Nancy Kalish, Ph.D.

Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances


Some people do keep yearning for Lost Lovers, and even searching for them, though they may not even remember their Lost Loversí names.

One morning, as I was looking over my mail in the Psychology Department mailroom, I heard someone call my name. I turned and saw a middle-aged man standing at the door. He asked if I had time to talk to him in my office. I had a class to teach within a few minutes, so I asked him to return during my office hours, when I would be happy to see him. Clearly disappointed, he launched into a quick version of his situation: He had learned about my Lost Love Project and asked if I could help him find a woman who had attended California State University at Sacramento with him almost twenty years earlier. Although I told him that I do not reunite people, he kept right on talking.

He was clearly in turmoil, so I listened. The woman had been a psychology major, as had he, and he sat next to her in many of their classes. They studied together sometimes, and even went out on a few dates. I suggested that our college alumni association would probably forward a letter to her, if they had her current address. Then she could, if she chose, contact him. I told him that that had worked for me.

No, he said, the alumni association had already told him they could not find her, because he did not know her name. No last name, no first name, not even initials. It was a long time ago, he said. But how, I asked, did he think I could find her without a name? He admitted that he really had no idea.

This was not the only time people asked me to find nameless past loves. Other Searchers knew the name but not the spelling, or had very sketchy information about where the Lost Lovers might be. So they sent me photographs of their Lost Lovers as they appeared years ago. A few writers described their Lost Loversí physical characteristics (in case I might happen to run into these people in my daily travels):

***HE STANDS ABOUT SIX FEET three inches and the last I knew weighed one hundred forty to one hundred sixty pounds. He has dark brown hair, and a Ďhare lipí on the left side.***
Despite all of my efforts to stress in radio and television interviews that I was conducting psychological research on Lost and Found Lovers who had already been reunited, many people wrote to me after my appearances to ask me to find their Lost Lovers. Often they had tuned in during the middle of the interview and had not heard the description of the study.

Once I appeared on a national talk show that inaccurately labeled me on screen as someone who reunites Lost Lovers. Of course this caused a flood of letters from people of all ages. I wrote back to all of them, telling them about the purpose of my Lost Love Project, and explaining that I was not reuniting anyone. Sometimes I wrote a short note at the bottom of the letter, suggesting easy methods of relocating missing people, such as asking a former employer, school, or family member of the Lost Lover to forward a letter.

When I learned that this talk show would be rerun two months later, I asked the producers to correct the labeling. The correction accurately explained the purpose of my research, but I received just as many letters as before asking me to find Lost Lovers. One man definitely overestimated the size of the Lost Love Projectís staff (I am it), as well as its purpose; he must have assumed that I had personally reunited all the couples in my study:

***AFTER SEEING A REPRESENTATIVE FROM your organization on Leeza, I felt that you might be able to assist me. Approximately thirty-two years ago I attended a summer camp in New Hampshire. It was a Lutheran Church camp. While attending this camp I met a girl by the name of [name deleted]. She is the very first girl I ever had a crush on. After attending this camp, we wrote to each other a number of times, but for some reason we stopped.

The last I heard she resided in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I attempted to contact her through the Cambridge Lutheran Church, but had no luck doing so. I made this attempt a couple of years ago. But since seeing Leeza, and seeing what your organization is capable of doing, I thought I would give it one last chance. I donít even know if she would remember me.***
My guess, based on the Lost Love Project, is that she would remember him very well. Will some woman read this and recognize that she fits his description?

Selected Works

Nonfiction. NEW IN PAPERBACK. 2005.
Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances
Kalish's landmark study of lost love reunions, including love stories in the couples' own words. NEW in PAPERBACK, 2005.
The Lost Love Chronicles: Reunions & Memories of First Love
Delightful, heartbreaking, remarkable, and inspiring true stories of early love.