Dallas star Patrick Duffy never expected to find love again after his wife of more than 40 years died in 2017. But in a new interview with People, the 71-year-old actor reveals he's now in an "incredibly happy" relationship with Happy Days actress Linda Purl.

“I never thought for a minute this would happen again," Duffy admits. "I never thought I'd feel this way again."

Duffy starred as Bobby Ewing on Dallas during the show's run from 1978-1991. Purl played Richie Cunningham's girlfriend Gloria on Happy Days in a guest appearance in 1974, then returned to the show from 1982-1983 in the larger featured role of Fonzie's girlfriend, Ashley Pfister.

Duffy tells People that they were casual friends many years ago, but had long since lost touch. He was married to his wife, ballet dancer Carlyn Rosser, from 1974 until her death in 2017 from cancer, and he and 65-year-old Purl got reacquainted when they ended up on the same group text chain with mutual friends during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the weeks went by, they began to develop a connection and text exclusively with one another.

Finally, Duffy recounts, "I loaded up my car and drove 20 hours and ended up on her doorstep just to see if it was real. We haven’t been apart since.”

Duffy believes his late wife would approve of his relationship with Purl.

“I feel quite honestly, that it is keeping with the desires of my wife, the fact that we are intended to be happy,” he reflects. “So when it’s offered, think about it, do whatever you do, but don’t let it pass you up if it’s the right thing.”

Duffy returns to television in a new Lifetime movie titled Once Upon a Main Street, which is slated to premiere on Nov. 29.