Mid-Life Crisis Chronicles 2: Love at Twenty vs. Love at Forty Something
Love at twenty is sooooooooo exciting. The thrill of the hunt and the thrill of the chase you live for.
Love could even mean learning that sometimes friends are family, and your family can be like friends. It takes many people a long time to learn these lessons through trial and error, which makes love kind of like a fine wine.
It gets better with time (for many of us, but not all).
In the beginning, you look forward to all of those fairy tales you’ve been told about when it comes to love. You read about love in books, and watched movies about love. Love has been preached to you from the pulpits, and TV talk shows. From the time it happens, how it happens, where it happens, and even what it looks/feels like. Love has been taught by society to be seen like a mystical cloud of suspicion, filled with rainbows, unicorns Skittles, hearts, cupid, and some Twinkies.
You, my dear, think you may know what you like (personal, superficial preferences) to help you achieve your love, and you think you know what kind of mate you want to spend the rest of your life with. You’ve read the magazines and blogs which give you all of the societal social norms and give you all of the superficial signs relative when a person has fallen in love.
All of those click-bait pieces found on social media sites like “Five Ways to Tell If He’s Madly in Love With You.” It’s a crock of doo-doo written by someone to generate traffic to a website. If you follow 90% of it you are sure to fail. You feel proud of yourself because you sought out that advice and you’re wiser for doing so. You think you know what you want. You think that when love finally comes, you will be ready for it.
But love at twenty is so different than it is at forty-something.
In your twenties, you’re so, so naive. You don’t even really know yourself. You haven’t prepared for life’s hills and valleys. Your standards are kind of low (although you don’t really realize it yet), and the level of bullshit you put up with to find this thing called love is high. You are going to find love no matter how long it takes, and what the cost is.
You at twenty-something have hardly any idea about what the love has in store for you. You have no clue about the lies, and the hurt. The swift kicks up the ass love shares unexpectedly at times, along with the “I told you so’s” which will come in between the kicks as you attempt to get it right. You never think love would lead to such deception and rejection, disappointments and even let downs. Real love is made of joys and pains. Good times and bad. ‘
At twenty-something, you equate love with material things. If someone loves you they will be you a ring that is worth some portion of their salary and it’s made of some precious metal. If someone loves you it’s equated to working like a slave driver to provide a family with a huge beautiful home, having kids and allowing a spouse to stay home (and raise them while the other works so much they are unable to enjoy the family), purchasing boats for family vacations and outings, providing money for professional family photos for every freakin holiday, and other worldly things that cause one to have to work a great deal of time to secure for the one they are demonstrate they love to. Doing all of these things usually means one person is in love, and one person is tired of love. Eventually, there is no love. It’s usually discovered at the forty something stage of life. Sigh
Because you haven’t quite experienced life yet at twenty-something a…… you don’t quite have a firm grasp on people yet. How people carrying love set you up only to let you down. You at twenty-something likely still have unrealistic expectations, and unattainable goals for love because you haven’t experienced real life yet. You set yourself up to fail.
Love at forty-something is soooooooo satisfying. During this phase of life, you’ve had a chance to experience aplenty of bullshit, raise kids or just about finished with raising them, work the hell out of yourself, and learn what you need for your life to satisfy yourself. If you are mature and are a realist about this thing called love.
You don’t have to guess what love is. You’ve been through the thick of it (and survived if you’re fortunate), and you know what it looks and feels like.
Loving at forty-something likely means that you have learned loving you is a priority. You can’t love anyone if you’re broken, hurt, or disgruntled. You have already loved everyone to life while dying to yourself. You can’t possibly sacrifice the last part/next phase of your life wastefully giving away love to people, things, jobs, and situations that don’t deserve it. You have also learned that people will move on with things that interest them, while forgetting to fill you. You have to get yourself together, and when you do, there is
Love is not just about love itself. It is about finding common ground with another person intimately (which may or may not consist of sex). You’ve learned that compromising for someone else and changing to appease another person simply kills you. You’ve learned that finding someone or embracing that someone that loves you for all that you are, no matter how complex…….is what love it’s is about. It’s not about levels to reach the final destination which is marriage, for everything to simply go down hill.
At forty-something, love is no longer a like a prize that you win at the fair. You go home with it, then after awhile, the prize is forgotten about. Just a center-piece collecting dust.
At forty-something, you’ve learned love is a long-journey. The focus of love is no longer the feeling of love itself. Love at this stage of life is about sincere companionship with someone you can be open and honest with…….about everything from sexuality to your fear of aging and even death. If you’re fortunate to have it or find it, it’s a beautiful blessing indeed.
At forty-something, talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words so you know at this stage in life that a person can’t tell you he/she loves you, they must show you. Showing you love in ways that are meaningful to you and you alone.
At forty-something, you don’t have time to waste trying to guess if someone loves you. You simply won’t do it. You know what you know, what you know. If people are still playing games, you’re not having anything to do with it.
At forty-something, there is absolutely no jumping through hoops, no guess work, and no ass-kissing for love. All the extra effort (if you’re wise) has ceased. You care for those who care for you. You learned how to read people and their intentions fairly well. Because at this stage of life you’re stronger and unafraid to stand alone, you’re no longer afraid to bid unworthy acquaintances adieu. Time is everything at this stage of life. We aren’t wasting it.
At forty-something, you have learned that love and marriage are totally different. Marriage is a religious ideology and patriarchal ceremony meant for order, transferring of wealth, and really has nothing to do with love. People get married for a lot of reasons. Often they confuse love with finding a suitable mate to transfer wealth to. You’ve learned at this phase of life that love is simply a euphoric feeling that you have for another person. It comes and goes like love on your wedding day, and love 2-years after your honeymoon is over. It’s just different. It can be intense or weaken (kind of like the flu). You aren’t just looking for love anymore. Compatibility and other quality attributes are essential now, and you are seeking those things FIRST.
Attributes like kindness, thoughtfulness, a willingness to listen (and hear), respectfulness are super important in your forties. Makes connecting on a personal level so much easier. Some attributes you may have in common, but maybe even more things that are different because at this phase of life you’ve conformed, and done the same old thing. Now you can explore, experiment, and do things you want to do without worrying about not being shunned. I believe these things help one cultivate love. Developing interest first, which leads a deep connection, which eventually leads to feelings of love and a long-lasting relationship.
I personally think people can connect at some level pretty quickly due to chemistry, but love……it takes years to develop a real love. It takes years to truly get to know your spouse, your mate, your lover. Love is not like the unconditional love granted to children and parents, so it requires a lot of work. It requires lots of work, a lot of trust, and a lot of willingness to venture into the unknown kind of like gambling. You know how much you’re willing to risk without losing your shirt (if you’re wise). Every now and then though, you’ll go all in and lose everything. And that’s cool if you want to have that experience, as long as it’s not every experience. That gets old.
At forty-something if you’re starting over like I am, you’re cautious but optimistic. You’re ready, because you’re wiser. I will admit it’s much harder because of the biases and the past hurts, but I know I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. Nor do I want to be a bitter old lady labeled as a man/woman hater.
It’s different at forty-something for sure, and I am ready for the challenge. I am glad I am wiser now. The truth has set me free.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If you enjoyed please share. Your feed back is welcomed and appreciated it. As I age, I hope to help others.