My melted heart

When I first met DD I told him – quite adamantly – that I didn’t “do mush”.

I was sooooooooo delusional.

It turns out I’m like a Lindt ball in a heatwave.

I think you can become a little jaded in long-term relationships. Familiarity breeds contempt and you take each other for granted. Loss reminds you that love is precious and hard to find.

Getting the chance to fall in love for the first time in more than 25 years is pretty awesome. I don’t remember how it felt when I was 23, so I can’t compare it. But it’s pretty special.

Of course, being an overthinker, I keep worrying that the glow will wear off, because that’s what everyone tells you will happen. Once the initial dopamine surge subsides you’re supposed to settle into reality and leave romance behind. But, three years on, I’m still sending DD goey emojis and love bombing him at the movies and gazing in awe at his thumbs like they’re the most gorgeous thumbs I’ve ever seen in my whole life.

As he was checking us out of the hotel last weekend I was checking him out from behind thinking how sexy his calves were …

But Dr Fred Nour, a California neurologist and author of the book “True Love: How to Use Science to Understand Love” says I should only expect the passion to last two to three years at most.

Dr Nour reckons it’s all about the chemicals in your brain designed to get you to procreate, give birth to a healthy child and take care of them until they’re mature.  According to him, despite all the greeting cards and Valentines, your heart has nothing to do with love.

“Romance will never last for a lifetime,” Nour told TODAY. “You have to accept falling in love is just a phase that’s going to go away… If you accept that, you’ll have fewer divorces and more happy people.”

He reckons there are four phases of love:

1. Mate selection – a basic biological sense that your genes mixing with his genes would produce healthy children.

2. Romance and falling in love – “This is the phase that everybody talks about, all the movies, all the romance novels, because it’s fun, exciting and thrilling,” Nour said. “In this phase, we don’t see reality — love is blind. We see people as we want them to be, not as they are.”

3. Falling out of romantic love – “Nature made this phase for a reason: when you lose the chemicals that give you the euphoria, you start to see reality,” Nour said. “This is a re-evaluation phase. If you feel that, overall, you made a pretty good choice… hang in there.”

4. True love – Driven by chemicals called nonapeptides, this stage ensures a deep bond between you and your partner — nature’s way of keeping you together to take care of your kids until they’re grown up, Nour said.

Except none of the above applies when you meet someone after your womb has shut up shop and your kids are on their way to adulthood. It’s not about mixing genes or raising children. It’s all about your heart and Valentines.

Research has also suggested that self acceptance increases with age and that, as they get older, people have a stronger sense of their true self and less of a discrepancy between ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ selves.

In the past four years, I’ve discovered the sense of freedom that comes with embracing your real self over your ideal self. I’ve found it incredibly liberating to ditch all the “rules” I’d placed on my behaviour and find someone who loves the “real” me.

It turns out the real me acts like a kid in a candy shop sometimes.

Huffpost notes: “While you would think your age would translate into mature dating experiences, many women (and men) find themselves reliving their teen years when it comes to the dating world.”

Dating coach Bobbi Palmer adds: “It’s about undoing 35 years of thoughts, beliefs and truths that don’t work anymore.”

That’s exactly how it feels for me – like I’m experiencing everything for the first time, except with the wisdom of 40+ years.

I feel a kinship with Larry Carlat, who notes at Next Avenue in an article called “Why Middle Age is the Best Time to Fall In Love”: “I haven’t been in love all that many times in my life. In fact, the only other time I’ve really, really been in love was with my ex-wife. She was 21, I was 26 and we loved each other before we even knew who we really were. We grew up together, had children together, built a life together — until we finally realized that we would never be happy together.

“It wasn’t that we had grown apart so much as it was that we had grown into the people we really are. For a lot of us, it’s not until middle age that we feel comfortable in our own skin. It’s also not until middle age that we figure out what’s important and what we really want in life. So when my wife and I did all of this figuring out, we agreed that what we wanted was something neither of us could give to the other.”

He adds: “What I’m experiencing is a kind of true love that isn’t written about in sappy songs or featured in standard romantic comedies.

“The best way I can describe it is that it feels at once effortless and rock solid, unbearably light with unfathomable depth, surprising yet richly deserved, like we first met and have known each other forever, which again is the circuitous way of saying that it rocks to be this old.

“I told the woman I love that I was going to be writing this essay and asked her for a quote.

“‘Once you find true love, it doesn’t matter how long it took to get there because it’s happening right now,’ she said. ‘You feel it was well earned and worth the wait. When you fall in love in your 50s, you feel 19 and 28 and 32 and 45 and you feel so lucky to be the smartest, sanest self you’ve ever been.'”

I’m not sure I’m the smartest, sanest self I’ve ever been. I’m still on my journey to that point. But I’m with Larry, it rocks to be this old and in love. A love that skipped Dr Nour’s stage one and three, while remaining a delirious mix of stage two and four.

Oh, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I still have my moments of distress. But I smile more than I frown, I am happy more than I am angry and my heart is far more often full than empty.

Song of the day: Style Council “You’re the best thing”

 

 

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