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New Love Late in Life

March 26, 2022 | 456 words | Personal History

Finding love at any age is one of life’s mysteries.  An intimate relationship is a delicate thing, with many a twist and turn to navigate.  In every instance the intrinsic joy being produced springs from the same source: Discovering and exploring every aspect of this new, amazing human being.  It’s as if we are falling in love with all of humanity, all of God’s creation, as come to know this one specific exemplar of the Creator’s work.

Young people have the advantage of tackling all this excitement with fresh eyes and a full head of steam.  They get to figure out many of life’s fundamental challenges for the first time.  This builds togetherness and creates lasting memories.

Older folks, on the other hand, have been there and done that.  We enter the romantic arena having to fend off one of two problematic predispositions.

In the first instance, the joy of discovery is tempered by a lifetime of experience, much of which has taught us to be wary.  Of life, of other people, and especially of our own happiness.  Nothing seems to be lasting.  No matter how swimmingly those first few encounters might go, the simplest mis-understanding or mis-communication becomes a major red flag and prompts us to hit the brakes.

In the other instance, the joy of discovery is tempered by nothing at all.  We are so ready and willing to achieve total intimacy that we jump in with both feet and throw caution to the wind.  Positive vibes in the first few encounters provide all the assurance we need, and we find ourselves day-dreaming this new person might be the one.  Even though we know it can’t possibly be this easy, or happen this quickly, we find it impossible to hold back.  By the first kiss we have fallen madly in love, despite our better judgement.

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None of us are to be faulted for adopting either posture.  We are anxious for companionship, because we realize there aren’t that many good years left.  We know how hard it is to integrate a lifetime of memories, dreams, and reflections with someone else’s, because most of us have already tried a time or two.  Accommodating another’s deep-seated preferences is hard.  It requires a major commitment of time and psychic energy.  It makes starting a new job or moving to a new town look like a cake walk.  

The trick may lie in talking ourselves into relaxing and letting things unfold in their own way.  This new relationship will develop organically, if it’s meant to.  Such is the path we automatically and instinctively followed when we still possessed the innocence of youth.  And though we are no longer young, and no longer innocent, it’s still a good path.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr

March 26, 2022

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