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THE DATING GAME: Gotta drop the past to get to the future

One of the other stops on The Dating Game's summer (vacation) tour was on the coast of Costa Rica, known for its beautiful beaches and splendid surfing.

And plenty of relationship discoveries.

It was there, in Playa Jaco, at the Hotel Poseidon bar, that I met Randy and Susan. The married couple had decided their life in Montreal had become too monotonous. The corporate lifestyle, the hectic pace - all of those self-induced stress producers were affecting their happiness. So they decided to sell everything, buy an open-ended ticket and travel to the west coast of Costa Rica.

They found Jaco beach and became rejuvenated again. She picked up some tourism jobs, helping English-speaking travelers find fun excursions. He turned to his construction skills and had a small business remodeling hotels and homes to become handicap accessible.

They sat at the bar and recounted how the day their deadline for return airline tickets came and went.

''You know what day this is,'' Susan asked Randy at the time. "We're supposed to leave to go back today.''

And they said they looked at each other, grinned and laughed, and realized how much better off they were starting a new life and a renewed relationship.

Their story got me thinking how similar relationships are, no matter where in the world they take place.

Take for instance our taxi cab driver to Playa Hermosa, Rodrigo, who told me how he met his girlfriend at a club. He was working security there, and she was in a sad state, having discovered her ex-boyfriend had cheated on her. Trying to cheer her up that night, Rodrigo developed a rapport with his future girl. After her third visit to the club, he recalled, he asked her out. (Wow, persistence does pay off.)

The trip also took a twist for me. On previous visits, I had developed a relationship with a young woman I had met through friends of my family. Yesica was a bartender in the capital city of San Jose and we had developed a close relationship. I had met her daughter and her mother on previous trips while she saved money to improve her situation. We tried to date for a while (talk about being geographically undesirable!) but in the end, the distance wasn't in our favor, and we met other people closer to home.

So on this recent trip I stopped by her bar to see if she was working, and to say hello. I spotted her friend Andrea who filled me in with surprising news.

''She's married now. She's pregnant, too,'' Andrea said. "And she lives in Miami.''

I was stunned? Miami? Was she my neighbor?

''Let me call her,'' Andrea said.

Yesica and I spoke briefly on the phone and we discovered that we actually lived 10 blocks from each other.

''You should meet my friends here, build your network of friends,'' I suggested after she said she didn't know too many people. ''That sounds like a good idea,'' she replied.

Yesica said she would call. But she didn't. When I returned to Miami, no voice mails or text messages.

I guess, like the couple from Canada, she wanted to break old ties and start a new life.

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