In short, science says no. …But that’s far from the end of the explanation.
Behavioral psychologist Nancy Kalish, Ph.D. recently wrote about a study she did on imprinting. Imprinting—for those who don’t read websites dedicated to celeb relationships, acai bowls, the best athleisure wear for a job interview and yoga poses in exotic parts of your living room on Instagram—is the notion that we are biologically predisposed to want to graft our lives to our original love.
An example in nature of this phenomenon, she writes, is the duckling’s behavior. “…Young ducks following the mother duck: whatever the ducks see moving within a few hours after they hatch, they follow; they will not imprint and follow anything they see before the critical period window or after the critical period.”
Her research, however, does not support the same theory working in humans who experienced their first half-dozen pregnancy scares together. “Every adult who had a teen boyfriend or girlfriend would have a ‘lost love,’ a yearning just for the teen sweetheart, because they all had the same teen hormones. Obviously this is not the case. There are plenty of teen sweethearts who marry—and divorce.”
In a study of both people who decided to rekindle their first loves and those who chose to move on, using the same set of questions, Kalish found that most who decided not to reunite did not speak of an imprinted bond, rather some good memories and some bad ones—but ultimately they were comfortable in knowing that moving on was the right thing to do.
Consequently, those who did rekindle admitted that it wasn’t as much due to imprint as it was the desire to see whether they’d left something on the table.
She did note that the memory of that first love—their voice, smell, touch—can arouse the brain …and other parts, but cautioned “strong emotional memories are not imprints.”
Which brings us to the Giants’ connection with third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval broke up with the Giants in the fall of 2014 to relocate to the East Coast for his new love. The Giants, still aglow in the recent memory of Sandoval and that magical fall getaway to Kansas City, reluctantly rotated the picture frames and placed their Panda hats with care in the bottom drawer.
They dated around for a little bit and found a transition romance in the willing, veteran arms of Casey McGehee that fall. But that wasn’t meant to be. Then they found true love, in a younger, stronger …much thinner guy named Matt Duffy. It seemed to be the real deal, but the Giants for whatever reason pushed him away—all the way to Florida. Then came Eduardo Núñez, who has been everything they’ve wanted him to be, yet somehow, not enough.
In summary, they have struggled, mightily, in their third base relationships since breaking up with Sandoval—and in general. And fans’ hearts were set aflutter when they heard Sandoval had gotten dumped on the East Coast last week and was thinking about coming back.
Baseball’s equivalent of the “U up?” text out of nowhere on a nothing Thursday night.
In spite of the Giants’ texting back “…Ya. Wuz actually thinking of u. How u been? ?”, Though Sandoval has been mostly radio silence since the initial exchange, his decision will be made on Friday—just in time for a potential weekend rendezvous in Sacramento. You know, taking it slow and all that.
The Giants have to decide in the interim whether or not to break up with Núñez to make a reunion with Sandoval, even a temporary one, possible. Ironically, Boston—Sandoval’s ex—may be Núñez’s new suitor.
But that’s how it works in relationships. Everyone is someone else’s new song, and sometimes old songs are the ones you love the most.
…But that’s not biology as much as it is simply hearing what you want to hear.