, "If you are taking your time and moving slower, it may feel more secure and more real as you are trying to evaluate if this person has long-term potential. This is different than your pure first love, where you may have fallen hard, very quickly and then asked questions later."
2. You're More Sure Of What You Want And Need
I've fallen in love twice. Personally, I didn't feel as if one was more exciting than the other — they were exciting in different ways. The first time around, I was 18 and everything about the process of falling in love was so new to me. Part of the fun was figuring out if the jitters, the emotions, and the giddiness was actually love or just an intense crush. The second time around, I was 24. I had been single for a few years and wasn't sure if I'd ever feel so strongly about a person again, so I was really pleasantly surprised to discover that I did!
For me, the biggest difference was that the second time it happened, I felt more sure of myself. By that point, I had six more years of experience with dating and relationships, and I was more confident when it came to identifying what I was feeling. (I also think that my second relationship is far more mature, stable, and satisfying than my first, but that doesn't mean you can't experience that the first time around — I just didn't.)
— Hannah, 25
3. You're Older And Wiser
I was in love with my high school crush, and in love with my first boyfriend. The first time [in high school], it was more childish. It didn't feel real until I fell in love with my boyfriend. The feelings were similar, like I didn't want to fall asleep because I was talking to him, or I would blush every time he would stare at me. He felt the same way, but we never told each other, so we never dated. That's the main difference. With [my first boyfriend] the feelings were the same, but he did reciprocate.
I [have since] learned to be more vocal, to express those feelings. I still feel [my high school crush] is the one that got away. With both guys, I was young, [but] now I'm more mature and more secure.
— Piper*, 23
4. You Know That There Is A Very Real Possibility Of Heartbreak
"The first time around, falling in love is pure joyful optimism. It's rainbows and butterflies and everything rom-coms have taught us. While falling in love for the second time is still wonderful, it can feel much scarier because you know what's really at risk and you have an understanding of the pain that comes with a relationship ending," says Kat Haselkorn, matchmaker at Three Day Rule. "The second time around is just as beautiful (if not more so), but it certainly comes tinged with vulnerability and even some fear."
Falling in love with someone new can feel more real, because in some ways, there is more at stake than with your first love. "You're more vulnerable this time around. You know what the hurt can feel like and yet you're still willing to suffer those consequences on behalf of loving another person," says Haselkorn. "It's almost like, the more knowledge you have going into it, the deeper your love really is."
5. You Make An Effort To Establish Healthier Patterns
I feel like [falling in love for the second time] feels pretty similar [to the first], but you approach it in a healthier way every time.
The first time I believe I was in love was when I was 15. And true to all the stereotypes of young love, I was obsessed with my girlfriend, and thought we would be together a long time, and thought the world would end if we broke up. And to be fair, it was crazy hard when we broke up. But I got over it eventually. So I feel like falling in love again after that ... starts out with you in such a different place, because you know that this likely won't last forever. But you also know you will be OK if it doesn't.
For me, all of the falling in love feelings in my brain and my stomach were pretty much the same. There is still definitely a feeling of obsession. But you just approach the whole thing with a little more confidence that this is not the most important thing to ever happen to you.
— Brianna, 25
6. You're Genuinely Happy, Rather Than Just Infatuated
"I've noticed that women who have been in love before enter into new relationships knowing more about who they are and what they want (and will no longer put up with)," says Pella Weisman, licensed marriage and family therapist and dating coach. "This puts women in a stronger position to have their needs met in a relationship, because they are able to know what their needs are and share these needs with their partner. In my professional and personal opinion, the trade-off of feeling a little less 'high' is totally worth the self-knowledge that comes with some relationship experience."
Romantic comedies and celebrity love stories emphasize things like love at first sight, intense and immediate chemistry, and falling head-over-heels in love. "Those feelings are not the things to look to for guidance in moving forward with a relationship," says Weisman. She explains that it's common to be a bit confused when it comes to what you think you're supposed to feel when you meet a good match.
"The real things to look to are: How do they treat me? Do I feel respected? Do we have shared values? Are we looking for a similar type of relationship at this time? These questions are much more likely to lead you to a happy relationship than the 'high' feeling of falling in love," she says.
You'll likely never forget your first love, but know that you have more great loves in your future — and that is something worth looking forward to.
*Name has been changed.
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