Dear style & substance,

I feel haunted by my “first love” even though I broke up with him. It’s been TWO years and I can’t seem to find that sweet feeling with my new boyfriend. What is it about first love? Can I ever get “that” feeling again?

First love is a brand-new experience of naïve passion and playfulness, gut wrenching when it’s over. Love has been defined by poets, celebrated in song and survived and triumphed over by most human beings. Love, especially first love, is lustful and energetic, and driven by intense desire and need. Remember, first love does not always make sense, so it is hard to pinpoint the highlights and hard to remember the lowlights. Feeling alive, young and carefree are choices that you can still make with the right person.

First love is a force to be reckoned with. What is it about first love that we all seek to recreate? Prior to our first ‘fall’, romantic love had only been read of in books or seen in movies; so it is quite earth-shattering to experience the emotional and physical aspects when we actually do fall in love.

In taking a healthy approach to this question; we believe that it is crucial to have experienced the unconditional love of family first and secondly, the love of self. These two loves are the foundation on which to build a mature love relationship.

Part of first love, is that it helps to develop our self-love, especially if it happens during the teen-young-adult years. It is during this intense, growing, sometimes pain filled time that we are figuring out who we are and what is important to us in a relationship.

All is not lost if you have not experienced unconditional love and/or self-love. You can start with getting to know and accept yourself; physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, all of your strengths and weaknesses. This can be a gentle process if you reflect on it daily through awareness and acceptance.

Continue to move toward unconditionally loving you for you. Arm yourself with a sense of humor and an assurance that most people, even the most confident, are working on and possibly struggling with self-love regularly. It is very personally a “me” process, not a “them” process.

When seeking your next love, begin to change the focus of your question from “Can I get that feeling again?” to “What do I need from a relationship to feel energized, loved and fulfilled?” Remind yourself of the qualities that first attracted you to your new boyfriend. In that process, also remind yourself of the reasons your “first love” and you are no longer together. Does your current relationship bring you closer to self- assurance or self-doubt? What qualities can you not live with and not live without?

Reflecting on your first love is remembering your capacity to feel 100% alive and to truly connect with another person. Use it now as a touchstone to continue to develop your best self.

What you have now may be something closer to true, enduring love and that is contentment. Contentment is not boredom, it is stability, it is commitment, and it is lasting. You may find that adding some different aspects to define this relationship is what it needs to really come alive for you. If you feel you are missing the passion of a first love know that the sweet feeling can return by clarifying what mature love is to you; welcoming openness and honesty and a willingness to connect.

Love doesn’t mean that feelings are never hurt and suffering doesn’t occur. Regularly challenging each other for more is what keeps love relevant, healthy and thriving.

If you and your current boyfriend are to grow and have a life together; this mature and loving relationship should withstand the questions you ask and the answers you seek.

Work toward ‘best love’, where there is enough caring to keep you strong, enough passion and play to keep you interested and enough growth to bring you to abiding and unforgettable love.

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