Almost everyone knows what it feels like to fall in love for the first time. It’s a beautiful thing that makes your heart race, whether from lust, adoration, or appreciation.
Your first love plays a huge role in your life, whether you want it to or not. There are songs about it, you’ll find it in almost every movie plot, plus there’s even a whole day dedicated to love. If it’s so significant, why do most people know so little about it?
There is more to love than meets the eye. That is why this post aims to reveal the most surprising psychological facts about your first love — in other words, some juicy secrets (shhh).
1. Not Everyone Will Experience Their First Love
It’s true. Not everyone has the mental capacity to fall in love, whether to give or receive. A well-known reason is the fear of falling in love, known as philophobia. Persons who experience this phobia likely had complicated previous parental relationships (such as divorce or the death of a parent) or were victims of neglect or abuse.
2. Your First Love Might Be Infatuation
When you fall in love for the first time, it might just be infatuation. It’s easy to confuse the two. Infatuation is a feeling that comes and goes that’s centered around how your partner makes you feel. Love, on the other hand, is everlasting, unwavering, and deeply rooted.
Since most people struggle to discern between the two, today’s culture tends to dismiss the idea of ‘forever love.’ Any relationship does start with being in love; it’s only later, after much time and growth, that it becomes lasting.
3. First Love May Alter Your Brain Forever
You’ll likely fall in love for the first time in your adolescent years. During this time, your brain is still developing, so any intense and meaningful experience will have a profound and everlasting effect. The same goes for your first love.
First love leaves a notable imprint on the sensory areas of the brain. Some psychologists believe that humans experience a sort of ‘memory bump’ during their teens. This means that you usually experience your firsts (first love, kiss, driving a car) during a time when your memory is at its peak.
4. Oxytocin is the Reason You Fall in Love for the First Time
Oxytocin is the main hormone responsible for the feeling of love. This natural hormone plays a significant role in the male and female reproductive system, which in turn, affects human behavior.
It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, putting anxiety and stress in the back of your mind. Oxytocin can be triggered by touch, warmth, and sexual arousal. This hormone can influence how you interact socially, whether you trust or empathize, and the number of positive memories you may have.
5. First Love is Addictive
Psychologists at the University of Utah have found that the caudate nucleus and the ventral tegmental area (VTA) are the two brain regions associated with romantic love. Furthermore, this is essential in the brain’s reward system, which explains why receiving affection can be so addictive.
So, when people are in love for the first time, it may be the most exciting and satisfying feeling ever as they have not experienced all these sensations. Like drug addiction, first love (romantic love) affects our motivational system rather than our emotions.
6. Your Heart Beats Like Crazy When You First Fall for Someone
When you catch sight of your new love, your body produces a slight adrenaline boost. This directly affects your heart, making it beat faster for a few seconds.
7. First Love Makes You Stupid
You know the saying love makes you blind? Well, it turns out there’s some truth to it. Love, especially your first rodeo, makes you stupid. But don’t worry, it’s only temporary!
Love is so intoxicating that it overwhelms your mental space, minimizing your cognitive functioning. During these brief moments, you might do something silly or even agree to something you wouldn’t usually entertain. Changing your hair, neglecting your friends, having a Bonnie and Clyde moment, the possibilities are endless.
8. First Love Also Makes You Sleepy
You’ve been a teenager once, or you’re one right now, so you know nothing beats those daytime naps after school to dream about your crush. There’s more to this, though. Psychology suggests that falling in love makes you sleepy, and it has all to do with (you guessed it) hormones.
Sleeping next to someone you adore makes your body release feel-good hormones, namely Oxytocin, and serotonin. And boy, do these make you extra sleepy. No wonder you fall asleep that much quicker when cuddling.
9. Your Pupils Can Reveal When You’re in Love
This is a bizarre one, but hey, there’s a reason why they say the eyes are the windows to the soul. So it’s no surprise that the pupil dilates when you look at someone you love. This could be a sign of infatuation or long-standing love and caused by an adrenaline boost.
10. First Love Can Change Your Life
Emotions such as hatred, anger, and fear do have a strong dopamine response. However, love is more intense. It affects your behavior and can alter your life more significantly.
Love is so strong that it can conquer every other emotion. When you fall in love for the first time, it can help you develop empathy, helps with communication skills, and emotional resilience.
11. Many Animals Species Stick to Their First Love to the End
Yes, yes, and yes. Like humans, animals are capable of experiencing love. Science also backs up this claim suggesting that animals share similar brain chemicals and systems that allow love to flourish.
What makes some animal’s love more remarkable is how they mate with one partner for life. Wolves, macaroni penguins, swans, barn owls, beavers, seahorses, and several other species will remain loyal to their first love.
First love and love, in general, is not possible for all animals, though. Critters like insects, crustaceans, and arachnids do not feel any emotion whatsoever.
12. Falling in Love Can Help Relieve Pain
Love is a natural pain reliever. No seriously. Studies show that love blocks pain the same way opioid analgesics do.
This insane fact shows how love affects the mind, and since first love is more impactful, you might start to forget what headaches are. It works because love-induced analgesia is associated with the brain’s reward centers, tapping into the most primitive structures. The result: pain may be blocked at a spinal level.
This doesn’t mean you should replace your painkillers with love, but as you can see, a simple hug or kiss can make you feel tons better.
13. Some Fall in Love Much Quicker Than Others
Find yourself falling head over heels in an instant? You might have emophilia, a tendency to fall in love much quicker than the average person resulting in swift romantic endeavors. It’s not all sunshine, though; people with this trait will often ignore red flags or rush into a relationship which may result in heartbreak.
14. Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment are the Recipe for First Love
Love is not just a tiny hormone that tells us how to feel about someone. It’s a complex emotion with multiple aspects, which is why psychologists study it so closely.
One of these studies makes a strong case about why we fall in love. And this case focuses on three reasons: intimacy, passion, and commitment. In other words, without all three components, you might not be in love at all.
Of course, there are many more factors that make up love, but this triangular theory seems to hold up.
15. Men Are Usually the First to Fall in Love
Who would have thought? Women tend to show more affection and wear their hearts on their sleeves more often. So, it’s pretty shocking that men are the ones to fall in love quicker and harder.
It takes women much longer to realize they’re in love, whereas men can do this in a heartbeat at first sight. A study further elaborated that men are quicker to say, ‘I love you.’ It could result from biology, as women are biologically designed to be pickier.
16. The First Year of a Romantic Relationship is the Hardest
If you can survive the first year of a healthy, caring relationship, then the rest should be a walk in the park. Okay, perhaps it won’t be that easy, but it’ll be a breeze compared to that first insane year. The reason why it’s challenging is because the first year is when you discover.
You discover each other’s imperfections, what you like and dislike about one another, and so on. It’s in the time of discovery when most people realize and conclude whether they are meant to be with someone or not. After this period, you can start working on building the relationship.
17. Passionate Love Lasts About 2 to 3 Years
Don’t believe those cheesy romance movies making you think that your first relationship will be passionate and intensely romantic until the end of time. While first love may feel like a fairytale, reality will start to set in eventually. This is when that emphatic, passionate spark starts to dwindle.
It’s why most first relationships do not last longer than two years and a few months. This may be even shorter for most younger couples as they chase romance rather than a long-term relationship.
18. Most People First Fall In Love as Teenagers
So it turns out that ‘puppy love’ is real love too. A survey involving 1,000 random participants asked them when they first fell in love. They concluded that 55% of people experience their first love between 15 – 18 years old.
They also found that 20% first fall in love between the ages of 19 – 21, and 8% do this by ages 22 – 25. That leaves you with 17% of people only falling in love for the first time after age 25.
19. First Love Makes Couple’s Heart Rates Synchronise
A study conducted on romantic relationships by a psychology professor found that a couple’s heart rates synchronize when connected to heart rate and respiratory monitors. What’s more, they even breathe in and out at the same time. So when people say, “my heart skips a beat when I see you,” there might be more to it.
This sweet phenomenon is known as physiological synchrony. It can also occur on the first date when there’s instant chemistry between two people, causing their hearts to beat in tune.
20. First Love Can Make You Sick
The word ” lovesick” might not be widespread in psychology and medicine, but it has some merit. People can experience intense lovesickness when heartbroken for the first time as they’ve never felt anything like it. This affliction produces adverse physical effects such as stomach aches, heart palpitations, lack of sleep, and shortness of breath.
It feels similar to a panic attack and may even last many years. Lovesickness can also negatively impact the mind, making you feel miserable, insecure, and anxious.
21. First Love Can Also Make You Happy and Healthy
On the other end of the spectrum — being in love for the first time can make you extremely happy. If you’re in a secure, loving, and caring relationship, you can’t help but feel happy all the time. And as you know, happiness and laughter are the best medicine.
A daily dose of oxytocin and other feel-good hormones caused by love promotes emotional and mental well-being. As a result, it helps reduce stress hormones in the body, lowering anxiety and the chances of developing depression. It’s not only the mind that benefits from love; the body also starts feeling its positive effects.
22. It Only Takes 4 Minutes to Fall in Love
While it takes about four months to say “I love you,” humans fall in love much quicker than you think. Instant attraction is definitely possible, and studies have shown that it takes about four minutes for couples to fall in love. This is not pragma (long-standing love), but it’s more based on lust and attraction.
In a nutshell, it takes about four minutes for your brain chemistry to calculate your attraction to someone. Then, it takes roughly four months to realize you’re in love and one year to determine if your partner is right for you. Finally, it takes years to build a strong, long-lasting relationship.
23. Your First Love Will Affect the Rest of Your Relationships
Your first love might not be the best or most meaningful, but it will always be the most intense love for you. Simply put, it’s your first taste of love, much like your first time tasting a new ice cream flavor will always be more impactful.
The reason for this is pretty straightforward: you’re learning. First love teaches you how to love, your imperfections, what you desire or value, what to look for in a partner, etc. So in a sense, it becomes the blueprint for who you choose to be with or what you want in your future relationships.
24. You Really Do Get Butterflies in Your Tummy
There are countless songs out there that include lyrics about getting butterflies in your stomach due to your first love. You might not give it a second thought other than “It’s just lyricism.” But, that fluttering feeling results from your dopamine levels instantly increasing and making you nervous.
And when you’re nervous, your stomach and intestines tighten, and your digestive muscles contract. Next thing you know, you’re panicking and need a potty break.
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JayDee Vykoukal is a writer, author, mom, and Doctor of Physical Therapy. She has been writing about everything motherhood and health-related since 2018 when her first daughter was born, and she wanted to stay home. She loves to research new topics and fun facts with her kids to teach them about the world.