Rekindling a Lost Love

It is common for people in midlife to begin reviewing their life-path, assessing their past choices, decisions and actions as a way to better understand and accept their present emotional, vocational, social and interpersonal state of being. Among the many considerations are thoughts about the nature of their current and past love relationships.

In preparing their personal “report card” most individuals wonder about “what would have happened if I had stayed with, married or did not part with my first love? Obviously, there are no answers to these questions. Whether or not one is satisfied with his/her current partner, the hypotheses about how life could have evolved in other circumstances is unknowable. Yet, some individuals’ curiosity propels them to seek answers for these questions.

In 1946 the Canadian psychoanalyst and organizational psychologist Elliott Jaques coined the term Midlife Crisis defined as: “A critical phase in human development during one’s forties to early sixties when people begin to deal with their aging process, unrealized goals, dreams and hopes and assess their level of accomplishments and life satisfaction.”

The desire to restore one’s youthful state and perhaps rectify some early choices may propel individuals to reconnect with their former beloved.

In “LOST & FOUND LOVERS: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances” Professor Nancy Kalish, the only researcher of this topic, revealed fascinating findings of more than 3000 participants 18-95 years of age. She found that reuniting with lost loves did not exclusively start at mid-life but was compelling to seekers of all ages. “In fact, half of my participants were under 35.” She also discovered that the main reason for the initial breakup was “Parental Disapproval” that is still resented by the reunited adults, and that those reunifications occurred mostly through letter writing or email and not through Internet, private investigators or school reunions.

Another unique finding was that “People don’t usually go looking for lost lovers unless they are happy and secure within themselves. These are not desperate and lonely individuals who are afraid to form new attachments so instead they take the easy way out and find an old flame. It is quite the opposite. People search when they feel good about themselves, and that makes sense.” And, perhaps the most surprising finding was that the second time around, these romances could be very successful. “72 % of the couples in the original sample (1993-1996) reported that they were still together and the first loves were successful 78% of the time. Also, most of the couples reported that this Lost and Found Love experience was the most emotional and sexually romantic in all of their love history.”

To Re-Kindle a lost Love:

  • Understand that the yearning for restored love is not necessarily related to one’s middle age state.
  • Appreciate that you deserve to feel love and be cherished by your current partner.
  • Consider the pros and cons of searching for your lost love as you take into account all the consequences of a major life transition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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