I wanted to share the following story by Pamela Weintraub from Psychology today. This story is dedicated to my friend Sean M. May life and love always treat you well.
Todd and Janelle went to neighboring high schools in northern California, in rural towns where teens cruised the roads in big-wheeled, jacked-up trucks. All except for Todd, who drove a silver Porsche. Janelle met Todd one night at McDonalds, and “it was love at first sight—with a side of fries,” she says. On a date to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, “we were stopped by a stranger who issued us a kissing violation. He thanked us for spreading infectious happiness,” Janelle recalls.
But Todd had enlisted in the Army and his final assignment was Korea. Heartbroken yet determined to keep the love alive, Janelle drove him to the airport in 1986. She wrote him every day, but word reached Todd that she was dating others. The gossip had been false, but instead of sorting it out, Todd withdrew. “I was devastated, but I went on,” Janelle recalls.
She eventually got engaged to someone else, although she was still pining for Todd. The night before her wedding, she poured through the photos in her “Todd box,” praying he’d swoop down and whisk her away. Fast forward to 1997.
Janelle’s marriage was unraveling and, seeking comfort, she returned home to visit her folks. She had a feeling in the pit of her stomach that something terrible had happened to Todd, and so she went through her well-loved photos and memories one more time. Later that week, still thinking of him, she searched for Todd on the Internet. She found him in Los Angeles.
“Somehow, I managed to leave a message. Two days later, when I heard his voice for the first time, my heart melted. It felt like a dream.” She told him about her foreboding, and, after a silence, Todd explained that on that day he had taken his box of Janelle memories out of his closet and thrown heartit away. He had spent the prior week looking for her on the Internet but could not find her and had given up.
“We talked on the phone for days,” Janelle reports, “and it felt as if we were never apart.” But in the real world, sorting things out would take time. They needed to talk about the past to determine what had gone wrong. And there was the issue of Janelle’s marriage. “I was so afraid that, if I told him, I would lose him again,” Janelle says, but finally that, too, came out.
Then, one night on the phone, Janelle blurted out a confession: “I’ve been in love with you my whole life,” she said. “I’ve been in love with you, too,” answered Todd. He hopped on a plane the very next morning and Janelle picked him up at the airport, the same one she’d taken him to en route to Korea eleven years before. They went straight to Fisherman’s Wharf. From that day forward, they were together. Today Todd and Janelle Graves and their two small children live in Seattle. “I love telling this story,” Janelle says. “Every time I tell it, I cry.”
If Todd and Janelle had left their hearts in San Francisco, only to find them in the same exact spot, they aren’t alone. Romantic reunions with past partners are more common than ever due to the ease of finding people online. Before the Internet, locating a lost love required a library of phone books, a private detective or plenty of luck. The hunt was an act explicitly rife with feeling, a kind of public declaration.
Today, old lovers can type a name into Google. The act seems to be casual, whether it actually is or not. It’s so easy to reconnect that many people look up old flames without appreciating what’s at stake. Most of these romantic reunions, says California State University at Sacramento psychologist Nancy Kalish, are between first or early loves—those relationships that took place between one’s teens and early 20s.
According to Kalish, the country’s foremost expert in rekindled romance, lost-and-found romances are surprisingly successful, as long as both partners are not otherwise attached at the time they reconnect. In Kalish’s initial sample of 1,000 lost-and-found lovers, ages 18 to 95, nearly three-quarters remained together after a decade of study. When these past lovers married each other, their divorce rate after four years tallied in at no more than 1.5 percent. Usually, second marriages are relatively fragile: In the public at large, nearly one-quarter of all couples who remarry get divorced again within five years.
How to explain the endurance of rekindled first love? “Many of the couples grew up together or shared friends and values,” says Kalish. Whether they were from the same hometown or met in college, “they spent formative years together and became each other’s standard for all romances since.”
Yet for all the power and resilience of rekindled romance, Kalish has discovered a dark side. More of the encounters are now unpremeditated, and many of these people are swept away by feelings they didn’t know they still had, placing marriages—even good marriages—at risk. In her latest sample, more than 60 percent of lost-love reunions involve affairs.
Till next time,