NEW YORK (AP) – They kiss on a yacht off Saint-Tropez. They hug each other on a walk in the Hamptons. They graze sushi at dinner in Malibu.
If PDA were an Olympic sport, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck would be champions. But there’s something more that sparks interest in Bennifer: the storybook nature of long-lost love.
The A-listers rekindled their romance 17 years after their split in 2004. It’s a familiar road to countless couples who have reunited years after breaking up.
The two stars spoke of intense tabloid pressure as a factor in canceling their engagement when, with Lopez telling People in 2016, “I think of another time, another thing, who knows what might have happened? But there was real love there.
While the tabloids aren’t a problem for regular people who have revived themselves, true love is universal no matter what got in the way the first time around.
“She never left my thoughts. There was something about her, something in her soul, her spirit that I felt like I was drawn to even as I got older, ”Matt Escobar Sr., 43, said of his wife, Jessica.
The Merced, Calif. Couple, him program director of a youth center and she a nurse, met in an eighth-grade math class after Escobar was sent to live with an uncle just outside Seattle. to escape his troubled youth in New York.
They had their first kiss on a walk in the woods that year, but Escobar’s temperamental behavior continued, including arrests for theft and assault. He was deported and sent back to the east, where he landed in a detention center.
Other problems followed, including a stint on the street, and the two lost contact for 15 years before Escobar found her on Classmates.com in 2006. In between, there were marriages, kids, moves and jobs, but Jessica never forgot.
His longtime best friend “would always say that no one could ever live up to Matt. Even though he was flustered, you know, he was still very, very respectful and just very funny and very warm and very kind and n ‘didn’t like what people might imagine in their heads about a child who got into trouble, ”she said.
They married in 2013 and had six children between them.
“It was such a blessing to find her back in my life after all the hard times I had been through,” said Escobar.
Meg Calkins, a 56-year-old teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Steve Badger, a lawyer of the same age, became close friends in Indianapolis in fifth grade. They stayed in the Friends Zone until high school, but became college sweethearts, just briefly.
“I took the first step,” Calkins said with a laugh. “I said, ‘I have a bit of a crush on you. ′ We’ve always had a connection because we love to talk to each other and we understand each other’s humor.”
After a few months, the two left for summer programs abroad. It was then that Calkins met someone else. She was 20 years old. She got married at 23.
And that was it for Badger.
Five years passed and Calkins’ marriage ended in divorce. A second marriage didn’t work out either, after 20 years. Badger got married while studying law. This union lasted 29 years, before the divorce.
For 30 years, Calkins and Badger saw each other once, at their 20th high school reunion.
“He didn’t speak to me,” she recalls.
Badger added, “I didn’t. I wasn’t very nice about it.
The two found themselves free in 2019. ”Facebook would always tell me, oh, you should be friends with Steve Badger, but I never met him because I thought he was so mad at me about our awkward breakup, ”Calkins said.
He wasn’t. He got over it. He ended up contacting himself on Facebook after his divorce. They chatted online, then Badger drove 100 miles to have lunch with Calkins in Louisville, Ky., Where his daughter was playing in a volleyball tournament.
“I kept staring at Steve and his eyes were exactly the same as when he was 20,” Calkins said. “It’s like there is a kindness and an intellect emanating from his eyes. One of the things I really love about him is that he’s the smartest person I know. And he’s also the nicest.
The two moved in together just three weeks ago after maintaining a long-distance relationship during the pandemic.
“I don’t really like the person I was at 21, and I also don’t like the person I was in high school,” Calkins said. “But I love who I am now, and I think that’s an important thing to consider to rekindle relationships for sure.”
Clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, author of “Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Without Fear,” agreed.
“Relationships that are renewed after many years can actually flourish in certain situations, especially if both partners are emotionally intelligent and self-aware,” she said. “If partners were really connected and well-matched but found life issues bothered them, reconnecting later in life can be delicious and deeply rewarding.”
Manly has seen an increase in rekindled romantic matches in the digital age with the ease of internet search and social media. But the quest doesn’t always pay off.
“Sometimes former partners give too much hope and effort to resurrect a relationship that was never meant to be,” she said.
Tammy Shaklee, the founder of an LGBTQ matchmaking business in Austin, Texas, warned the reasons for a breakup could still exist years later. Some traits don’t change drastically, she said.
“Introverts versus extroverts is a great example. People returning from a previous relationship who think those traits will be different this time around will likely end up where they were last time, ”Shaklee said.
The maturing process, however, can sometimes go a long way to a happy ending.
Page Jordan in Dallas was a 19-year intern in commercial real estate brokerage where 25-year-old Jake Jordan was working when they started dating while still in college. She graduated and they broke up after three years.
“She had just graduated from school and I started to get a little more serious about it. I think it scared her a little, ”Jake said.
Page added, “Yes, at that time I was not in a place I wanted to settle. I had just taken my first job and I was freelance for the first time and I kind of wanted to take advantage of it. And he had started his own business and he was very stressed and didn’t handle the stress with a lot of patience, I would say.
The two reconnected in 2019. They tied the knot on March 27 of this year. So how does he deal with stress now, at 40?
“Much better,” Page said. “He’s so much more patient, and I think I’m better at handling that and being aware and respectful when he’s got a lot going on.”
Jake sees something so important: “We still cared deeply about each other.”
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