They lived, each on their side, marriages, divorces and idyllic connections without tomorrow. But Jennifer Lopez, 52, and Ben Affleck, 49, have finally found each other after nearly two decades to revive the flame of their great love of youth. Fat of people a little confused? Typical Hollywood madness? Not so sure. Because the first true love, the one that marks your youth, the one that puts whole galaxies in your eye and makes you want to play that Bonnie and Clyde against the rest of the world, seems to continue to haunt us for years, decades , even all of life. Sometimes to the point where Jennifer and Ben, to inspire the desire for a fresh start.
The proof? According to a British study published in 2020 and published by the express.co.uk medium, 60% of adults regularly think about their first love. Even more amazing: 40% still nurture feelings for this person, and every eight are even in touch with them via social networks.
How many dare to take the plunge to reunite? “To my knowledge, there is no data on the subject in the scientific literature,” laments Nicolas Favez, professor of psychology at the University of Geneva. But all specialists agree: Reliving a first love is more common than we imagine. A phenomenon that can even be boosted by the pandemic. “I met Pasquale during a language stay in Germany in 1996,” says Muriel, 46 today. I was 18 and he was 20. Our story lasted two months, quite intense, then he went back to Italy, basically just for a week, but he never came back. We called each other once or twice but saw nothing. I never forgot him, I often thought of him, I had searched for him on the internet, but I only had his first and last name, quite common! And so last year I found him on Facebook, just before the birth. We hooked up, we wrote to each other and then we quickly started talking on the phone every night. In June we finally saw each other in Milan and it was fantastic. ”
Meet a new self
Admittedly, Muriel admits to having been apprehensive after all these years. Would they like each other again? Would they have changed to the point that they did not find the original magic? “But it was immediately clear. We saw each other whenever possible in the early days, in Switzerland and Italy. He moved closer to the border and found a job here. Our goal is to live together despite the difficulties, the language, the distance, our respective children. Sometimes I regret these years that have passed, but I say to myself that there was definitely a reason we did not find each other before.
In fact, it is not necessarily coincidental that the ex-partners of a first love tend to reconnect so late. “People who return to their youthful passion often do so after 40 years, and especially after 50 years,” notes Saverio Tomasella, a doctor of psychology and psychoanalyst, author of Open letter to sensitive souls who want to stay that way (Ed. Larousse, 2021).
And then these years can also offer auspicious moments to feel available for a new story, with the experience of a divorce, a move, a professional reorientation, or with adult children making an air call. We want to feel alive in a very strong passion.
Okay, but why does first love, often so distant, go back to the past, rather than newer, more concrete exes? “It is often over time that this idyll gains this status as first love, we realize that it stands out thanks to hindsight and accumulated experience,” notes Saverio Tomasella. It’s not always about the very first love story, but it’s the first time we love so much, it’s a meeting in the order of evidence, a phenomenon that makes us know one entity. “This famous first love is actually” a meeting with the other, when you meet a new self that you suddenly want to be, we project all our expectations on this idyll “, points out psychotherapist Nicole Prior (last work published: Hypnosis for everyone, another way to facilitate your family and couple life, red. Payot Psy). Until the senses are marked: “It’s a firework of sensuous, affective discoveries, it’s a cocktail of surprises that we rarely find later,” points out Alessandra Duc-Marwood, psychiatrist and psychotherapist at CHUV.
It is therefore no wonder that it remains so strongly ingrained in our minds. “He remains in our memory as the standard, the measure of passionate love, the horizon to reach under the romantic conditions that follow. And like any lost paradise, we are constantly attracted to it,” analyzes Saverio Tomasella.
“The person can maintain this feeling that there was still something to live in, for a long time,” confirms Nicole Prieur. The period of life in which the first love tends to occur is unfortunately favorable to obstacles of any kind. “These unions are more often subject to contextual events that can break with causes independent of the two lovers,” emphasizes Alessandra Duc-Marwood. “It’s a driving force for the nostalgia surrounding these experiences. over time.We tend to keep only the good sides of the idyll of the past.
An inexhaustible attraction, but perhaps also a certain loss of memory in terms of the less pleasant aspects … Restoring the connection to a first love can be risky. “I was obsessed with Mathilde for years, remembers Aurélien, 39. I had never been able to digest our breakup because of two of our parents who were colleagues and did not get along. Even in a stable relationship with another person later, I tried to reconnect to this passion I experienced during my college studies. We saw each other several times, we fell for each other again, but each time it ended wrong, as if this story from the beginning was doomed to failure, as if it could not mature and develop into a normal relationship. I ended up losing sight of Mathilde, my buddy learned about these differences, and it broke our union due to endless quarrels. Returning to your first love can burn your wings.
For Nicole Prieur, however, there may be a different life for the first passion: “This idyll, which begins again, can last if the two partners have given up too idealized expectations and no longer hope that the other can solve all their problems, “says Nicole Prieur. The original magic will then be mixed with something more constructive and positive.
Carole, 37, found Lionel fifteen years later
Lionel was my first big love, as a 17-year-old, a very strong relationship that lasted three and a half years, but one day he left without explanation. It was a shock, but hey, such is life. I saw him again in 2012 when his son was born, I was happy on his behalf I had digested. For my part, I had a few relationships, but I never found this intensity. I had kept in touch with his parents and his brothers, and two years ago one of his nephews invited me to his birthday party, a big party on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel. I knew Lionel would be there, probably with his wife, but there was no discomfort. I was zen, but when we met, I saw little stars in his eyes! We talked about everything and nothing, then he admitted to me that it was not an easy time because he was about to divorce.
We thought it would be nice to have a drink. We met again at a restaurant and there I put the cards on the table and I asked him what had happened fifteen years ago. He was sincere, open, told me that after working on him, he was better able to express his feelings. We’ve been together again for two years now. It was pretty weird telling them about us, my parents were surprised when I “introduced” them to my new boyfriend! [VF]
Sven, 46, found Anna twenty-six years later
Anna was my boyfriend between 18 and 20 years old. After our separation, we cut ties, each created his own life, I changed cantons and lived for 17 years with the mother of my three children. She went to Australia, working here and there. In return, she had kept in touch with my mother, with whom she got along well, they saw each other occasionally, for a cup of coffee. During the holidays last year I ate at my mother’s, she received a message from Anna who wanted her address to send her a card. The phone was on the table and for fun I answered with an answering machine. We saw each other again over a meal, we had so much to say to each other, we talked, talked, talked until 5 in the morning!
For several months we met for walks, food, phone calls, in all friendship. Our relationship was full of goodwill and respect, I was afraid to break it, but at the same time we were well aware that something was going on. It happened gradually until we dared to start forever. And it’s really amazing. I tell myself every day that I’m incredibly lucky that it doesn ‘t take much before this happens, the factors that come into place at random, the right timing. [VF]
Martine, 88, has been writing Erhan all her life
He came from Turkey, he was brilliant, handsome and he wanted to become a diplomat. That was in the 50s. I immediately fell in love with Erhan. Ever since we met in college, we were inseparable. I had even met his family in Ankara. We experienced something passionate, unique. Until the day he, just after getting a post in diplomacy, discovered that his position prevented him from marrying a non-Turkish girl. He had always dreamed of doing this job and I could not force him to quit this job. We broke up but remained close friends.
We corresponded for years, then decades. Erhan even came back to Switzerland with his wife and daughter to see me and my companion. I received at least one letter from him every year, we talked about the past, the present, sometimes our feelings. At least until 2019, when he stopped responding to my words. I imagine death suddenly took him away before he could say goodbye to me. He was a little older than me. After 60 years of correspondence with my first love, I now feel a strange loneliness. [NP]
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