Young love is idolized in our culture. As we become more youth-obsessed, old love has taken a back seat. But both types of love are special in their own way. Favoring one over the other will lead to missing out on the full spectrum of love. Find out how both young and old love can take you to beautiful destinations.
“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.”— Erich Fromm
Ah, young love. It happens to all of us — most likely during our teenage years.
The thought of your crush gave you butterflies, and you felt excited about everything, including the most mundane of activities.
We find ourselves consumed by a rapturous passion in the throes of young love. It’s an intense, drug-like high that overrides reason and logic. Oscar Wilde alluded to it when he said, “Life is one fool thing after another whereas love is two fool things after each other.”
Young love is undeniably unique. The innocence, naivety, and idealism are hard to replicate in later years. It’s a feeling that many grownups miss after the responsibilities of adult relationships.
Hollywood and the music industry cater to this longing for young love by churning out movies and songs that feature it prominently. They hire beautiful young couples to play the main characters in narratives through which viewers can live vicariously.
The idealization of young love is why people talk about movies like “Clueless” and “Titanic,” and not “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Elsa & Fred.” As our culture becomes increasingly youth-obsessed, the deeper love between older couples has taken a backseat.
The truth is that both types of love are special in their own way. Favoring one over the other will lead to missing out on the full spectrum of love. Both young and old love can take you to beautiful destinations if you let them.
Why old love is becoming rarer in modern society
Couples who have been together for several decades are becoming increasingly rare to find. There are many reasons for this that are mostly to do with the shifts in our culture and beliefs around relationships.
The structure provided by religious institutions and family units is absent or doesn’t make it necessary for people to settle down early. Higher education has overridden the authority of these institutions and made us wary of rules imposed on us. With more freedom, many people don’t think it’s necessary to settle down too soon and narrow their life options.
We’ve also become shallower and more self-centered as a society. Social media deceives us into believing that appearance is more important than substance. If we’re disconnected from our core, it’s almost impossible to have a genuine, lasting connection.
Our digital devices erode our attention and focus. It’s becoming harder to put our phones down long enough to have meaningful and deep conversations. We think a “hey, how’s your day?” text counts as a conversation versus speaking in person. Our conversations lack depth because we are used to skimming the surface.
Online dating has reinforced impersonal and cursory ways of communication. We evaluate others based on a couple of photos and a curated list of interests and ideals they claim to have. We don’t get the information that really matters to gauge compatibility.
If we don’t like what we see within a few seconds, all we need to do is swipe right, and we’ll have “better” options to pick from. But a long-term relationship requires patience and focus. It’s not like something we order on Amazon that we can return later.
Old love takes work and devotion to make it stand the test of time — and people are becoming less willing to sign up for that. In this way, they get trapped in the dynamic of young love well into middle age and beyond. They miss out on the beauty that both types of love have to offer.
The neurochemistry of young love and old love
To understand the progression from young to old love, we need to look under the hood and see what’s happening inside our bodies when we experience both types of love.
As much as we like to think our heart calls the shots when it comes to attraction and forming unions, it’s actually due to a cocktail of chemicals in your brain.
The end goal of the love game is to procreate and have healthy children, and nature has wired us to make that the most likely outcome. When we understand how this works, we’ll see that falling in love is just a passing phase that transforms into another type of love.
Young love is distinguished by feelings of lust and hidden influences that we’re not always aware of. The intense desire that we feel for the other person is because our body releases hormones like estrogen and testosterone that increase our sex drive.
Neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine cause physiological effects like a pumping heart, blushing, and sweating. This early phase is important because it fuels attraction that primes us for old love.
The wave of heady hormones inevitably ebbs, and so does passion. This is when you see your person for who they are, without the rose-colored glasses, and decide whether you want to continue the relationship.
Because we’ve been primed to believe that the euphoria and mind-blowing chemistry of young love should be lasting, most people interpret the cool-off as a loss of attraction and call it quits.
But nature has given us this re-evaluation phase to make good choices. If you decide to stick with your person, you open the possibility for old love — a mature stage of your connection.
Two hormones characterize old love: oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone,” and vasopressin, which help us bond with another person for the long haul. Happy couples who transition to old love will tell you that maintaining a steady flame is well worth it.
The two types of love: young love vs. old love
Your ability to take pleasure in the delights of young love and allow it to transition into old love gracefully determines the success of a connection. Maximize your chances by keeping these benefits of both types love in mind:
5 reasons why young love is special
1. Passion: This is probably what people enjoy the most about young love. With your sex hormones in overdrive, the passion is red-hot. You get a rush of excitement when you think about the person. The attraction gives you a natural high, and you crave their physical touch.
2. Novelty: Getting to know someone you’re attracted to is an adventure. Everything about them fascinates you. If they have flaws, you’re willing to overlook them. There are so many layers to discover, and you enjoy every minute.
3. Fun: Couples experiencing young love are playful and lighthearted. Lots of smiling, teasing, and laughing make the lovebirds feel good. They’re carefree because the realities and responsibilities that mature couples must contend with don’t exist yet.
4. Romantic gestures: Those who like to be courted and treated like a star would enjoy young love. Because both parties want to impress each other, they will show romantic gestures like buying flowers, chocolates, cooking meals, or taking walks on the beach.
5. Heightened creativity: The feelings and sensations we experience during young love can activate our sacral chakra (energy centers throughout the body), which increases sexual intimacy and enhances creative expression.
5 reasons why old love is special
1. Harmony: There is more harmony between old couples because there’s alignment in their lifestyles and behavior. Their schedules, communication style, and preferences have synchronized, and they’ve learned to enjoy the good parts of each other and make healthy compromises.
2. Familiarity: Old love feels like a comfortable pair of broken-in jeans. There’s a nice rhythm that consists of a mix of eventful and exciting days and those that are routine and relaxed. Old couples feel safe because they know that they’re with someone who knows them well and has accepted them.
3. History: When you’ve been together for many years, you’ve developed an archive of experiences, friendships, stories, and inside jokes to bond over. You’ve also been through rough patches that made your relationship stronger. Having lots of shared experiences strengthens the bond over time.
4. Care and support: Old love focuses on nurturing and caring for one another. Especially as couples age, they feel the need to be there for one another as they face the challenges of aging and mortality. They have deep certainty that they have got each other’s backs because they have stuck around long enough. They also do thoughtful things to show their love and support.
5. Companionship: Once the buzz of feisty hormones subsides, it’s replaced by hormones that give couples the warm and fuzzies. They become buddies and feel comfortable talking about anything. If they have common interests like sports, wellness, or music, they enjoy those activities together and build on their friendship.
Young love and old love are two sides of the same coin, and both unveil deeper and unawakened parts of your soul. The right person can take you to greater heights of growth, joy, and pleasure. As the great Persian poet Rumi once said, “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What is your favorite part about the two types of, young love and old love? If you’re in a relationship right now, which phase are you in?
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