They say that you never forget your first love.
But perhaps you should, because memories of it can wreck your relationships for life, research suggests.
Sociologists found that the euphoria of young love can become an unrealistic benchmark against which all future romances are judged.
According to the report, the best way to ensure long-term happiness in a relationship is not to fixate on how you fell head over heels the first time.
Those who take a more pragmatic view of what they need from a relationship rather than striving to recreate the intense passion they once shared with an old flame are more likely to have successful long-term partneship, it argues.
The claim comes in Changing Relationships, a collection of research papers edited by Dr Malcolm Brynin, of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.
He said: ‘Remarkably, it seems that the secret to long-term happiness in a relationship is to skip a first relationship.’
In an ideal world you would wake up already in your second relationship. If you had a passionate first relationship and allow that feeling to become your benchmark, it becomes inevitable that future, more adult partnerships will seem boring and a disappointment.
The problems start if you try not only to get everything you need for an adult relationship, but also strive for the heights of excitement and intensity you had in your first experience of love.
‘The solution is clear: if you can protect yourself from intense passion in your first relationship, you will be happier in your later relationships.’
It is a message Kate Moss might take on board. The model met Johnny Depp when she was 21 and they had a four-year romance.
Years later, when asked about the men in her life, she replied: I just haven’t found anyone I want to spend long periods with. I don’t think I’ve completely got over my relationship with Johnny Depp.
The book has provoked fierce debate among academics.
Professor Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, suggests striving for that initial intensity of emotion can help relationships survive.
Using MRI scans, she observed similar brain activity among those who had been happily married for more than two decades with those who had been in relationships for less than six months.
She said: I found incontrovertible, physiological evidence that romantic love can last.
The book also examines why people pick partners with a similar social background.