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Second Chance Love

Bolton and Sheridan, Ali and Williams: Famous couples who beat the odds—not once, but twice.

Second-Chance Tips

Rekindled love affairs can be like hothouse plants: beautiful but delicate.

  • Contacting an old love lets the genie out of the bottle. Feelings that are smoldering beneath the surface may be very difficult to control. Before you make contact, be sure you are ready for the fireworks.
  • You broke up the first time around. If you want to reunite, you must openly discuss the original breakup and figure out what went wrong.
  • It's possible that one partner hurt the other, perhaps badly. The responsible partner must explain his or her reasons and try to make up for past wrongs while allowing the relationship to slowly grow past this hurt. The injured party should assume some responsibility for the breakup as well.
  • The reignited relationship might feel overwhelming, so don't push or move too fast, especially if your partner expresses the need for space.
  • If a romance was intensely negative and damaging and if you worked to free yourself from it, the last thing you want is to repeat the pattern or get stuck again. This kind of reconnection may be disastrous for those prone to obsessive love.

Here are a few well-known faces who found their lost loves.

Michael Bolton & Nicollette Sheridan

Sheridan, the blonde, ever-so-slightly worn man-eater on the TV show Desperate Housewives , has reunited with her on-again, off-again flame, vocalist Michael Bolton. It's tabloid news to many, but to the couple, the relationship is a precious chance to do it right—at last. Bolton, who says he felt Sheridan was his destiny, sustained their broken romance as a friendship over the years. He re-romanced her after she broke off an engagement to someone else in 2005. "When it's time, you just know. In a way, we have both always known," Bolton says.

Muhammad Ali & Lonnie Williams

Ali met Lonnie Williams in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1962, when her family moved in across the street. Ali was 20 and Lonnie was only 5, but they quickly became friends. "He was wearing a white, short-sleeved shirt, black pants and a black bow tie," she recalled in the Thomas Hauser biography, Muhammad Ali . Whenever Ali returned home, he made sure to see Lonnie. "I was like his little sister," she said. The initial age difference and Ali's fame took him through three other marriages before he found his way back. Now married for 19 years, Williams and Ali are finally in sync.

Fred Savage & Jennifer Stone

Child actor Fred Savage left the suburbs of Chicago at age 11 for Los Angeles and his star turn in The Wonder Years , the hit series about boomers coming of age. Among those left behind: his friend Jennifer Stone. Eleven years after last seeing each other, they reconnected at Savage's birthday party. "We started talking and smooching, and we've been together ever since," the actor told People after the couple married in 2004.

Donna Hanover & Ed Oster

After her divorce from Rudy Giuliani, then-mayor of New York City, TV host Hanover wondered whether she would be adrift in the single world forever. But an upcoming reunion at her alma mater gave her high-school and college sweetheart Ed Oster a ready excuse to call. The two met for coffee in 2002 and found "an immediate chemistry," says Hanover, "just as there had been when we were kids." Oster had broken her heart in college, but she was ready to forgive. "I was just too young to know what I had," Oster said. They married in 2003.

Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian

Kullijian found the courage to contact Channing, his junior-high-school girlfriend, after 70 years, when she fondly mentioned him in her memoir. "The leader of the school band was Harry Kullijian. I was so in love with Harry; I couldn't stop hugging him," Channing wrote. Channing's mother, deeming her too aggressive, had broken up the young romance, but things were set right when the two wed in 2003.