First loves are wonderful, exciting, passionate and confusing. Whether or not they last, first loves have a sweetness all their own. Learn how to spot first love at any age and when it's time to let go.
The Bloom of Youth
For many of us, first love happens when we're in our teens. We've only just discovered these feelings, and we're thrilled by the idea of romance. Sex is something brand new, too, waiting to be explored. It seems that the whole world is ahead of us.
Young love is about passion, energy, even rebellion - think Romeo and Juliet. Sometimes, we don't even know the other person very well: we're both caught up in the idea of being in love. The luckiest couples do become fast friends as well as lovers. Many a happy marriage began with a young first love.
Older First Loves
Not everyone meets their first love when they're young, though. If you've never felt that rush of passion, don't worry. It can take years, even most of a lifetime, to connect with the person who will become your first love. There are stories of people in their 70's falling in love-real, true love-for the very first time.
Knowing When It's True
Whether you're 18 or 80, you'll want to be sure it's love before you make a commitment to another person. People who are happily married will tell you, "When it's real, you just know." But that doesn't help if you're in love for the first time and feeling confused about whether you have a future together.
How do you know when love is true? Look for these elements of a healthy relationship:
- You actually like each other. Physical attraction is wonderful, but true love means you have fun together outside the bedroom, too.
- You respect each other. You don't belittle each others' opinions or choices or careers.
- You help each other. You each bring soup when the other is sick. If one person cooks dinner, the other washes the dishes.
- You're equals. You might have different strengths and talents, but each of you admires and respects the other.
- You trust each other. You're both honest about money, about friendships, and about what you want out of life. True love doesn't have secrets.
- You know you can rely on each other. Long-term love survives through illnesses, relocations, job losses, and every other type of stress because the people involved make a commitment to stay together.
When to Let Go
One of the problems with first love is that it can seem like it will never happen again. Even if the relationship isn't going well, it's tempting to stay together. You might both worry that you will never again meet anyone who makes you feel such passion. People with more experience of love know that this isn't true. You can fall in love again. It might even be better the next time. As you learn more about yourself and what you want out of a relationship, you have more to offer. First loves are sometimes the best ones, but they don't have to be. When should you let go of a first love? It's a very personal decision, and no one can make it for you. Here are some reasons why it might be time to move on.
- You have different goals. Especially when you're young, you're still figuring out what you want out of life. Sometimes, as lovers grow in their own lives, they also grow apart. If you won't be happy unless you move to the big city, and all he wants is to raise a family in your small town, it might be time to let go.
- You fight all the time. The beautiful feelings of first loves sometimes turn into great big messes once the lovers spend more time together. Fighting all the time is a signal that it's time to re-evaluate. Can you learn to communicate better? Or would you be happier on your own?
- You've drifted apart. Hanging on to a first love can mean being in a long-distance relationship. If you're young you might be at different colleges, or jobs might take you to different places. As time goes by, you might find that you have less and less in common. It can be healthier to open yourself up to meeting someone who fits into your new life.