After 16 Years Apart, I Reunited With The Love Of My Life

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man and woman holding hands

Seven years ago, I turned lemons into digital lemonade when my first book, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online was published. The book chronicled my Internet dating stories and provided online dating advice from when I began my cyber journey for love over 20 years ago.

One always wonders about the one that got away.

After seven years together with the man I refer to as the "Love of my Life," we went our separate ways. I thought I'd never hear from him again.

That was — until he read about himself in my book.

When I published my first book in 2009, I started out searching online to replace the former love of my life with an Internet mate. Although there was a stigma with online dating 20+ years ago, I was convinced as a technology executive, it would be a piece of the digital cake.

I quickly learned how to create an irresistible dating profile and started coaching singles looking for love online. Life went on a digital pixel and then a swipe at a time until the day I received a notification on Facebook from the love of my life. I thought he was married and almost didn’t reply.

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It was one year ago, shortly after Valentine's Day, that I read his comment, which changed my life.

Out of the blue, he wrote a book review for my book on Facebook, which said, “The book hit home. Julie has nailed it.”

It turned out he recently got divorced and had kept a digital eye on me by reading my blog and perusing photos on Facebook. I had no idea. He actually tried to contact me a year and a half earlier, but his email went to a spam folder. I never saw it. It was just as well. We weren’t ready to meet just yet.

It took him weeks to finish reading the book, as he was filled with emotion reading the stories about our love life, fairytale romance, and tearful breakup. He bought the book seeking dating advice, as he was newly single.

I had no idea that my book, which helped heal my heart and those of others when our relationship was over, would suddenly bring us back together again a decade and a half later.

I wasn’t sure I was ready for this.

My book included a lot of happy stories, but the “ride into the sunset” Hollywood ending didn’t appear in the last chapter of my book. I figured I could write a sequel one day with a happy ending for the world to see.

In the Lost Love Project, headed by Dr. Nancy Kalish from California State University in Sacramento, she surveyed 1,001 participants aged 18-89 and found that 72 percent of couples stayed together, with two-thirds resulting in marriage or engagement.

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When the love of my life and I reunited for the first time after 16 years apart, we were both a bit nervous. A lot had happened in over a decade and a half; too much to share in one meeting. We both wondered if the chemistry would still be there, or if it would be a one-time-only conversation to go down memory lane and then continue on our separate paths.

When our eyes locked for the first time, we were both instantly reminded of how it felt the day we fell in love at first sight from across a crowded room 23 years earlier. He showed up holding 16 long-stemmed roses. There were eight perfect ruby red roses and eight pure white roses. Each rose represented one of the 16 lost years we had been apart.

We hugged, we smiled, and we connected. We were older, and wiser, but had too much history not to feel a spark. We stared at the beautiful Pacific Ocean at Shutters hotel, the place he had wanted to meet me at a year and a half earlier when his email went into my spam folder.

Little did I know, he actually showed up that day and waited for me in a When Harry Met Sally moment that never happened.

The years of history flooded my head and my mind wondered if I should open my heart, or keep this book slammed shut. I felt like we could pick up where we left off, but how does one do that without getting hurt? He was grayer and I was thinner. We both had similar life lessons apart, but never stopped loving each other. That's all that mattered.

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Both of us expected there could be a connection, but weren't sure if we should rekindle our romance.  I didn't want to be his transition person and wondered if the deep love and familiarity that we once had could be enough to start another chapter. Neither of us had the answers on our first meeting, but we were open to the possibilities and were happy to have reconnected.

On his way home, he sent me a text, which said, "I should have kissed you hard." I replied, "Another regret?" He quickly replied, "No, there's still time."

We got together a few times casually before we decided to take the plunge. He arrived at one of my book signing events to get his personal copy of The Perils of Cyber-Dating autographed by the author and to take photos of the event. Pictures of that special moment were posted on Instagram and Facebook. We became official.

Together we wrote the epilogue to my book, which I narrated. It indeed has a Hollywood happy ending to warm your heart and make you believe in love.

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Julie Spira is America's top online dating expert and Mobile Dating Expert.