Why ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert ‘Didn’t Want To Know’ if Rob Lowe Cheated on Her

Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert and A New Kind of Family‘s Rob Lowe started dating when they were 17. When they got together, Lowe was still in the beginning stages of his career. But after The Outsiders premiered, he became a huge star, which meant Lowe was suddenly on the receiving end of a lot of female attention. In her autobiography, Prairie Tale, Gilbert wrote about needing to “put blinders on” to Lowe’s behavior in an effort to save their relationship.

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

Melissa Gilbert’s life changed after ‘The Outsider’ premiered, too

It wasn’t just Lowe’s life that changed after Francis Ford Coppola’s big-screen adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel, The Outsiders, came out. When Gilbert and Lowe weren’t working on different projects, they were attached at the hip.

RELATED: Why Martin Sheen Told ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert She Should Quit Acting

“What changed with me and Rob was our privacy,” wrote Gilbert. “Although I was very recognizable when Rob and I fell in love, we were able to go about our lives, see movies, and have dinner in a restaurant without being stopped or interrupted for more than the occasional autograph. But after The Outsiders was released, Rob and I saw what privacy we had left get absolutely obliterated.”

Melissa Gilbert felt jealous for the first time when she was with Rob Lowe

Gilbert wasn’t a particularly jealous person prior to dating Lowe (though he was her first serious boyfriend). But it was hard not to be jealous when women literally “stuffed their phone numbers into Rob’s pockets.”

“These were not girls my age with a crush on him,” wrote Gilbert. “Grown women, including major celebrities, hit on him. They were very direct and frequently very graphic about what they wanted and were willing to do for him.”

Gilbert often felt as though she couldn’t compete.

“It was the first time I felt strong pangs of jealousy,” she wrote. “The pretty surfer-girl blonds, beautiful, sexy Farrah-like blonds, and supergorgeous, Catherine Deneuve-like blonds seemed to materialize wherever we went. I could never be that blond no matter how hard I tried.”

Melissa Gilbert thinks Rob Lowe ‘fooled around whenever possible’

Gilbert writes that she doesn’t know for sure, but thinks Lowe “fooled around whenever possible.”

Now that she’s a mother with sons who are around Lowe’s age then, she understands.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert at "The Hotel New Hampshire" West Hollywood Premiere on March 1, 1984
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

RELATED: The Role ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert Played That Had Her Concerned for Her Safety — ‘Someone Might Want To Shoot Me’

“I don’t know how any guy that age would say no,” she wrote. “Boys that age are walking erections. chicks are the whole reason they live. In addition, Rob was funny, charming, and gorgeous. He was irresistible. These stunning girls who looked great on the beach and didn’t have to wear pajamas over their bikinis [like Gilbert did as a teenager] pursued him. It was free candy. Of course he was going to sample them.”

So what did Gilbert do? She tried not to notice.

“The only way I could preserve what we had was to put blinders on,” she wrote. “I didn’t want to know what he was doing. It scared the hell out of me.”