This morning I saw this picture on Facebook. It’s a couple I know who have been together about 3 years. I went to high school with both of them. I went to elementary school with both of them, I believe. In other words, I’ve known Mark and Denise a very long time. Someone posted a comment about “young love”, and it got a lot of laughs. “We can ‘play like’, can’t we?” wrote one friend. Yes, we can, I think.
I think middle-aged love is far superior to young love. Why? Well, because I’m middle-aged. When I was young, I probably thought it was gross for people my current age to be cavorting about, having sex and kissing in public. Yuk. That’s sort of the message we always got about middle-aged people, right? We should hide our affections because we’re just too old for that stuff. Imagine my surprise when I reached 40 and 50 and realized that love is love is love is love. It just doesn’t matter what age we are.
When we fall in love, our body creates all these crazy chemicals that basically, well….make us crazy. The good news is…..that doesn’t change with age. The bad news is….that doesn’t change with age. It’s about the only thing that doesn’t change. Our bodies change for one thing. Everything is looser, flabbier, overused, and well, succumbing to gravity. Luckily, that goes for both sexes. It’s not just a woman’s problem. The other thing that changes is everything. In our youth, we bring our parents and our upbringing into our relationships. We can’t help it. We haven’t worked through our “stuff.” In fact, most people don’t even know they have “stuff” at that point. In middle-age, your parents may be a part of the mix, but they are not as much a part as when we were young. The problem is there’s a whole different group of people that have joined the mix – ex-wives, ex-husbands, kids, step-kids and even, god forbid, grand-kids. It just all becomes more complicated.
I think middle-aged love is far superior than young love for a couple of reasons. Somewhere around 40 or 50, most of us figure out who we are. Our youth is spent pretending to be who we want to be. We build our relationships on that. When we find out that we’re really something different, something less than that in some ways and something far better in other ways, we usually look at that other person and say, WTF? Either the relationship makes it because both people can make it work, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, we’re back on the playing field, but with a significant advantage. I know who I am – what I like and don’t like, what my faults and strengths are, what I can tolerate and what I can’t. It makes it harder to find a person to fall in love with because the criteria is more stringent, but, if you’re lucky to find it, it’s sweet.
Mark and Denise, my Facebook friends, reconnected while they were both going through their 3rd divorces. So, we’ve got 6 ex-spouses in the mix. They were acquaintances in high school, but Mark thought Denise was “stuck up”, and Denise thought Mark was a trouble-maker. And, they were probably both right. We were kids. Who knows what we are? We’re just struggling to figure out our place, so we take on roles. They both were married and had a child by the time they were 18, so they started out early. In my opinion, they never got a chance to be single and young. That is lost forever. But, Facebook comes along a few years ago, and life presents new chances. Mark plays in a classic rock band, and he’s freaking cool for an almost 50 guy. And, Denise looks pretty darn good for a middle-aged woman. They are both about to be single for the 3rd time. Why not have some fun? And they fell in love in the process. It’s just sweet. And, they are very lucky to find love again.
I think anyone that finds love at any time is lucky. If I ever find it again, I’ll consider myself very lucky and blessed. As I get older, I realize how fleeting life is and the fragility of romantic love. When I was young, I didn’t appreciate it. There was so much life to live. Now, as I look at myself in the mirror, I see age walking all over my face. I see the future, and it’s a lot shorter than it used to be. I know that if I find love again, it may be my last time. First love is definitely sweet. I can imagine that the last love will be even sweeter.
When young people find love, it’s so easy to work out. Yes, they have financial hurdles and all that stuff. But, life is so innocent. They can blow off things and just find places to be together. They have energy. They don’t need sleep. They are in a building process where they may be excitedly thinking about kids and having families and building fortunes and careers. Everything is so full of promise. When middle-aged people find love, we are at a spot where we are starting to see our lives wind down. I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve dated that are nearing retirement. We are paying off mortgages. We are having health issues. We can’t see those damn iPhones without our glasses. We look at our bodies, and we don’t know how they got in the shape they did. If people have kids, some have done well, others are a mess. Retirement looms as a promise and a frightening time financially. Regrets litter the past and haunt us in the present day.
When we find love at middle-age, it IS the fountain of youth. Sex becomes fun again. No matter how old the body, it works…..and, if it doesn’t work, there’s stuff that’ll fix that these days. Our eyes light up. We flirt. We giggle. We text dirty pictures, even if we have to put on our glasses to see them. When we find time to be together, it’s exponentially wonderful because it’s so hard to find the time. It’s much easier to be present. It’s much easier to love a flawed person when you know how flawed you are. The thing about love is it is life-giving. People in middle age know what that means. Because, we’ve had life taken away a number of times through death, divorce, failed relationships and other life failures.
My friend Denise said it best this morning about her relationship with Mark, “It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for us.” A younger person might pass it by dreaming of perfection. I know that perfection won’t ever happen. It never has, never will. I believe in love. Still do. I just hope that I’m not writing a blog about Senior Love when it happens. But, I guess I’ll be grateful for love whenever and wherever it is given to me. For love……. at any age…..is a rare gift.