• Part of an essay in progress

Why do we feel we know an old lover intimately despite the years, decades of separation?

Posted November 3, 2013 8:53 pm  

How is it possible to see an old flame many years later, despite the passage of time—even perhaps of our entire adult lives—and still feel that we know this person intimately, while, in fact, we may know little about his/her work, family, friends, i.e., all the defining aspects of adult life. What is it exactly that we feel we know?

The essential person? Can there be an “essential person” separate from day to day life? Or is it that, assuming we were very young at the time, an intense love relationship engaged the core of the then-forming person. A person can evolve in many different directions—so, in that sense, the future is not foretold in your genes—but looking backward always leads to the same original core.

People report that they feel able to ask or to say anything to someone they loved in the past and haven’t seen in decades. They feel their deep connection in the past gives them the prerogative, that the connection is for life. After all, you do live forever in one another’s memory bank of youthful love. If you are ignorant of one another’s present lives, you know each other as you two were at a special, peak moment in the past, a version of you that may be known by no one else on earth.

A first love can be a dress rehearsal for a more mature, long-term love, but it may have been as intense as any love that followed. For some it is the most powerful, ecstatic, romantic experience of their lives, casting into shadow all that follows.


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