Julie Spira, author of the best-selling book, “The Perils of Cyber-Dating.” Photo by Curious Josh.

When the One That Got Away Comes Back


Singles in dating mode can spend considerable time looking for love, but more often than not, it’s love that finds them — and often when they least expect it.

Julie Spira, author of the best-selling book, “The Perils of Cyber-Dating.” Photo by Curious Josh.
Julie Spira, author of the bestselling book, “The Perils of Cyber-Dating.” Photo by Curious Josh.

Almost 24 year ago, lighting struck and two strangers who were staring at each other from across a crowded room fell in love at first sight. It sounds like a romance novel or a movie, but this was my life.

We fell in love instantly on that day and stayed together for seven years. It felt like we’d be together forever. Sadly, the relationship ran its course. I was ready to get married and he wasn’t. We ended up parting ways, knowing the love we had would never fade. Later, we both married other people, just five days apart, even though deep inside, we knew we were soulmates and each other’s “one that got away.”

I chose to write about our breakup, and the subsequent relationships that followed in my bestselling book, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online, which was released seven years ago on Valentine’s Day. I had a series of several-year relationships, including one marriage during our time apart. I was convinced that I could easily replace him with an Internet mate and first started dating online in 1994 and chronicled my stories. Cosmo called me the “pioneer of online dating.” I started coaching singles on how to find love online over 20 years ago, one click at a time, and now one swipe at a time. Life went on.

Then after 16 years of no contact, he came back. Facebook played Cupid with the man I referred to as the “love of my life.”

It happened when I unexpectedly heard from him when he posted a book review on the Cyber-Dating Expert Facebook page. I almost didn’t respond. I thought he was married and it caught me off guard. Why open a door that I had slammed shut? Then I looked at his relationship status and noticed it had been changed to “single.”

Cyber-Dating expert Julie Spira with the man who found her again, some 16 years after they’d each gone their separate ways. Lee Brubaker Photography
Cyber-Dating expert Julie Spira with the man who found her again, some 16 years after they’d each gone their separate ways. Lee Brubaker Photography.

It turned out that early last year, the LOML had gotten divorced. He had been secretly watching me on Facebook and had purchased my book in search of dating advice thinking he’d be newly single and could use some help. When he read the book for the first time, much to his surprise, he found out that a good portion was about him and our romance. He knew he had to connect with me again, even if it was just to catch up and say hello. We had once fallen in love at first sight. No one forgets a love like that. We had to see if the spark was still there. There was no choice. I had to respond.

We met at one of our favorite spots, Shutters in Santa Monica, and discovered that the magic and chemistry was still there. Always a romantic, he arrived with 16 long-stemmed roses. Each rose represented one of the 16 years we had been apart. After catching up on our mutual lives, we decided to embark on the journey together once again as a couple. It was time for Act Three.

Dr. Helen Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer of Match and a biological anthropologist, says rekindled romances can be powerful. “We are built to love and never forget the person we were deeply in love with,” says Fisher. “If the timing is right and they come back, the brain circuitry for romantic love can be awakened almost instantly to be back in love again.”

Together, the love of my life and I wrote the epilogue to my book with the happy ending readers really wanted to see. I went into the studio and decided to record the audio book version so I could share my powerful stories, in my own voice and in our words. In this completely revised edition, just released for Valentine’s Day, it includes bonus audio dating advice and the magical epilogue with the fairy tale ending.

The 2nd edition of the book is available on Amazon Kindle, Audible, and iTunes. It was time to share our happy ending with the world and to give hope to others that the one who got away just might return someday, for a new chapter, a friendship, or a second chance at love.

How to Make a Second Chance at Love Work

Rekindled romances are easy to find with social media. A simple Google search, Linkedin request or Facebook profile is all one needs when they feel the need to reconnect with a long-lost love. What happens afterwards is the tricky part.

Here are a few tips to consider if you decide you want to reunite with someone from your past.

  1. Learn what happened in their life when you were apart.

When we reconnected, we spent hours and hours talking about what our lives were like during the time we weren’t together. I asked a lot of questions, only to find out we both had similar life experiences apart. Once we realized that we had great empathy for each other and still cared for each other deeply, we decided to move forward, a day at a time.

  1. Spend time in each other’s present life.

As a couple, we not only reunited with each other, but with each other’s families as well, who welcomed us with open arms. Geography has turned us into a long-distance relationship, so we spend most weekends and holidays together. There are weekday gaps because we both have busy separate lives. We stay connected through daily texts and calls. You could say we are living as individuals and as a couple.

  1. Recognize that you’re different people now.

To make a rekindled romance work, know that you can’t pick up exactly where you left off. Both of us took the time to acknowledge the differences that took place during our time apart. Political views changed and sleeping habits differed. We now both require reading glasses that we happily share. Debates are part of our dialog. It actually keeps the conversations interesting.

  1. Don’t Live in the past. Forgive and forget.

We chose as individuals and as a couple to remember the good things about our relationship. While at first, my memories of him were of a much-younger version, in time, those became the distant memories. After we caught up on everything that happened in our past, it was time to live in the present and to accept each other exactly as we are now. Together we are making new memories, one moment at a time.

  1. Keep the romance alive.

The two of us were hopeful romantics when we first met in our 30s and we still are today. We still send handwritten cards to each other like we had years ago, but they’re now joined with text messages filled with hearts and emoticons. He brings me my tea in the morning and makes me breakfast in bed. I constantly remind him how he’s the sexiest man on the planet.

  1. Take it slow.

While reuniting was an incredible feeling for us, I insisted we take things slowly at first and told him that if we were meant to be, we would be. Time would tell. When people ask us how long we’ve been together, sometimes we say that it’s a new love and other times, we say we’ve been together for 24 years. Either way, it’s exactly where we want to be right now.

Julie Spira Cyber-Dating Expert

Julie Spira is America’s Top Online Dating Expert and the CEO and founder of Cyber-Dating Expert. She is a frequent guest in the media and has appeared in over 650 stories about dating, love, and technology. She ranks as the most influential person in social media in the subjects of dating and online dating. Visit CyberDatingExpert.com, where you can sign up for the free Weekly Flirt newsletter and follow @JulieSpira on Twitter.



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