It feels terrifying and exhilarating all at once to fall in love for the first time. After the relationship ends, whether you cherish fond memories of your first love or harbor some regrets, you learned some things from the first person who stole your heart. Heartbreak is painful, and it makes finding love again feel more stressful than it felt the first time. Your second romantic relationship is often healthier than the first one was, and you’re likelier to be happy thanks to the lessons you learned in the first relationship.

Falling in love the second time around feels different, and sometimes even better than the first time. Here are just three of those differences.

  1. The first time, you fall fast and hard. The next time, you fall slowly, and usually more deeply.

First loves are often described as “love at first sight.” The experience often defies description. It’s captivating and intoxicating. It sweeps you off your feet and takes your breath away.

The next time, your feelings may develop more slowly. You’re not as innocent— you’ve already been in love, and have experienced all of the emotions that go along with it. You may be more protective, more cautious, and more careful not to make similar mistakes.

Falling in love a second time may feel different, but that doesn’t mean you’re less in love than the first time. You take your time and move more deliberately, so you feel more confident as you decide if your new partner has staying power. This differs from your first relationship when you immediately fell hard and didn’t ask questions until later.

  1. You’re more certain of what you want.

Falling in love a second time may not feel more exciting than the first time. The relationships will feel exciting for different reasons. The first time, you’re younger, and everything involved with falling in love is new to you. Part of the process is discerning if the giddiness and jitters surrounding the powerful emotions are genuine, true love, or simply an intense crush.

The second time around, you’re older and more mature. You’ll have more self-confidence, more experience with dating, and possibly even some other relationships along the way, and you have more experience and certainty identifying what you’re feeling. These factors mean the second relationship is likely to be more mature, more stable, and more satisfying than the first.

  1. You’re older and wiser.

In retrospect, when you compare your first and second relationships, the first one will seem more childish. The feelings may be similar, but the way you express them will likely change. As you mature, you learn to be more vocal, to reciprocate feelings in a relationship, and to express your wants and needs.

  1. You understand that there’s a risk of getting your heart broken.

The first time you fall in love, it’s pure optimism and joy. It’s rainbows and unicorns like it is in every romantic comedy. Falling in love again can still be wonderful, but there’s an added element of fear because you know what you’re risking, and you’ve felt the pain that comes from a relationship ending.

The second time can be more beautiful than the first time, but it will be tinged with a profound understanding of vulnerability and fear. This understanding can make falling in love a second time feel even more real than the first time. This is because there’s more at stake than there was in your first relationship. You’re risking more. You know how hurt feels, but you’re still willing to risk suffering those consequences for the chance to love again It’s almost as if the more understanding you have when you go into it, the deeper your love can potentially become.

  1. You strive more to establish healthy patterns.

Falling in love for the second time can feel fairly similar to the first time, but you’re likely approaching it in a more healthy way.

The first time you fall in love, you likely tick all of the stereotypical “young love” boxes. You feel obsessed with your new partner. You think you’ll stay together for a long time. You feel as though the world will end if you ever broke up. Breaking up certainly is difficult. But you will eventually get through it. After that, falling in love again has a different starting point. You understand that the relationship may not last forever. And you also understand that you’ll survive if it doesn’t.

The feelings in your heart and thoughts in your head may be similar both times around. You may feel obsessed and optimistic both times. But your whole approach the second time around involves more confidence that the relationship is definitely not the most significant thing that will ever happen in your life.

  1. You’re genuinely satisfied, not just infatuated.

Many women fall in love a second time begin their new relationships with a deeper understanding of the person they are, what they want out of the relationship, and what they won’t tolerate anymore This places women in a more strategic position to have their relationship needs fulfilled. They know what their needs are, and are able to articulate those needs to their significant other. The trade-off of possibly feeling a little less of a high is worth the self-actualization that can only come from experience in relationship s.

Pop culture focuses on relational aspects such as love at first sight, immediate and intense physical chemistry, and getting swept off your feet by love. Those feelings may be present, but they’re not what people should consider when pondering whether they should move forward with a relationship.

The real factors to consider are how he treats you, if you feel respected, if you share values, and if you’re both looking for similar aspects in the relationship at the time. These factors are far more likely to land you a healthy, happy relationship than the giddiness that accompanies falling in love.

You’ll probably always remember your first love. But you also have great love in your future to look forward to!