Melissa Gilbert Wasn’t Over Rob Lowe When She Married Bo Brinkman

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe had a passionate on-and-off relationship that lasted about 6 years. Lowe asked the Little House on the Prairie actor to marry him and she said yes, but the couple called off the engagement after learning Gilbert was pregnant. Lowe told her he couldn’t be a father, husband, or boyfriend. So they parted ways. After their breakup, Gilbert had a miscarriage.

Then, Gilbert started dating playwright Bo Brinkman. After only six weeks of dating, he asked her to marry him and she said yes. In her memoir, Prairie Tale, Gilbert admits that she wasn’t quite over Lowe when she and Brinkman got together.

Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe in 1987
Melissa Gilbert and Rob Lowe in 1987 | Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Melissa Gilbert told Rob Lowe it was never going to work between them

After Gilbert and Lowe called off their engagement, they kept in contact every now and then. Before she started seeing Brinkman, Lowe came to visit her in New York City just after Christmas. He stayed with her for a could of days and they had a wonderful time. Gilbert even suspected she could have rekindled their relationship if she wanted to, but she knew it could never work.

“As much as it pained me, I came to the conclusion that we couldn’t be together in the same room unless we were really going to be together, and that was impossible because neither one of us was ready to make that commitment, especially Rob,” she wrote.

When they said goodbye, Gilbert felt in her heart that they “were parting forever as lovers.”

Rob Lowe was ‘very hurt’ when he learned Melissa Gilbert got married

Gilbert learned way after she married Brinkman that Lowe had been in town (New York City) during the small ceremony. And news traveled fast.

Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert
Bo Brinkman and Melissa Gilbert | Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“I didn’t need too much hindsight to know that I failed to handle the situation as well as I should have,” she wrote. “Despite the conversation I’d had with Rob precipitating his departure after Christmas, I apparently still needed to make it clear to myself and to him that it was over, really over, between us. Which, by the way, it wasn’t. So what did I do? I married a stranger, someone I didn’t know at all.”

The first time Melissa saw Rob after she married Bo, she thought they ‘should be together’

Shortly after Gilbert married Brinkman in New York, she brought him home to meet her Los Angeles friends and family.

“My mother hosted a reception at her house,” she wrote. “Rob showed up and brought Chynna Phillips, then enjoying stardom with the singing group Wilson Phillips.”

As soon as Gilbert saw Lowe, her “guts twisted into knots.”

“I thought, What the hell are we doing? I am married to a guy I barely know and there you are with that beautiful woman and we should be together,” she wrote.

When the former Little House on the Prairie actor saw her dog start to jump up and down and whimper at the sight of Lowe, she had to walk away. She avoided him for the rest of the night.