There is an epidemic of Boomer Divorce.
And I wonder if the fact that we can now quickly answer the question “Whatever became of…” might not be a contributing factor to that burgeoning statistic.
Social Science tells us that people who break up with their high school sweetheart and marry elsewhere are more susceptible to the eventual lure of an affair with their first lover if they are somehow able to reconnect.
Facebook now renders these romantic re-connections as an everyday occurrence. Resilience and a little cognitive schooling on how your brain works might help here. You may need to fix your marriage if you “friend” an old beau back.
Here is the compelling power of first love. If two people fall in love together for the first time, it is an incredibly impactful neurological event that doesn’t fade over the years; it becomes more a part of what I call a “personal mythology.”
To feel the full impact of love lost is to feel a deep and abiding need for repair. There is an iconic quality to the neural net that we fashion around our first love, which is why many otherwise happy, but perhaps bored and curious people try to reconnect with past loves, often to profoundly unexpected, and sometimes tragic results.
The science tells us that the siren song of past, perhaps thwarted love is so compelling that even people with otherwise sincere religious beliefs can end up in profound emotional torment and cheat on their spouse. There is a roller coaster of neurochemistry already in place, ready to be activated by the re-invigoration of a first love.
Love and Limerance
We have a word for the profundity of a first love: Limerance. Science tells us that limerent feelings create a neurological chemical cascade that can make it hard for us to think straight and clarify our values. Thankfully the brain fog of limerence feelings tends to settle down after about 18 months or so. The issue is often, however, how have we fashioned our lives in the interim? What decisions did we make? What help did we get to sort out our values?
Are you Caught in an unexpected first love Triangle?
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Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. using EFT, Gottman Method, and the Developmental Model.