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Found Your First Love on Facebook?

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Great if you're both single. Dangerous if one of you is married.

woman using laptop

Dr. Wendy Walsh: In the last few weeks, three married friends have confided to me that they have searched for, and found, their first love on Facebook. In my small world, this number represents a huge trend, so I'm going out on a limb to guess that this is going on all over the country. I am backed up by a recent article on Time.com that quotes other people who are doing it and who don't live in my neighborhood. So, it's real. But, why is this happening? And how dangerous is it?

The "why" is pretty simple for me to understand. Our first love affair, whether it was consummated or not, was an enormous emotional event. Those powerful memories of young love and sexual arousal stick for life, so the opportunity to revisit those feelings is pretty darn seductive. Add to that the fact that the largest growing group on Facebook is made up of users aged 35-54. While their college-aged counterparts used social networking to find people in other classes, older Facebookers use it to find people in other parts of their memory banks. Case in point: Although I grew up in several cities in Canada and now live in Los Angeles, I am hosting a cocktail party this week for Facebook friends from my elementary, high school, and college years. Some live here now, and some are flying in. None of them know each other. I am the only connection. I'll let you know how that one goes.

As for that finding-the-first-love trend, there's even a name for it. The Boston Phoenix calls it "retrosexuals," meaning people who are opting for recycled love. This is all well and good, if both parties are single. The media is full of stories about divorced people taking a second stab at love with their first fling, but what if there are marriages and vows involved? Oh, yah, that. How dangerous can an innocent e-mail exchange be?

Hugely dangerous. The problem starts when you first hit that "friend request" button. You have betrayed your spouse and are now entering the uncharted waters of an emotional affair. I mean, you're not looking up the geek from eleventh grade who got you through algebra. You're looking up the hot guy you once lost sleep over. There is an emotional connection, with maybe even some sexual memories attached.

The next problem is what to do with him when he answers your cyber call. Do you start an e-mailed, intimate foray into your emotional world? Do you look for ways to meet? What if you keep it "boundaried" and chat lightly about your family and his? Still dangerous, ladies. Even if you and your husband went so far as to invite him and his wife over for drinks, you are still having an affair if your husband doesn't know the full value of your feelings for the man he's handing a beer to.

Besides putting yourself (and your marriage) in the path of a potential affair, looking up an old flame isn't always as rosy as the anecdotes in today's media. All humans change across the lifespan, physically, intellectually, and emotionally. You are two very different people now. The likelihood that sparks will fly in your condo as well as they did behind the bleachers is pretty small. Relationships tend to be time and place sensitive.

So, with all that said, I will now disclose that the only reason I can sit up on this soapbox is because my first love, Carl Brittain, isn't on Facebook. I know, because I already tried to find him.

Play with fire, ladies. Just be prepared to give some business to therapists and divorce attorneys.





next: Should Bad Genes Mean No More Kids?
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Barb September 24, 2009, 6:38 AM

I really don’t agree that it’s betraying my husband to be in contact with old loves. Yes, there are deeper memories there, but there’s also a reason they’re an ex. It has helped build who I am today to have had flames in the past; and just because we’re still in touch, or in touch again after having NOT been in touch for a while, doesn’t mean I’m trying to hook back up with them. It IS possible to just be friends.

ame i. September 24, 2009, 6:58 AM

I suggest to anyone reconnecting with an old flame to be careful.
After I was widowed, the guy I dated in high school during the year I wasn’t dating my late-husband contacted me.
I remembered him as a sweet 16 year old guy.
When we met again, he was bald, fat, and charming. He was also a cocaine addict,recently divorced. I wish my eyes had been open enough to realize he was no longer the sweet boy I remembered.If so, I wouldn’t have lost over $40,000. He was a user, loser, liar, and a thief. He had a fatal heart attack 2 years ago. I hate to admit I’m glad I will never have to see his face again.

Miss Lissy October 24, 2009, 1:27 PM

I think it depends on lot on your age. For example, I am friends with my first love on facebook and have been since before I was even dating my fiancee. We’re close friends and my fiancee knows this. It’s all about intent - if you’re trying to hide anything about your relationship, then it’s wrong. But if your significant other knows that you’re close friends, what does he have to worry about? We’re always so afraid of having an affair that I feel sometimes we can forget that it’s okay to be married and have close friends of the opposite sex. Being married doesn’t mean you stop having friends.

BABYGIRL1 January 22, 2010, 12:32 PM

I DONT AGREE I FOUND MY FIRST LOVE ON FACEBOOK.. I VE BEEN LOOKIN FOR HIM SINCE I WAS 18 AND FINALLY FOUND HIM AT 34..IM VERY MUCH IN LOVE WITH HIM LIKE WHEN I WAS 15. ALSO HE HAS BEEN LOOKIN FOR ME.. HE’S DIVORCED WITH A DAUGHTER AND IM SOOOO SINGLE. ALL I CAN SAY IS GOD PUT HIM BACK IN MY LIFE AT THE RIGHT TIME

Anonymous March 2, 2010, 12:46 PM

OMG I just got out of a one year relationship with my first love , she broke it off. And thats a good thing as we both are in our 50s and have been married for 30 years plus to your spouses .I never cheated before and will never again When we were to gather it was so dynamic and very seductive . But being apart, Texting and sneaking around was slowly destroying my marriage. I’m looking back now and I’m sorry I Went that route.
I wish we were smart enough just to be friends. Maybe that’s not possible. I’m re leaved its over.






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