4 Surprising Ways that Love Gets Better with Age
I just saw a touching documentary called The Age of Love. It’s about a speed dating event for 70–90-year-olds that took place in upstate NY, and follows the participants before, during and after the event.
The filmmaker, Steven Loring, is there when the participants get their feedback on who wants to meet them for a second time.
It brought back memories of being in high school and wondering if I would get asked to the prom. It truly seems that everyone wants the same thing, whether you are a senior in high school or a senior citizen.
Love Becomes a Deep Connection
The film got me thinking about the nature of love: what is it that’s so desirable about being in a loving relationship? What is the essence of love? And how does it compare with our culture’s portrayal? Is the experience the same for the young and old alike?
No, I discovered. As we age, it only gets better.
Dating after middle age brings a new freedom. The pressure to look like a cover girl is long gone. We can relax knowing that no amount of contouring makeup is going to make us look like a Kardashian. Instead, we might be choosing clothes that hide our upper arms.
In my podcast, Zestful Aging, I asked former top model Jill Dodd how aging has been for her. I expected some mixed feelings, even a feeling of loss. Instead, she exclaimed, “What a relief!”
At our age, we’re not looking for a person who is ‘hot.’ We’re looking, as one man in the film put it, for ‘a twinkle’ in his/her eye. Love at this age is more about the deep connection we feel with another person who really knows us. It’s more fundamental.
Love Is Without Distractions
A loving connection can feel more intense at this age because we’re not being pulled in so many directions. We often have more time on our hands. We’re not raising our kids anymore, and our lives with our mates are not centered around who makes dinner and who takes Johnny to soccer practice.
We have more time to devote to the companionship and connection with our partner. We don’t have to designate a ‘date night,’ and we don’t have to go to the theatre to feel like we’re on a real date.
Going to the farmer’s market or running errands can feel just as special when we’re experiencing this more mellow, deeper connection.
There Is a Focus on Basic Intimacy
We all want someone to understand us, someone to listen to us, someone to accept us with all of our frailties.
When the physical aspect of attraction is less important and we have to look past someone’s wrinkles, we’re focused on someone else’s humanity. That’s the enduring part of love. It’s the basic intimacy that helps us feel not so alone. Someone has got our back.
We’re Wiser and More Independent Now
When we get down to it, we’re looking for the same things that 30-year-olds are looking for. We’re just coming at it with different, more realistic expectations. And we’ve been around the block a few times, so hopefully we have learned from our mistakes.
If we’ve had difficult relationships – and who hasn’t – we are able to savor a positive one that much more. We know that it’s important to trust our intuition and pay attention to red flags.
We’re probably more independent and know that being alone is a lot better than being in a bad relationship. We’ve learned to be resilient because we’ve had to be. So if the relationship doesn’t work out and disappoints us, we know we can survive.
Love Involves More Immediacy and Acceptance
At this age, we are well aware that most of our living is behind us. We know time is precious, and we are less likely to get into petty arguments with our companions. We know not to sweat the small stuff, and we’re more likely to stay in a grateful place.
As seniors, we have developed the wisdom to know that change is constant, and we can only count on the present. So our relationships take on more immediacy. We are able to be present and appreciative, and not get hung up on our partner’s annoying habits.
We Are More Comfortable in Our Own Skin
Being appealing to a potential mate is about being comfortable in one’s own wrinkled skin. There’s nothing more attractive than doing something you love and radiating passion for life. It’s the twinkle in your eye that matters now.
At the screenings of The Age of Love, there’s a speed dating kit available for those who wish to start an event up in their town.
Do you think that love gets better with age? Or, is it just different, neither better nor worse? Please share your thoughts and observations below.
Nicole Christina, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, podcaster and presenter. She leads an online course based on the Harvard Study of Aging. Her podcast, Zestful Aging, focuses on mature women and the metamorphosis they undergo. She enjoys talking about aging with sass and class, playing tennis, and romping with her dogs.