For old flames, it can be better late Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles aren't the only people reconnecting with long-lost loves February 14, By Bonnie Miller Rubin, Tribune staff reporter. They're the stuff of steamy novels, and fodder for divorce court. They can rekindle romance, and burn up a marriage. The story of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles--who met on a polo field in , were married to others, and now will wed in April--proves the potency of first love, the way it can haunt the course of a life for better and for worse.
For some, the prince's bended-knee proposal not long before Valentine's Day represents the ultimate victory of passion and chemistry over royal propriety. Others will find it hardly a heartwarming chapter in a love story. They think of Princess Diana--who, no matter how dazzling and beloved, apparently was no match in the end for the prince's old flame.
Regardless of looks or lineage, "it's really hard to compete with someone's first love," said Nancy Kalish, a psychologist at California State University in Sacramento. Some people never stop thinking about the one that got away--the girl they met at freshman orientation, the boy whose family vacationed near the same Wisconsin lake.
Others never even dated their crush, just worshiped them from afar. The gravitational pull can be so strong that many people are driven to try to reconnect decades later--sometimes when they're divorced or widowed middle agers.
Sometimes, it happens while they're still married. And in the Internet era, what might have remained a wistful fantasy is now far easier to pursue. Because, say producers, we're all searching for our soul mates.
A month after her divorce from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was final in , she heard from her high school boyfriend, Ed Oster, who dumped her during her early months at Stanford University. Oster was divorced with three grown daughters when he called Hanover for coffee on a visit to New York City. As he walked across the hotel lobby to meet her, Hanover's anxiety quickly evaporated.
Twelve months later, they were married. But they have a similar story to tell. Growing up, they lived just a few miles apart on the South Side of Chicago. He went to Marist. Though they never really met, he caught her eye at neighborhood softball games. He felt it too. But when he reached out, she missed his call. He tried again; she had plans. Each moved on, marrying other people and having two children apiece.
And then, they shared something else: Both lost their mates. O'Neill's husband died in when he fell asleep at the wheel on his way home from work. Two years later, Kelly's wife succumbed to breast cancer. When Cathy O'Neill wrote a condolence note, he was so moved by her sentiments that he picked up the phone. They met at a local restaurant, and Cupid's arrow finally hit the mark. The couple wed in and live in Flossmoor. But not all endings are so happy. One Chicago-area woman told of how her husband of 20 years contacted an old junior high girlfriend on the Internet--and, a few months later, moved out.
Nancy Kalish, author of "Lost and Found Lovers" has been studying reunited sweethearts--both successful and otherwise--since , gathering data from more than 3, couples, located in a variety of ways, including newspaper ads. But when couples reunite, and for all the right reasons, it's terrific--and the years just melt away, she said. I have all these wrinkles that I didn't have before,'" Kalish said.
You both see each other the way you looked at