The Second Time
The Internet and social networking venues such as Facebook have made reunions as easy as the click of your mouse. In some cases this is a great thing. Meeting old classmates and talking about old times is very pleasurable. There's nothing wrong with a walk down Memory Lane and most of us are suckers for nostalgia. But what happens when you look up—and find—an old lover?
Dr. Nancy Kalish decided to discover exactly that and interviewed 1001 people from all over the world for her Lost Love Project. The data generated from her project, initiated in 1993, became the basis for a book; Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances (William Morrow Inc., 1997). Kalish discovered that two thirds of those who answered her questionnaire were 17 years old or younger when their early relationships took place. Those couples attempting to renew their relationships had a success rate of over 70%.
However, Dr. Kalish began her research prior to the burgeoning of the World Wide Web. Her newest research on the topic of reuniting with lost loves was conducted between the years 2005-2006 and comprises data from 1600 participants who discovered each other online. The major difference between this study and the earlier one performed by Dr. Kalish is that the majority of the participants in the updated survey are married. These old lovers find themselves in intense emotional turmoil often leading to extramarital affairs with the old flames, and the breakup of formerly stable marriages.
Dr. Kalish says that imaging studies show that a part of the teenaged brain lights up when in love and that this part of the brain is also active in cocaine addicts. Reuniting with an old flame excites these areas of the brain once more, so that the subjects feel the feelings they felt all those years ago as teens. The feeling is addictive and the participants have a great deal of trouble leaving a situation that threatens their marriages.
Dr. Kalish advises those who find themselves embroiled in just this situation to follow these steps toward recovery:
*Allow yourself time to heal—it can take three years to get past the addictive feelings
*Sever all contact—don't look at photos or mementos that remind you of him. Don't listen to songs that make you think of him. Don't visit real or virtual places that speak to you of him. Tell your friends not to let you speak of him. You need to go cold-turkey.
*The loss of your old lover can upset your chemical balance and plunge you into a clinical depression. Obsession with all things connected to him may be a symptom. See your physician about medication if you think you may be depressed.
*Fill the hours to keep your mind off of him.
*Make the split be about your own sense of self: He was not good for you. The relationship was not good for you. It is your choice to move on.
*Place a note somewhere you can see it but your spouse cannot. It should read:
(So and so) is married.
(So and so) lives with his wife (her name) and their kids (their names).
Every day (He) chooses to live with (Her).
Every day (He) chooses not to live with me.