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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Resurfacing Love

Recently, I read an interesting article that got me to think about boyfriends and girlfriends and the fine balance there is between the past and the present. The article was entitled “The Power of First Love”. First love is able to transcend the boundaries of your present relationship and nurture a seed in the brain of men and women who always feel a fascination to go back to that one time where love was free from the complications of adult relationships. Although this sounds immature and slightly nostalgic, this phenomenon has its roots in science. In the article there are several relationships that are destroyed by a spouse that still lusts after their first love. Although the article puts a positive spin on how the jilted party can “reinvent” themselves, it fails to view the very real and human side of these devastated relationships and paints a rosy picture for those who are able to destroy their present for one more chance at correcting their past mistakes and heartaches. But with science on the side of those who cannot escape their past relationships, is it possible to forgive them or to excuse their behaviour?

This topic was of particular importance to me because it is constantly on my mind as to how relationships are formed based on one’s past experiences. Surely anyone who has been in a relationship knows how important, and sometimes devastating, it is to learn about your partner’s romantic past. There are the trite insecurities that both partners involve face as to how they measure up to other persons past experiences. I have no conclusion after reading this article. It presents us with the contradictions inherent in our society. Prominent psychologists are constantly telling us that we need to overcome the past and live in the present and be happy with those who we are with. But love stories, movies and now scientists are claiming that it is hardwired into our brain to long for your first love. Is it possible to overcome biology, or is it that we will always give into our primal instincts at one point in our lives? Then there are the considerations that if we were to give into these instincts, are we able to forgive ourselves or forgive those who have ruined present relationships and sometimes lives, in order to live out a biological destiny?

The article also brought to light the question as to how truthful we are to ourselves about those we proclaim that we no longer love. My boyfriend and I have always discussed our past relationships with a bit of restraint, never showcasing our true feelings for those who we left behind. His story of lost love was devastating, as it was exactly what the article described; being in love at an early age only to be torn apart by parental influences and never being able to physically communicate afterward. Of course this presents us with the whole “The Notebook” scenario, that one day they will find one another and rekindle the romance that they would inevitably have started had it not been for society meddling. Yet the side of The Notebook that is never told is how it ruins the lives of those who are already in the relationship with one party. The situation between partners can grow tense even if the confession of feelings for their lost love is confessed. Recently, my boyfriend and I played the game “shoot, shag, or marry?” He confessed that if I were not in the picture he would surely marry this girl from his past. His honesty left me dumbfounded, but the reality of the situation is much more complicated. He has insisted that this scenario would never happen, yet he and I know that he cannot help but let those unresolved feelings bubble to the surface of his mind once and while. And it is those feelings that are primarily responsible for driving our actions.

However, there is the other, albeit, more rational side to this scenario as well. Both parties in the relationship have first loves, or first lusts. If each party can make a commitment to stick with each other, isn’t that enough to override biological longings for those in our past that we simply should be able to let go? I do not have the answer to this question. There is the other more disturbing element that if you are incredibly happy in your present, is there a trigger that makes one long for their past? Is there a point in which we are ever able to let go of our past, and even if we are, are we ever able to let go of those feelings we harbour for our first love? This article seems to suggest that we are only able to suppress those feelings, and some of us stay in relationships out of fear that we will be hurt or hurt the other person by leaving. However, if fear is the only thing keeping us together and our longing for our pasts is as intense and hardwired into us as to leave a 10 year long marriage and committed relationships on whim, are any of us really safe from our own feelings for our own past lovers? Are we our own relationship sabotages by rekindling memories of pasts loves?

I do not believe that it is justifiable to leave any relationship without considering how it will affect the lives of others involved. I am not advocating staying in a relationship if you are miserable, but to revert back to the love you had for others while promising that love to the person you are presently with is not fair, and nor is it right. However, with our pasts shaping who we are, how we think and our present relationships, it is hard to get away from the notion that those in our pasts have had a profound impact on us and sometimes that impact is enough to justify breaking away from the commitments we have made in the present. I suppose it is best to say that there are those we love, and there are those that we will always love.


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