Do You Ever Forget Your First Love?

I spent a couple of years writing couples’ love stories for a newspaper’s now-discontinued Sunday lifestyle section, and quite a few of them were about reunited first loves, or those who married their high school sweethearts.

Do you ever totally forget your first love? (This excludes of course those who go through a divorce with the said person! Then they remain unforgettable in a truly different fashion!)

The reason first love stories are so compelling to read is that there is something so powerful about a young love experience. Is it because it happens when our hearts are still innocent and pure — before that first inevitable heartbreak? Or is it because once that huge flame dies out, a few warm embers remain to keep the memory aglow?

It’s true, too, that we tend to get even more sentimental as we age, especially about memories of long ago. An unfinished love keeps some allure for many years.

Whatever keeps those tender feelings in play, some long to have that feeling again as evidenced by those who go in search of that first love. With social media around now, it is not difficult to do.

Each time I wrote of a love story, my own first love came to mind. Although we did not end up together, we are still in touch as friends. It is the kind of sentimental friendship you would feel for a best friend from way back when. So many shared experiences make for great fun in reminiscing.

The only thing truly unique about my own story is that I found a soul mate so young — a romanticist like me and a renaissance man, in the middle of a large urban high school in a working-class neighborhood.

Here then is my own story.

When I was a teen, I was a romanticist and a dreamer, longing for someone to cherish me. Money was scarce too and I was surrounded by girls whose families spoiled them with everything money could buy in the ‘60s and early ‘70s.

When I was in eighth grade, I saw the Franco Zeffirelli movie “Romeo & Juliet” with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey at least five times — I paid for it myself! A believer in fairy tales with an irrepressible optimism despite my gloomy circumstances, I knew I was destined for a great and powerful love such as the one I saw on that big screen over and over again. Oh yes, I was a dreamer.

Sometimes dreams come true. I met my prince when I was just 15 years old. In the massive universe of our urban high school, we somehow connected. He was tall (6-foot to my own 5-foot-7) and handsome, funny, smart, and talented. He was shy and old-fashioned in the way he wooed me, beginning with asking me for a date on a postcard where I had to check yes or no in an answer box. He was a grade older and it took a bit of flirting to get his interest. Once I did though, in short order, we fell deeply in love, and in our young hearts and minds we felt we were destined to be written into the great annals of love history like Romeo & Juliet, minus the tragedy.

His white horse was a brand new light blue Pontiac Firebird, and he swooped me off to great adventures on a weekly, and then daily basis in my teenage years. I was with him when I experienced my first of many rock concerts, and saw my first Broadway show. Other firsts for me were experiencing elegant dining, being brought gifts and flowers, and being made to feel like a princess for the first time in my life. We were from different socioeconomic circumstances, and he could afford to spoil me.

Aside from the great fun, the hours of time spent on our mutual love of certain music and slapstick comedy, and the excessive amount of laughter we shared, we nurtured each other’s talents and dreams at a very vulnerable and impressionable time in life. In fact, I was the first to passionately believe in his talent and knew he would become something great.

He expressed his feelings in almost daily love letters and the writing was right out of a romance novel. Both of us have become writers and he has become well-respected in Hollywood in his field. We share a mutual pride in each other’s talents and accomplishments.

I saved his letters in an old box all these years because I just knew he would be famous some day. See the excerpt from one of his actual letters below:

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Mostly though, and I apologize to feminists and the like, but please read on for why: I gained self-confidence when I desperately needed some from someone close to my age. It is sad to say I got it from a romantic relationship, but his opinion of my talent, my intelligence, and my future was just the boost I needed having grown up an awkward-looking, nerdy kid who got teased a lot. He was the very first to bring about my understanding of my own value as a person.

With our immaturity, our young love wasn’t picture perfect. There was jealousy, anger, and hurt along the way. The relationship became volatile with many intoxicating highs, and conversely, devastating lows. A combination of parental pressures and other life forces and ambitions finally broke us up, but somehow we managed to remain friends all throughout these many years despite living many miles apart. My children know this great guy as an honorary “uncle” who always bestowed wonderful treats on them.

The memories I described here stay with me in the most positive and healthy way, because I truly believe they helped form the person I am today. My mature heart, knowing full well where my love priorities are, never felt the urge to run off with him as an adult. Yet, I feel compelled to tenderly keep him among my most treasured friends.

Do you think of your first love or are you with your first love? I would like to hear from you in the comments below!

36 comments

  • I’m still with my same girlfriend from 1963 when we were 14. Together 57 years married 53

  • Closure

    I met my first love (well, maybe my second first love if you count my second grade boyfriend… still in touch with him via Facebook, but I digress) on the Hebrew school bus. There was that weird, comfortable chemistry but little romance. Looking back, I’m not sure he wanted to be tied to a scrawny, flat-chested, unsophisticated girl who was a year younger than he but in the same grade at school, because there were numerous instances of his uncertainty. He hand-delivered an invitation to his Bar Mitzvah, then totally ignored me at the affair. He asked other young ladies to dances and for dates. Our first kiss was a big disappointment for him: he kissed me in the privacy of my basement where the make-out session had every promise of continuing, but he instantly left after the first touch of lips, later saying he didn’t see fireworks (a la Bobby Brady). Me, on the other hand? I couldn’t get over how soft a boy’s lips could be. After his many rebukes, I enthusiastically accepted a date with another boy who sat two seats away in 10th grade homeroom. The rest, as they say, is history; we’ve been married for 47 years. Fist boyfriend and I kept in sporadic touch through the early years of my marriage, and then Nothing. I reached out to him as a member of our high school 25th reunion committee, sending a short, personal note, referencing some of our memories. Nothing. Flash forward to our recent 50th reunion. He unexpectedly was there. I thought Maybe there might be a few first-love sparks, but he was entirely (not surprisingly) self-absorbed and barely acknowledged me. Any bitterlicious memories, any hopes of mention of our relationship instantly evaporated. He is now but a somewhat pleasant blip in my adolescence. Any ephemeral musings of What if we ended up together have dissolved into, What if we ended up together?! Ugh!

  • There is NO reason to think you would’ve been happier-don’t fall into that IF ONLY BULLSHIT!

    • Hi Lee, thanks for writing in and reading the blog. What you mention is NOT what this blog is about, I never think IF ONLY as I am quite happy with my life and especially with my children and grandchildren who bring such never ending joy to me. I am thrilled that my life went in a very different direction, and while I may be sentimental about my past and my first love, it does NOT make me long for him. One can have a sentimental attachment without it feeling like being IN LOVE, which I am not and never will be again with my first love.

  • Hello Arlene,
    I read your blog on ” Do You Ever Forget Your First Love? I really enjoyed your story.

    I met my first love when I was 15 years old in San Diego, California 1989. He was in the Navy and 9 years older that me. My first love found me on Facebook almost a year ago. I have never stopped loving him and he has been looking for me for years. I really feel we have a great story that is still unfolding. We had a baby in October of 1992 that died 3 hrs after he was born and after he was born he could not handle it along with other things he was dealing with and we went our separate ways, and I was left to deal with the grief all by myself with no closure. I did not understand what happened since we had so much fun and we were the best of friends. The pregnancy was his idea, hurt, abandoned, confused and feeling rejected I turned to drug and alcohol abuse. All that is behind me and I have chosen to forgive.
    There is so much to our story that everyone keeps telling me that its sound like a move or love story in a book. I am not a writer and would like some advice on how to start.

    Thank you so much for you time.

  • Hello, this blog it’s already posted for a while. I wanted to xomment because i really want your respond actually, i never have any love or in a relationship before, i never bother to think about that until i came across your blog. And you are a very lucky women who have a very nice friend. I used to think that love is very impossible for me to felt it, many of my friends already have their own partner. I think i never find that one person that will be by my side and love. I mean, is it possible? So far no one have any intention to take an interest of me, is it really possible that one person will truly loves me just like your first love?

    Thank you for the sharing about your experience and sorry if there were some words wrong in my comment, english is not my first language 🙂

  • Thanks for all the postings and info on first loves. I’ve been reading on this subject avidly as I’m considering contacting my lost love of over 40 years ago. My story is a bit different than the ones I’ve read- I’ve come to the conclusion that my first love really and truly was the right man for me, only after years of failed relationships, a failed marriage and divorce, a longstanding relationship with a guy who was a pathological liar and pothead. All the while what I was really searching for was my first love and using that relationship as the ‘gold standard’ for all others. Needless to say, none even came close and I discovered I was trying to attribute my first love’s attributes to others who could not and did not hold a candle to him. In retrospect I think I knew all along he was the one and chose to bury it, deny it to maintain distance. He was 16 and I, 15 and we had somehting really special together, but I made up an excuse to end it as it was getting way too hot and heavy, leading to problems not well accepted in that day and age. Of course I wasn’t about to talk to him since that sort of thing was taboo back then, and I did not have parents that were easy to talk to. So I let him go. That choice was the beginning of the end- choosing wrong men every step of the way but those experiences have led me to think about my first love and how right we were together. I’ve not seen or heard from him in over 40 years, he may still have bad feelings about how I let him go, or decided I wasn’t worth thinking about. Who knows, I’ll just have to leave the expectations alone and let the universe do what it sees best.

  • My first love came back to me after 30 years. He has searched for me last five years. We are now in our 50,s. I was heartbroken when we split up. Also according to my diary. (Poems) Was not our time then. Is it now? Hope so. Couldn’t write this story…. We are now very much in love. Planning a new life together……….

  • Hi, I found this article and although it’s been written a while ago I thought I would leave a comment anyway.
    I think it’s interesting about first love and I never thought I would be now 33 years old and engaged to mine after we parted ways in our teenage years for him to go join the military and I went on to being married and then divorcing. We lost contact and after reuniting 14 years later we have been together ever since. It was surreal and felt perfect from the first moment we met to see each other after years of being apart. He loves me to bits and I do him. I am so glad we got to find each other again and to spend the rest of our adult life together. Maybe it’s my fairy tale coming true and I know everyone’s situation is different regarding first loves but for the first time in my life I have never been so content and happy with someone.

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  • Hi I am so thrilled I found your blog, I really found you by error, while I was looking on Digg for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just
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  • I just found this article, so beautiful. Two years ago I received a text from my first love, first best friend whom I haven’t seen in 34 years. It was with this friend that I was my most true self. As you mention we inspired eachother & trusted we’d be sharing that together. Something happened and we weren’t allowed to see each other. We had eventually each joined a different branch of the military. No internet, cell phones or reliable mail back then. I had looked for him for years if only to learn the truth.

    In current time we quickly discovered that the confused ending to our relationship had hurt us both deeply. So much so that it impacted adult decisions. It was nearly a year before we could stand to talk on the phone. It is difficult to process that such emotion is so enduring. We have also discovered that our family & friends had not been truthful years ago and that is a present day issue to process. This hurt is different. In our adult friendship we have decided to work through these things to help with the torment that we both experienced since that time. It has not been an easy journey. I cherish not only the past friendship but what we are able to have now. I think we have one photo, which makes us laugh. I am thankful that I have a husband (whom I adore) that realizes how important this is to me.

    • Hi Anne, I have a similar story as yours, however I was never in love with my husband of 22 years and after 7 years of holding my first love as a dear friend through the phone, we finally met and fell in love all over again and got into a very intimate relationship that is putting my mariage at serious risk. do you run such risk?

      • Interesting question and I think that only happens when there has been a long separation and unresolved feelings. (or current unhappiness) Definitely not in my case.

        • my first love was unresolved and we went our separate ways due to families incompatibility, but never stopped thinking of each other for 20 years till we started connecting via social media few years ago, and now we met on the 9th cloud. Should i leave my husband whom I befriended but never loved for the love of my life??? I am tormented choosing between steady boring life and risky passionate one.. help

    • Thanks Anne, usually respond to comments more quickly. Appreciate your taking the time to write.

  • My brother recommended I would possibly like this website. He used to be totally right. This put up actually made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  • Remarkable issues here. I am very glad to peer your post. Thanks so much and I am having a look ahead to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  • Just sitting here for a few minutes savoring your blog. Arlene, you are such a lucky girl.

  • Very cute and, as always, interesting reading. But, for whatever it’s worth, Gary looks much better today!

  • Very sweet, Arlene! He wrote very mature words for a high school boy!

    I never had a boyfriend in high school, didn’t go to either prom. I remember at the first NE reunion, a couple guys told me, they wanted to ask me out but was afraid I would say no.

    Other than my husband, I don’t think anyone ever wrote me any notes, etc..

  • what a heart-warming blog, so close to Valentine’s Day. I never saved a single photo or letter, but then again, I was never the recipient of such sentiment..only the giver. Maybe some guy out there actually saved some of my buried treasures…it would be heavenly to uncover them!

  • I am so impressed by how you manage to keep so many people from your past life a part of your present one. I tend to be the sort who breaks things off dramatically and for good, from friends, to lovers, to former bosses. Your way is better.

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