Q: I can’t forget my first love. It has been almost 20 years now but I keep on looking for her in each woman I meet and I date. So far, each one has been a disappointment for me because nobody seems to match what I felt back then. Does it mean I will stay single forever?
Ans: First loves are special, even more so when they don’t last. The bad news is that you will never to be able to feel what you felt the first time. That emotion was unique to that person, to you back then and the context you were surrounded by. The good news is that this will not stop you from feeling something greater, but different. However, it will only happen if you stop holding on to your loss and disappointment.
If you have experienced them for so many years, they are probably something that you faced when growing up, when your emotional reactivity and regulation were still under construction. These feelings are unrelated to the people you have been meeting until now. They are connected to adverse childhood experiences that made you feel this way.
Thinking that there is nobody out there for you or that you will never be in love again are very common thoughts for people who are stuck. Those feeling are stuck within you because they were not addressed with emotionally stable or available adults back then.
You will need to speak to a professional to release yourself from such deep loss and disappointment. We often feel we can do it on our own but in these circumstances, a professional can help you to rebuild trust in relationships.
A good therapeutic relationship will offer you a safe space to explore emotions and to tackle fears of abandonment and rejection. It is the therapeutic relationship itself that will be at the heart of healing from early life relationships. Remember to look for a professional you connect with.
The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual wellbeing (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)
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