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By: Vincent M. Mallozzi for the New York Times

Six months into their budding relationship, Peter Travers sat beside Caroline Walradt on a sofa at her home in South Brunswick, N.J. “I have something to say to you,” Mr. Travers, a father of four who was going through a divorce, announced on that spring day in 2014.

Ms. Walradt, a widow whose friendship with Mr. Travers seemed to be turning a romantic corner, was fixed on his every word.

“Peter had turned toward me in a very serious manner,” she recalled. “So I’m sitting there and thinking to myself, ‘Oh wow, what could this be.’”

When his intense stare gave way to a soft smile, Ms. Walradt began to wonder if Mr. Travers might be poised to use the “L word,” which had not yet come up in conversation.

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