Melissa Gilbert Once Admitted Her and Rob Lowe’s Physical Attraction to One Another Was ‘Almost Intrusive’

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert had an intense relationship with Rob Lowe in the ’80s. From the moment Lowe asked Gilbert out, they were attached at the hip. In her memoir, Prairie Tale, Gilbert recalls her “almost intrusive” physical attraction to the Brat Packer.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

How Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe started dating

Gilbert and Lowe met for the first time when they were 14. But they didn’t start dating until about three years later. Lowe and Gilbert made eye contact while sitting in traffic in Los Angeles. They rolled down their windows and Lowe asked Gilbert where she was headed. She told him she was going to pick out a dress for an upcoming event and that he should meet her there when he was done with his audition (where he was going). Lowe never showed up at the dress shop, but he gave Gilbert a call a few days later.

“We had a fun, easy conversation and he asked me out on a date,” Gilbert wrote in her memoir. “I said yes, and I don’t remember a thing after that. Not where we went or what we did. All I remember is that I felt like I got hit on the head with a brick. I fell instantly, hopelessly, and stupidly in love.”

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe had intense chemistry

From their very first date, Gilbert and Lowe were a couple.

“I never wanted to be away from his side,” wrote Gilbert. “We went from first date to instant couple—just add water. Almost overnight everything was suddenly all Rob or all Rob and Melissa.”

Gilbert had experienced her first love with her Splendor in the Grass co-star Cyril O’Reilly. But her feelings for Lowe were even more intense.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“I remembered my acting teacher Jeff Corey describing love as a hunger throughout your entire body,” wrote Gilbert. “He was right. I felt like I was starving for Rob. I wanted to bite him.”

Like Gilbert, Lowe was a goner when it came to his new girlfriend.

“He wrote me poetry. He left notes. He cooed the sweetest messages into my answering machine,” wrote Gilbert.

Gilbert and Lowe’s connection was so intense that people couldn’t help but take notice when they were in public together.

“The physical attraction between us was palpable, almost intrusive,” wrote Gilbert. “People would get between us, see the way we looked at each other, like two sides of a vise closing in on them, and you could see them think, Uh-oh, watching the two of you hurts the back of my head. It’s painful. I have to get away from this.

Why Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe broke up

Lowe proposed to Gilbert in 1986. But after the Little House actor told her fiancé that she was pregnant they broke up. Lowe decided he wasn’t ready to be a husband or a father.

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe
Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe | Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“It ran its course. I think we were just too young,” Gilbert told Today in 2009.

After their split, Gilbert had a miscarriage.

“I had lost my baby and my relationship with Rob … and it hurt like hell,” she wrote.