The Hidden Danger of High School Reunions and Why You Should Beware

Old flamesThe hidden danger of high school reunions is not what you would initially think.

When I served on the family court bench, I was surprised to find that one going to one’s high school reunion and rekindling an old romance or finding new romance in a former high school friend was a recurring theme in the divorces over which I presided.  So much so, that in my marriage, I refuse to allow my husband to go to his high school reunions alone.

Unfortunately for me, my husband’s high school class was small, and cohesively friendly, so much so that they have had more than one high school reunion during my nearly forty years of marriage.  I can attest that going to someone else’s high school reunion is one of the most boring and tedious tasks that one can undertake.  All that reminiscing about the good old days is lost upon you.  Meeting people for the first time who have history together with your partner means you are mostly left out of the conversation.

Then, add the fact that I was going to police the situation, it is just miserable.  It was not that I did not trust my husband.  Most high school reunions, now involving adults, involve liquor.  I never saw more people drunk in one place than at the high school reunions.  And, the “reunion” is not just one event!

My husband’s reunions took place at a hotel over a weekend.  People met at the bar before the events, and there were multiple events, and met at the bar after the events, on multiple days.  As the spouse/police person who felt that I had been educated as to the hidden danger of high school reunions, not only did I not drink a drop, I had to be present while everyone was getting drunk and be present at all get-togethers to pay attention to what was happening.

Yes, the one danger that comes to mind first, “hook-ups,” or an attempted hook-up with my husband, happened right in front of me, while I, his wife, was sitting right next to him!

My husband and I were sitting on a couch at the bar of the hotel in which the high school reunion was held, after the actual evening dinner event.  I think I was the only person present who was not at least slightly drunk, or who seemed drunk.  There was a large circular ottoman in front of us, large enough to hold a few people.  People were standing and sitting all around us.  It was late, after eleven as I kept looking at my watch.  I wanted nothing more than to leave and go to our room and to bed.  However, being knowledgeable as to what I had frequently heard in my courtroom, I persevered.

A blond woman from the high school class, clearly drunk, sat down on the ottoman in front of us, ignored the conversation going on among those around her and ignored my presence.  She had eyes only for my husband.  She proceeded to gush at my husband about how great he looked and that he deserved best looking man in the class (he actually got an award for that at the event).  I did agree with her that most of the men had not aged well (pictures from high school were on the name badges) but I remained silent.  As she continued, she stated that they should go back to her room together. I must admit I was flabbergasted that she suggested a “hook-up” with my husband, right in front of me, and despite the fact that I, his wife, by that time, sat as close as possible to him with my hand on his leg.

Needless to say, I said to my husband that it was time for us to leave.  My husband agreed.

I unfortunately had a personal experience to confirm my professional theory.  The theory also included that those going to one’s high school reunion and rekindling an old romance or finding new romance in a former high school friend, resulted in the fact that those who did get together and got married after that were happily married.  Nearly forty years ago, a dear friend went to his high school reunion and rekindled his romance with his high school sweetheart.  They married.  I remembered them explaining how the shared history and experiences helped them through the tough spots in marriage.  The memories made reminded them of the importance of creating happy memories throughout one’s partnership.  This happiness was a recurring theme among those who married after reconnecting at a high school reunion.

I lecture on families and marriage, and I always try to mention this tip: Never allow your partner to go to a high school reunion alone.  Everyone chuckles.  I am totally serious.

It seems that there is scientific study confirmation, at least of the lasting happiness and joy of rekindling an old high school romance or finding new romance in a former high school friend, among those who get together and get married.

I, now a retired family court judge, chuckled when I read the first paragraph of a December 12, 2018 Sun Sentinel article, “Old flames, new romance: An ongoing study that began in 1993 found that of the 4,000 participants who found their way back to former loves, 72 percent of them were still together.”

The author, Danielle Braff, wrote:

Linda Waud and Charles “Ben” Waud dated through most of high school and a year of college, and then went their separate ways.

 It wasn’t until they bumped into each other at their 35-year high school reunion that he told her, “I guess it’s time for us to talk.”

 Shortly after the reunion they got married, and the Florida couple have been inseparable for more than two decades.

 “Yes, this can be a beautiful life,” Linda Waud said.

 The article talks about the study by Dr. Nancy Kalish at California State University in Sacramento, which began in 1993 and is ongoing. Dr. Nancy Kalish has a website, “Lost and Found Loves,” and continues study, lecturing, and writing on this phenomenon of reconnecting and the results.

Danielle Braff gave some statistics reported by Dr. Kalish, which are worth reading, as you will be surprised at the great success rate of the marriages from these reconnected high school relationships.  According to Dr. Kalish, ”these romances are a lot faster: They meet for coffee, and then they go to a hotel room,” and she added, “. . . the majority of the people in the study who reconciled began via an affair.”

Coffee and directly to hotel room?  I guess Dr. Kalish found most do not even need the liquor assist!  As a family court judge, I saw the marriage breakups from those affairs.

The Sun Sentinel article taught me that we also must beware of the rekindling of high school relationships via Facebook and the internet.  No meeting former high school classmates alone is my take away from that section, especially not in a bar, and especially not in a hotel bar.  If we take Dr. Kalish’s advice, not even in Starbucks.

Yes, even if you believe your relationship is one of the best and happiest relationships, this tip is one of my top ten tips from a former family court judge: Never allow your partner to go to a high school reunion alone. Beware!











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