Mike opened up another card. His mother had died recently and he was still receiving sympathy cards from friends, family and acquaintances. This card was from a woman he had not seen in over 25 years – an old flame from his university years. He had not thought of her in years. He started reminiscing about those times and the fun they had together. He tried to remember what had gone wrong between them and why he had married his current wife instead of her. He looked back down at the card. She’d included her phone number and an invitation to ‘catch up’ with each other. Should he call?
The divorce rate for first marriages is close to 50% and even higher for second and third marriages. The divorce rate for marriages of old flames who marry after 15, 20 and 30+ years is only 3-4%. According to Nancy Kalish, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at California State University who is studying former lovers who reunite, 60% of reunions last.
We are drawn to the familiar. We don’t have to get to know a former lover, an old flame knows us and we know them. We already know their history and who they are. We always remember the younger person we fell in love with. In a new relationship we will never know the younger person inside the way we know a former lover.
We are living much longer now so it’s possible to have a marriage of 20-25 years, get divorced and have another marriage of 20-25 years. Many people are looking up an old love at reunions and on the Internet. Modern technology makes it so easy today.
Often though, when we remember an old love, we remember the part of the relationship that was good. This is especially true if we are unhappily married, or alone and longing for a love and companionship. So it’s important to remember why that relationship broke up – what went wrong. If neither of you has changed, then you might recreate the problems that were there before and be hurt again.
Dr. Kalish warns that rekindled relationship are intense. Before you do your search on Facebook or go to a reunion think it through.
With care and concern,
Dr. Bea Mackay
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