The moment you realize that you're in love can really be the best feeling ever. It can make you feel powerful, motivated, and maybe even like you want to shout "Yaassss!" from the rooftops — especially when you're in love for the very first time. But what if your partner has been in love before? Does it mean anything about your relationship?
You'll never forget your first love, and it's nice to be someone's else's first, but it's not everything. I spoke with a relationship expert who helped me get a better understanding about what it means if you're not your partner's first love, but they are yours.
According to Alexandra Solomon, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, staff therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, and author of Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want, "it means no more and no less than you want it to. It is simply the truth of your relationship. It is just a fact." So, while it's easy to catch yourself overthinking the fact that your partner was in love with someone previously, it won't necessarily have any real implications for your current situation. But what should you do if it makes you feel self-conscious in the relationship?
If it bugs you, try to refocus your attention on how grateful you are to be in a loving relationship and how good it feels to be experiencing it for the first time. If you can't get past the fact that you aren't your SO's first love, Solomon recommends taking a step back and thinking about why it makes you feel so anxious. "Pay attention to the story that you map onto that fact and ... the story that your partner maps onto it," she says. Instead of creating a narrative in which their previous relationship means anything about your current love story, she suggests refocusing your thoughts to something like this: "I am not their first love, [but] I am so excited to explore the beauty and challenge of a relationship with them. I have no idea how this experience will play out between us, but I trust us to find our way."
Are you making yourself feel a little insecure by dwelling over the situation? Feelings of doubt and insecurity are completely normal, especially toward the beginning of a relationship. "Instead of beating yourself up for feeling self-conscious," Solomon says to take a minute and think about what your inner monologue is really telling you. "What is your self-consciousness saying?" When you evaluate the doubts running through your head, you might be able to look at the situation a bit more practically. As Solomon mentioned, your partner's history with the L word doesn't hold any deeper meaning than what you're giving it. Try to go easy on yourself and remember that your boo is choosing to be with you. This is your first time being in love — there's no rule book about how to feel, and no one expects you to be an expert at it, so don't be too hard on yourself. Also, your relationship with bae is completely different than what they had with their ex. Comparing the two is like apples and oranges.
Although it's probably easier said than done, it's worth trying to let go of the fear that either of your dating histories or difference of experiences will have any negative connotations. If you still can't let it go, Solomon says that "it might also be helpful to talk with your partner about your self-consciousness. Ask them how they feel about" the fact that they've been in love before you. A simple conversation might provide you with the reassurance you're looking for.
When any of these insecure thoughts pop up in your head, Solomon says that the best thing to do is "redirect your attention to the present moment. Because, guess what? You are the person who gets to share this moment with them! Let go, and savor what is right here, right now."
If your SO's relationship with their ex is truly over, you have nothing to fear. A person's first love won't necessarily be their greatest love. Remember that their relationship didn't work out for a reason. We all have different experiences and pasts — it's just a part of life, and that's completely OK. In fact, what we learn from previous romances often helps us have better relationships later in life. Try to enjoy the experience of falling in love with your boo. They love you too — and that's all that matters.