[Two Pronged] Still attached to memories of my first

Jeremy Baer, Margarita Holmes

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'I mean, ex na siya eh, normal lang po ba yung may nararamdaman pa ring attachment sa kanya?'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Doc Holmes and Mr Baer,

Question po. Is it really “possible” to be emotionally attached to your ex, whom you had first sexual intercourse with? I mean, ex na siya eh, normal lang po ba yung may nararamdaman pa ring attachment sa kanya? Thanks po in advance.

He was not a very good partner po – not in taking care of my feelings and also not sexually. Our sex was always painful. He told me I was worrying over nothing, that it was normal to feel some pain at the start and sabi rin po nya the pain would stop after I got used to it. But even after 8 months, masakit pa po rin (it still hurt) He still tried to convince me that as normal, but my friends said that was impossible.

When I told him that, he smiled, saying it was because he was too big down there.

Before our first time he always asked how I was, but after, he didn’t ask anymore. I was no longer happy. When I told him I wanted to break up, he said yes right way. He did not even try to fight for me.

I have a new boyfriend and he is so different from my first. Sex with him is what my friends said sex was like, which I never felt with my ex. But why can’t I forget him po?


Dear Anna,

Thank you for your letter.

The first time one has sex, whatever one’s age, is a rite of passage. It may be categorized as a loss of virginity, or bestowal of a (sacred) gift, or a further step towards full adulthood etc but it will probably be a significant lifetime memory.

Of course not all first times are happy memories; some are only remembered hazily, through the fog of a hangover for example, and some are best forgotten, clumsy furtive fumblings, perhaps in the back of a car, with a high risk of discovery.

Whatever the circumstances, most people do not forget either the other person or the occasion, though whether with love, fondness, warmth, disgust, hatred etc very much depends on those circumstances.

So Anna, it is quite understandable that you still feel a connection with your ex. In fact, all your joint memories form connections. You have highlighted two: your first time and eight months of lousy sex. Maybe it is time to put your memories in a more realistic perspective. Your ex may have been your first lover but there is a reason he is your ex – he was terrible in bed and completely oblivious of your feelings and needs.

Perhaps you should make an inventory of the good and bad aspects of the time you were together. Give appropriate weighting and importance to each since all that bad sex is surely not cancelled out by the occasional candle lit dinner. One single factor e.g. infidelity can after all destroy an entire relationship. Yet happy memories can be retained whatever the outcome and that is perfectly normal.

If you wish to share more about your attachment to your ex, please write again.

All the best,

JAF Baer

Dear Anna,

Thank you very much for your letter. I like how accurate you are with words. You ask: “Is it really “possible” to be emotionally attached to (the one) whom you had first sexual intercourse with? Ex na siya eh, normal lang po ba yung may nararamdaman pa ring attachment sa kanya?”

I love your use of the word attachment; and not love, passion, or even desire for. Just mere attachment, as in “a connection with” which need not be positive.

However, he is the first one whose penis penetrated your vagina. I have purposely used these words because it seems that is mostly what you meant to him. And, given what you now know, especially in comparison to the way your second boyfriend (and first lover in the true sense of the word) makes you feel, it is perfectly understandable that all you feel for him is some attachment.

Another however, however, is that – sigh – our culture has romanticized the misperception that first love (meaning the first man who has penetrated – as opposed to made love – with “never dies”) 

What a load of bollocks! We don’t even have to look for extreme examples. Even your feelings for him died to the extent you could tell him you wanted to break up with him.

However, in case you have more than neutral feelings for him, say, a “fondness for,” that’s ok also. In fact, it is perfectly natural since you spent a lot of (voluntary) time together. A “fondness for,” while positive, is not super strong like “I want to be your girlfriend again and do everything we used to do” or “Please fight for me because I never want to leave your side.”

Your attachment for your ex seems more like remembering, remembering what happened to you then, but, I hope, also remembering how what is happening now is much better!

Some people say you must forgive AND forget your boyfriend, otherwise it means nothing.

Again, what a load of bollocks!

People don’t forget unless they have dementia which you definitely do not. If you want to forgive him, which I would strongly advise, terrific! But please don’t feel like you’re lacking in something because you feel a fondness for your ex.

That is a very normal reaction. Marami rin kayong pinagsamahan (You went through a lot together) so to forget all that is ludicrous. BUT to pretend all is well is just as ludicrous. As John F. Kennedy said: “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

That, of course, is a little over the top, but please don’t say “what a load of bollocks” to me. Maybe just, well, maybe just “Dr. Holmes, don’t you think that’s a wee bit over the top?” To which I will answer, “you betcha! BUT…if it gets the idea across, keri lang, diba?”

All the best,

MG Holmes

– Rappler.com 

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

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