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7 Myths of Lost Love Reunions

Many assumptions about reunions are untrue.

Lost love reunions are a different kind of romance. Because there was an initial romance years ago —usually in the adolescent, formative years, and lasting more than a year—these romantic partners are not new to each other. I have researched this topic for two decades with more than 3500 participants in 42 countries, ages 18 to 95. Along with data obtained from my questionnaires, I have read their stories and comments attached to the surveys and talked to many of them by phone.

They often struggle to understand what they are going through: it's such a strong, unique bond that they tell me they feel crazy. And their friends and families tell them they must be crazy. They consult psychotherapists to sort out their emotions, and many discontinue therapy in anger. Here are some of the recurring complaints and myths that even professional counselors believe about rekindled romances.

Myth #1: "You don't really know this person. You haven't seen [him/her] for many years."

Reality: These lost loves do know each other, very well. Personalities don't change much throughout the years. If they were happy together for one to three years, as is often the case, seeing each other daily through high school and sometimes college, and only an external factor broke up the romance (moved away, too young, parents disapproved, etc.), they have shared formative years together and have a good chance of being a happy couple again.

Myth #2: "It's a new romance, so of course there is euphoria, but that wears off when you get to know this person. It's just infatuation because it's new."

Reality: The euphoria is not because of newness. It is the excitement of having this once-beloved person back in your life. And that sense of wonder remains through time as the couple spends their late-life years together.

Myth #3: "It's just a midlife crisis, a desire to get back one's youth."

Reality: It has nothing to do with midlife. Couples reunite at all ages, with the average age being in the mid to late 30s. Just as many people reunite after 10 years apart (which could still be in their twenties) as 40 years apart. Yes, they do feel young again; but this is a wonderful and surprising byproduct of the reunion, not the purpose of it.

Myth #4: "You are just having an affair. There is something wrong with your marriage and that is what needs to be worked on."

Reality: Very often, if the lost loves happen to find each other again when one or both are married, and if they do begin an affair, their marriages may not be in trouble at all. Half of the participants in my surveys who were in rekindled romances said they were also in happy marriages. They never cheated before this (and they never do with anyone else after this) and they are torn between their marriages and their lost loves. It has nothing to do with the state of the marriage. It has more to do with loving two different people at two different times of life, and then suddenly the two collide.

Myth #5: "It's all about sex."

Reality: My research participants reported that their sexual involvement with their lost love partners was one of the strongest sexual experiences in their entire lives. But this isn't because it's new, or even because it's sex. It's because, they reported, the romance was the most comfortable, the most trusting, and the most familiar romance of their lives, because of their past histories with their lost loves. And because of the intensity of having the lost loves back again in their lives after so many years away.

Myth #6: "This rekindled romance is a fantasy. It's just indicative of something unresolved from the past, usually concerning the family of origin."

Reality: If you want to make people angry quickly, just tell them what they feel isn't real, it's just a fantasy. No, it's not a fantasy, although it is about something unresolved from the past. These are two people who loved each other years ago and missed an opportunity to be together; now they want to correct that mistake.

Myth #7: "You should just forget about it."

Reality: If someone has not contacted a lost love but is obsessed with the idea of doing so, it isn't helpful to tell them that these feelings are simply nostalgic, not genuine, and they should put it out of their minds. Does it ever work—for anyone obsessed with something—to try to ignore it? It's the elephant in the living room. Once the obsessive thoughts about a lost love take hold, they cannot easily be pushed back into the unconscious. Yes, you can work this through in psychotherapy, so you can function without making contact with a lost love, but this takes work.

Copyright 2014 by Nancy Kalish, Ph.D. All rights reserved.