First relationships can be intense, passionate and inspire a great deal of bad poetry. But if you want to find happiness in later life, it is best to avoid puppy love altogether, research suggests.
The claim comes in a book called Changing Relationships, a collection of research papers by Britain's leading sociologists, edited by Dr Malcolm Brynin, principal research officer at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.
Dr Brynin found the euphoria of first love can damage future relationships.
"Remarkably, it seems that the secret to long-term happiness in a relationship is to skip a first relationship," said Dr Brynin. "In an ideal world, you would wake up already in your second relationship."
While researching the components of successful long-term partnerships, Dr Brynin found intense first loves could set unrealistic benchmarks, against which we judge future relationships.
"If you had a very passionate first relationship and allow that feeling to become your benchmark for a relationship dynamic, then it becomes inevitable that future, more adult partnerships will seem boring and a disappointment," he said.
Adults in successful long-term partnerships are those who have taken a calm, pragmatic view of what they need from a relationship, Dr Brynin found.
"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."
Dr Gayle Brewer, a lecturer in social psychology at the University of Central Lancashire, England, agreed.
"If you judge adult relationships against your first relationship, you are using a single benchmark: that of an intense and unrealistic passion," she said.
"Adult relationships need all sorts of other virtues to survive, many of which are not compatible with that level of intensity. For example, you might have felt passionate about your first love because their spontaneity was breathtakingly exciting.
"Adult relationships, however, require people to be committed and reliable. Someone who excels in spontaneity is unlikely to also have those characteristics.
"So you're caught in a bind: the characteristics that excite you are the ones that lead to the failure of an adult relationship.
"If you emotionally fixate on having the excitement, while knowing you need the reliability, you're making demands that no relationship can satisfy."
But Professor Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, believes that striving for that initial intensity of emotion can help relationships to survive.
Using MRI scans, Professor Fisher 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.
"I found incontrovertible, physiological evidence that romantic love can last," she said.
"It appears that romantic love exists not only to initiate pair-bonding but to maintain and enhance long-term relationships."