The first boy I loved was a skinny, dark-eyed lost boy with a mohawk. I made out with him every day until my mouth was raw. When we finally had sex, it was planned, protected, and perfect...until he puked on me. Turns out he was nervous too. And thought a beer or seven would help with that. But what I really remember about him, even decades later, is how much fun we had exploring each other's bodies and how fearless we were, even so young. To this day, my eyes go straight for the dark-eyed beanpole dudes. A guitar doesn't hurt either. Turns out that my first experience might be influencing every love affair I've had since, in both small and important ways. Dr. Niloo Dardashti, an adult and couples therapist in New York, says that first love gives us our first “deep emotional connection that [we] haven’t felt before.” That connection sets the stage for all that follow. If the first experience is intense, we likely will seek to replicate it in future relationships by finding ourselves attracted to the WOW partners we meet, people who set our hearts racing. This is not inherently bad except it could inhibit getting to know the new person well before engaging in a relationship. But if that intensity is abusive or obsessive or dangerous, according to Dr. Michelle Golland in the online article "You Never Forget Your First Love," you will continue to seek out the same instability, where you feel aroused or intrigued by partners you've subconsciously pre-screened as emotionally unable to stabilize for a relationship. If you can look back across your personal history and recognize such situations, seek counseling to break the cycle of negative relationships. For some, journaling really helps by allowing you to flip back and forward in time to examine potential patterns in behaviour. Whether it was a summer romance or a marriage, the first love will influence the ones that come after. Getting to the heart of the story of your first, even if it ended badly, will help set you up for a better romance. Does your first love matter to you?