Terry Farley lost touch with her high school boyfriend, Steve Downey, after graduating, as is the most natural course of things. Yet, Terry still had fond memories of their relationship. When Steve appeared as a suggested connection on LinkedIn, Terry was nothing short of shocked.
The two had originally met in 1971 at a Catholic youth organization conference in Washington, D.C., when Downey was 16 and Farley was 14.
He was Terry’s first love
At the conference, Steve noticed Susan right away. “I remember seeing this very cute young woman across the room,” he recalls. “In those days she had very curly blonde hair.”
“I just thought he was the cutest thing I ever saw,” Terry said. “We just hit it off.”
Steve asked her for her phone number and eventually asked her out after he gathered the nerves for it! And he waited for every high school dance, to see Terry again.
“The great thing about going to an all-boy Catholic high school was that there were monthly dances that you could pretty much set your watch by,” he says. “And these were events of high anticipation and high anxiety.”
I had never been on a date before, so he was, per my father, required to come to the door and to meet my father. My family fell in love with him.Terry Farley
They dated all through high school and kept in touch for a while even after they went to different colleges. Eventually, they lost touch.
They both married different people
Life went on, and they both started their own lives and families. Then, in 2004, Steve’s wife Cathy was diagnosed with cancer.
“She was in remission for about a year or so, and the cancer came back,” he says. “She passed away in August of 2009, the day before my birthday.”
After her death, once he was done mourning, Steve’s friends encouraged him to start dating again, but he wasn’t interested.
“I wasn’t looking for another relationship,” he says.
I guess I was in my mid-50s at that time, and I just assumed that I was just moving into a different phase, one where I would be by myself. I was alone, but I was OK with that.Steve Downey
At the same time, Terry’s marriage was ending. She went through a rough divorce and was trying to navigate life on her own. Like Steve, she wasn’t looking to date quite yet either.
Then one day, she found him on LinkedIn
In 2012, Steve’s picture showed up as a potential connection on Terry’s LinkedIn. All the memories of her high school love story came back flooding. But Susan hesitated to take that first step and add him. “I did not message him because … I didn’t want to pop into his life,” Terry said. “So I just sort of looked at the picture and reminisced a little.”
I was not going to be the old girlfriend that popped out of nowhere and said, ‘Remember me?’Terry Farley
But technology would have it otherwise. As most people know, LinkedIn notifies account owners whenever someone checks out their page. This is how Steve and Terry’s love story was given a second chance.
Just completely by accident I went to the section of LinkedIn where you see a list of people who have looked at your profile,” he says, “and I see this name: ‘Teresa Farley has looked at your profile,’ and I thought ‘Well, that is a name I have not heard in quite a long time.’Steve Downey
Steve took a leap of faith
Unlike Terry, Steve decided to take a leap and message his new LinkedIn connection. “Hey Terry, it’s Steve. Hope you’re well,” Steve wrote.
At first, she didn’t respond, and he figured she wasn’t interested in reconnecting. But a few weeks later, he received a reply.
“Well … a few weeks later, she writes back with her long life story,” Steve says. “And I open up the email and I read it, and in the midst of all of her explanation she reveals that she has been divorced. And I remember reading that line and calling up my best friend saying, ‘Guess what? She’s single.'”
Their correspondence evolved from writing longer and more intimate emails, to talking on the phone. Finally they decided to spend a weekend together.
“I had a friend who was convinced that I was going to meet my demise at the hands of a mass murderer and insisted that the moment I got there I was to call her to say that I was all right and was not being held hostage,” Steve says.
Thankfully, that was not the case. Instead, he immediately remembered her.
When I first saw her, I saw in that person the young person that I had known.
Terry didn’t notice Steve’s gray hair. “I saw my teenage crush,” she says.
Things just fell into place. Still today he makes me feel like a teenager. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.Terry Farley
Take a chance on love
The couple married on March 21, 2015 — 44 years after they first met as teenagers.
“The most remarkable part of all this is the fact that that I had a wonderful, caring, nurturing marriage and it made me the person I am today,” Steve says, “and now, I get to do it again.”
If there is anything we can learn from Steve and Terry, it’s that sometimes, it’s worth taking a leap of faith when it comes to love. While these two went through loss and divorce respectively, they still decided to give themselves another chance at love.
More uplifting stories: