7 Ways Your First Love Affects You Forever, Per Psychology

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young smiling couple on bicycles who are each other's first loves

You never forget your first love. It only takes a certain song or mentioning their name, and suddenly, you’re fifteen again.

You buzz with recollections of their eyes, that smile, the way your name tasted on their lips. You may even close your eyes and linger there before the ding of your work email thrusts you back into reality.

If this happens to you from time to time, you're not alone. Psychologists agree it's completely normal to get lost in the occasional daydream about that first love. They also suggest the rosy lenses we view them through are about much more than happy nostalgia.

Many agree that the first experience truly is special and helps you understand the meaning of love, especially if it occurs during your teenage years and lasts for a year or more.

Do you ever get over your first love?

This answer depends on how your first try at love went and how it ended. Having your first go at love end in heartbreak may cause you to associate love with a negative feeling. If you had a fairy tale experience, getting over your first love can be difficult, and you may think of them forever.

Intuitive Dating Coach Ronnie Ann Ryan says, "I still think about my first love. I was lucky to feel very loved and safe with him. When I was looking to marry, that relationship was the standard in a way."

RELATED: What It Means When You Dream About Your First Love

The power of that first love is so deep that science suggests it can permanently influence you in several ways.

7 Psychological Facts About First Loves and How They Affect You

1. Your first love embeds vivid memories in your brain.

I can still hear my first love's flirty laugh in my head and feel butterflies filling my stomach whenever I think of his eyes staring back with intense longing. These memories remain in vivid Technicolor, while other recollections have grayed and pixilated over the years.

The term for this is flashbulb memory. These moments, like most that happen with first love encounters, engage all the senses at once, creating a unique combination of emotion and surprise that embeds itself in the brain forever. Details remain as clear as the day it happened and inspire a powerful emotional response. Flashbulb memories are known to decorate our first love experience, making them more memorable.

There's also a "memory bump" that occurs between ages 15 and 26. This means we have the rest of our lives to think back to our first love and rehearse and replay it, rethink it, re-imagine it, and re-experience it.

2. Your first love becomes an extension of yourself.

We were innocent and willing to give our first love our all. As we grew closer, they began to feel less like a separate person and more like an extension of ourselves.

It was a profound experience that typically cannot be replicated after heartbreak, and internal wounds teach us not to let others in as deeply.

3. Your first love creates a mold that you measure future loves against.

Susan Andersen, a psychologist at NYU, says, "Powerful first relationships can stamp a template in your mind that gets activated in later interactions."

When we encounter someone who reminds us of our first love, whether on a conscious or subconscious level, they light up our attraction sensors like a Rockefeller Christmas tree. Part of our brain is so eager to recreate the excitement and novelty of that first time we seek partners who fit our ex's mold. This is sometimes seen as transference.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Your Intense First Love Was Actually A Mind Game

4. Your first love helps you define what love is.

Falling in love that first time changes our perception of what's possible.

Dr. Nancy Kalish, a psychology professor at California State University at Sacramento, claims that our first experience of being in love with someone who loves you back is so new and unfamiliar that the two of you must explore the unknown together to reach a conclusion about what love is.

The two essentially create an identical map of how love should go and refer back to it again and again with each new relationship. In other words, these first experiences are responsible for defining love and navigating its murky waters.

5. Your first love shapes your sense of identity.

Romantic love is something most of us experience for the first time in our teenage years. The years we are also running around trying to figure out who we are, and experiencing that first love can play a significant role in the person we turn out to be.

If the quality of our relationship is positive, we develop confidence and the perception that we're attractive and desirable. A negative experience, on the other hand, can have adverse effects on our self-esteem.

Our first loves help us develop empathy, communication skills, and emotional resilience. They aid us as we redefine our values and decide what matters most in our search for intimacy.

A number of studies suggest that having a stable romantic relationship during our developmental years allows us to feel less stressed and less lonely than our peers and may even help us mature faster.

RELATED: 40 Best 'First Love' Quotes That Nail What It's Like To Fall For The First Time

6. First love gives you the tools to truly learn someone on a soul-deep level.

For starters, your first was probably someone you grew up with. They traveled alongside you during those awkward, angst stages, witnessing your triumphs and failures. They were your cheerleader and the shoulder you cried on.

They also built a comfort level with you during a vulnerable time when you were still trying to figure out who you were. They might have even been the first person you had sex with.

Many believe their first love is their true soulmate and never lose that feeling.

7. First loves create a bond that lasts a lifetime.

During your first love, your brain ends up creating a special bond with that feeling and experience. Though many first loves don't work out due to the immaturity of the relationship, the bond stays.

Our first love never leaves us. Whether we’re 25 or 95, there will always be a special place in our hearts for the relationship that helped form our perception of love and taught us what it really means.

That's why it's perfectly okay to look back fondly and enjoy the memories of a more carefree and thrilling time.

RELATED: Why My First Love Will Get Me Through Every Heartbreak

Carrie Manner is a freelance writer from Northern MN.