First loves are magical, but they’re all too often lost.
Maybe you argued over something that seemed like a big deal back then, or maybe life simply tore you apart and you lost contact.
But now, 30 years later, the world is smaller than ever and with social media at their fingertips, more and more people are reconnecting with their first loves. But how do they do it?
Well, to help you along here are 10 tips to help you reconnect with your first love after 30 years of being apart.
1) Expect that it will be awkward
It’s nice to imagine that things will go perfectly—that you will know exactly what to say, and that they will listen along and respond the way you wish they would.
But that’s definitely not how things are going to play out. This time around, hormones might not help you.
You’re going to find yourself fumbling for words to say, and they will probably be a little confused by what you have to say every now and then.
You might consider your first meet-up a little uneventful and boring.
And that’s fine!
Just because things don’t go perfectly or follow the script you had been penning in your mind doesn’t mean that there isn’t any chemistry between the two of you, or that your situation is hopeless.
It’s been 30 years after all. You simply need to find the perfect icebreaker.
It might be a slow burn this time, which can lead to a more long-lasting relationship if you ever decide to have one.
2) Understand your desires and motives
Whether you’ve already been in contact with your first love or have yet to reach out to them, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to stop and think about your desires and motives.
You may be tempted to say “wait, no, I have no motives!” but you definitely do.
Do you want to start something again with them, or do you simply want to be friends again?
Do you miss how they made you feel back then, and simply want to live those “good old days” again?
These things will influence how you feel, and the last thing you want is to fly blind. So be honest with yourself. This way, when something just so happens to upset you, you know why.
3) Understand their desires and motives
You’re not a teenager anymore, so hopefully, by now you’ll have more wisdom to gauge people’s motives and how they tie in to their actions.
That doesn’t mean that you should be paranoid and try to see ghosts and hidden meanings in everything they say and do.
Rather, understand that everyone is driven by their desires and motivations, and understanding what it is that their heart desires can help inform your own decisions.
If they showed up out of nowhere and began talking, for example, you might want to know why.
Are they perhaps lonely, or just reconnecting with their old friends? Do they want romance or just friendship? Are they just bored?
Before meeting them, you can try scrolling through their timeline on social media to get a better picture of how things have been for them, or you can try to figure out what they’ve been doing lately.
4) Get to know the new person that they’ve become
Nobody lives thirty years and be unchanged. That’s almost half the time people have in this world! So of course they’re not the same person as you remembered them, and neither are you.
Whether they’re a globe-trotting nomad or an office worker who spends their days sitting behind a computer screen, your first love will have experienced a lot in the past thirty years.
The natural thing to do, of course, is to catch up to them. To ask them about the life they’ve lived and understand their perspective.
How have they changed as a person? Are they successful, or struggling?
Are they married now, perhaps? Divorced? Had they remained single all this time?
Of course, the very act of reconnecting with someone means getting to know them, so this piece of advice might seem obvious.
Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Many people don’t even try. Others are content with getting a superficial understanding and then going off assumptions because it’s easier.
What you must do is to try to be better than that.
5) Just be yourself
It might be tempting to show off just how much you’ve changed since you last met, or try to act more like who you were in the past in hopes of kindling something familiar.
It doesn’t matter how much you’ve grown and matured through the years. Love and admiration have a way of eroding that control and turning people into love-struck teenagers.
Resist that temptation at every turn and just try to be yourself. Let your own colors shine and trust them to see you as you are without having to be told about it.
Sometimes people just don’t see what it is that makes them so endearing, and end up trying to exaggerate their actions or even pretend to be someone else entirely.
But the unfortunate effect of such a thing is that they not only lose what it was that gave them appeal, they also end up wearing themselves thin over it.
So just be your true, genuine self and let your first love fall in love of who you are.
6) Avoid bringing up past hurts
It’s been thirty years, and that means that whatever wrongs you’ve done to each other in the past are best well left alone. Think about it—what good will it do for you to bring up the things that you fought over in the past?
You might say “I want to poke fun at how petty we were in the past!” and think that it’s fine because you’ve gotten over it. But even if you have indeed gotten over it, you can’t exactly say the same of them.
Maybe what was but a throwaway comment for you was something that had shaken them to the core. It’s perfectly understandable if they don’t want to be reminded of how petty the two of you used to be.
And then there’s also the chance that they could have also honestly forgotten about them and bringing them up will only make things awkward.
Sure, laughing about your past mistakes is a thing you can bond over, but it’s something to be done with caution and care. Do it wrong, and you might just find yourself accidentally insulting them.
7) Learn to separate nostalgia from love
The last thing you should do is to think things like “I already know you.” Everyone changes a little bit day after day and 30 years is a long time.
It’s possible to know and understand this, of course, and still fall into the “I know you” trap, especially when they do or say things that remind you of who they were in the past.
Maybe you just like the idea of getting back together because you get nostalgic of the past.
Trying to think of them as an entirely new person because of that is going to be impossible. You already know a version of them, and even though they have grown since then, it’s not like they’ve transformed into an entirely different person.
Some of their flaws might still remain. Some of their habits might have managed to remain unchanged too.
So what you should do is to remind yourself over and over that no matter how much they might remind you of the past, they’re more than just that.
They’re different now, in many more ways than you might first think.
8) Don’t be afraid to say sorry if you hurt them before
The unfortunate thing about dealing with people is that you can try to be as tactful as you can, but still end up saying or doing something to offend. This is surprisingly enough the norm with old couples, as old issues begin to surface again.
It’s not unusual to feel slightly offended when this happens. After all, you’ve already tried your best—how dare they take offense!
It’s easy enough to grumble about how people these days get offended over the smallest things, but it’s honestly nothing new. The only difference is that in the past, offense led to people getting exiled. These days it just leads to fights on social media.
The best course of action is to swallow what frustrations or preconceptions you might have and instead apologize.
Try to listen to what they have to say, so that you’ll understand why they were offended so that you can avoid doing so in the future.
9) Don’t try to rush it
There’s a saying that goes “good things take time”, and that couldn’t be any more real for relationships—it doesn’t matter what kind.
The best romances are built atop solid friendships, and good friendships are built with time, trust, and respect.
It’s important to keep this in mind and take your time building and rebuilding your relationship with your first love and letting whatever fond feelings between you grow naturally.
This is even if you know that whatever feelings you have for them are reciprocated. You have been apart for 30 years, after all.
Take the time to know each other, to make many new happy memories together. Savor the journey instead of skipping to the end.
Haste makes waste after all. And you don’t want to meet up again after 30 years only to waste it all because you couldn’t wait.
10) Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get what you want
If you had dreams of getting back together with your love, and they’re open to it after all this time, then good news. You have a chance of getting back together, and staying.
Statistics show that younger couples who get back together with their ex are likely to break up again within a year. Older couples, on the other hand, stay.
But sometimes things are just not meant to be. Maybe your personalities or ideals just aren’t compatible. It could be that you’re strictly monogamous, while they’re polyamorous. There’s no satisfying compromise to such a situation, unfortunately.
Sometimes people can love each other a lot, but not have romantic feelings towards one another… and sometimes, it’s just too late and one of you is married or engaged already.
But think about it. Is it really that bad if you can’t be together romantically? In many ways, a deep friendship with someone who understands who you are can be more fulfilling than a romantic relationship.
Meeting someone after thirty years apart can be quite intimidating. The two of you will have changed so much in that time that neither of you will know what to expect.
And if you want to rekindle a romantic relationship with your first love, you will have to start with a clean slate.
However, if you apply the tips above, you should have a better chance of developing the kind of relationship that you want and need.