First Broken Hearts Club: How to Move On from Your First Love
As Sheryl Crow sang, “the first cut is the deepest,” but our first love is not always our last. Learn how to move on from your first love.
Ahhh, first love. You have that twinkle in your eye. You get butterflies. And everything feels so intense and passionate. That first date, holding hands, the first kiss, it is all so magical. You never imagined it could end. And when it eventually does, understanding how to move on from your first love can be a hard one for many.
Whether you were broken up with, you did the breaking up, one of you moved, or it was mutual, getting over that first love is a tough one. This wasn’t just puppy love. This was the first time you had genuine feelings for someone. So, how do you even begin to move on from your first love? [Read: 6 reasons you won’t stay with your first love]
Your first love will always be a part of you
Before you even start to move on from your first love, you have to know that this experience will always be a part of you. That does not mean it has to define you, but you will, at least for a time, compare every relationship or person to this one.
This was your starting point. That is what makes it so difficult to say goodbye. But it is possible to move on without forgetting. You can take a lot from your first love, but not be hung up on it. You just have to know how to move on from your first love.
How to move on from your first love
#1 Mourn. Be sad. This may sound counterproductive, but you cannot move on properly or with a healthy attitude if you haven’t given yourself time to grieve. You will miss this person, it is inevitable. There are routines you had, things you did, and moments you shared that are tough to let go of.
And you have every right to be upset. Don’t let anyone force you to move on and be happy before you are ready. When the time is right you will know when to get back to everyday life. [Read: How to deal with the 7 stages of heartbreak]
#2 Cry. Let it all out. Watch sappy movies. Talk to your friends. I once cried for three days straight after a breakup. I got it all out of my system and after that, I did not shed another tear for him. [Read: Use these tips for your next cry therapy session]
#3 Save mementos. You almost definitely have memories and things that remind you of your first love. Whether that be a sweatshirt, photos, toothbrush, what have you, those things are like little stabs through the heart when you see them. So go through them and be sad, then put them away.
Save all photos to a hidden folder on your computer, put all their things in a box in the back of your closet. These things are hard to look at right now, but eventually, they can help you come to peace. Tossing them out can feel good in the moment, but later on, you might wish you didn’t. [Read: Old love letters and memories – Should you keep them or throw them?]
#4 Let it out. Do what you need to do to get out all those feelings. For me personally, that is writing. I filled up entire notebooks when I had my first breakup ever. I just wrote and wrote until my hand was sore. So do what you need. Whether that be working out, playing an instrument, or painting.
If you want to learn how to move on from your first love the right way, do something productive that lets you release some of the feelings you are struggling with.
#5 Keep busy. Now you are onto the stage where life is getting back to normal. You are going to school, working, hanging out with friends. The laying in bed crying has stopped, but you still think about your first love every day.
This is the time to stay busy. Make plans and stick to them. The more you do the less you will be thinking about the breakup. It is not healthy to avoid your feelings, but it is healthy to prevent yourself from dwelling on the pain. You cried, you vented, now you need to get back to life without them. [Read: 10 stages of a breakup and how to get through each of them]
#6 Accept that it is over. Hopefully, by now you can come to terms with the fact that this is your life now. You can function and survive without this person by your side. You do not need them. You won’t cry yourself to sleep. You may even start noticing attractive people while you’re out.
Once you admit to yourself that your first love is just that, your first, you can move on further.
#7 Go dark. I hate when people say this is juvenile because it is the best thing I have ever done for myself. The hardest part about moving on, especially from your first love is your continuing friendship. Often time breakups are so hard that you continue to talk to your ex, even regularly.
This leaves a door open to something happening in the future. It also makes you feel like you haven’t broken up. Talking daily doesn’t let you get used to life without them. Even if you have to mute them on social media or block them on your phone, do it. You can tell them that you need space to properly get over this relationship first.
But when I spent six months not talking to my first love after four plus years, I was finally able to see him in a different light. I got used to being away from him and didn’t rely on that relationship or communication to sustain me. [Read: 12 reasons why the no contact rule always, always works]
#8 Flirt. It may be time for some mingling. You do not have to go on a dating app or try to meet people. But a little light flirting with the cashier or the bartender won’t hurt. It will get you used to the idea of being single.
And it does not have to be scary or intimidating. There is no commitment when it comes to flirting, so see how it feels. Does it feel like you’re a little lighter and freer, or are you still thinking about your ex? This will get your toes wet in the pool of dating so you can see if you’re ready.
#9 Notice what you’re thinking about. When my first love and I first broke up, there was not a day that went by where I didn’t think about him at least once. Maybe I was watching a TV show and something would remind me of him or I was driving by his street or out to eat somewhere we had been before.
But eventually that lessened and it was a few days before I realized I hadn’t thought of him at all. Once I realized that, I knew I was truly moving on from my first love.
#10 Appreciate what you had. There comes a time in the moving on process when you can actually look back at that time and be happy instead of sad. You can look back at your good times and appreciate them for what they were.
You no longer carry pettiness or anger or even sadness, you can actually come to peace with the fact that your first love is in the past and you can move on and take everything you have learned with you.
#11 Talk to a friend. Sometimes, realizing you are in a good place is not enough. Actually talking to someone gets it out in the world and once you say you are moving on and feeling good it somehow becomes more real.
Talk to a friend or family member and let them know you are feeling happy and can look back at your first love without resentment or pain, just memories. [Read: How to get over your first love with a happy memory]
#12 Decide if you are ready to date. There is no need to rush out and date someone new. That is probably not the best move if you are still harboring a few feelings for your first love, but if you are ready, go for it.
Ask a close friend what they think. Your friends know you best. They will know if you are still talking about your ex a lot or if you are in the right headspace to get back out there. [Read: 13 signs it’s finally time for you to start dating again]
#13 Look back at the memories. Remember those photos and that box of stuff you saved? Well, now that you are in a good place, you can look back at them. If looking at your ex makes you feel appreciative rather than sad, you moved on.
Now you can get rid of them. I know that sounds harsh, but if your ex hasn’t asked for their stuff back, they aren’t missing it. You can toss it out and really close that chapter. Physically throwing away something from that time in your life can be very cleansing and open you to new opportunities.
Go ahead and save some photos if you’d like, but definitely donate that sweatshirt and toss that toothbrush. [Read: Is it normal to still love your ex? 15 good reasons why you still do]
#14 Can you be friends? Once you have officially moved on and realized that your first love will always hold a special place in your heart, but you are over it, there is a chance you can be friends.
If you share a friends group, you should be able to attend mutual gatherings without insane awkwardness. But becoming close friends with an ex, especially a first love that can stir up old feelings, is not the best idea. It will almost always end in drama.
Getting too close to someone you have a history with can drag you right back into that painful place you started out at. [Read: Can you actually be friends after a breakup?]
#15 Remember. Once you are truly in a healthy place and have moved on from your first love, they won’t be on your mind. Once in a while, something might remind you of them or you come across a throwback picture, but that should make you smile and move on.
Not dwelling on your first love is how you move one. Coming to peace with the relationship and how it ended is how you move on. And remembering this was just the first love of your life, not the only one, is how you move on.
Figuring out how to move on from your first love is a process I remember well. It was not easy, but with some time, reflection, and good friends you can move forward with your love life.