Romantic love is often described as universal as it is associated with intense emotional feelings of euphoria and excitement. Predictably, euphoric feelings come with increased energy, elevated positive mood, positive outlook, and anticipation. That being said, when we experience euphoric feelings associated with a new love, we also experience feelings of increased desires, obsessive thinking, and increased energy. Once we feel we have found shared love, someone that shares our interests, or someone that brings joy to our lives we typically experience a feeling of “completeness”. In our eyes and in our thoughts, we feel we have found our life partner.
Not surprisingly, romantic love looks and feels a lot different when we are younger. Romantic love in our teens and 20’s can look and feel different from romantic love in our 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Love in our teens and 20’s is typically associated with lust and attraction, rather than shared interests, mutual respect, healthy communication or proper validation of individual partners or the relationship. In our youth, love usually comes quick and fast, unfortunately, at the expense of getting to truly know the person we are in a relationship with. Typically, as we age and mature, we appreciate partners for who they are and the impact they have on our lives. We appreciate the gestures of love from our partners that may not be expressed verbally but in their actions. We appreciate the gestures of love that we didn’t ask for, didn’t realize we needed, or the ways they have improved our lives by simply being a part of our lives.
Finding true love is not only influenced by maturity but our perspective on love and life. As we age and mature, our perspective on love changes, what we are attracted to physically changes, and the qualities we look for in a partner also changes. Sure, physical attractiveness catches our attention, however, once we mature, we need and require more to keep us interested. Healthy relationships require an investment from both partners that consist of time, energy, respect, communication, and love to survive.
Signs your interests in a potential partner has changed includes:
• Desiring more time to get to know someone before committing to a relationship
• You focus more on content/substance rather than exterior
• You look for and consider shared interests
• You have identified what truly matters in your life
• You recognize that simply falling in love is enough
• You desire someone you can communicate with
• You reflect on your past relationship experiences to improve your relationship choices
• You appreciate and respect the differences that makes a potential partner different
• You have abandoned the idea that you should stick to a “type”
• You recognize and accept your role in the breakdown with previous relationships
• You have more confidence in who you are as a person and the choices you make
Healthy relationships are associated with positive psychological well-being, good health and happiness. Surprisingly, our brains are constantly changing as we get older. The cerebellum, which plays a role in how we think and behave, is still growing into our 20’s. This can result in changes in the way we process emotions and build relationships. Even after the cerebellum has finished growing, our brains are not done changing. As we age, we are less likely to feel the need to be with someone because society tells us to. We no longer feel societal pressure to meet, marry and settle down with just anyone. As we mature, we realize there is no specific timeline or expectations that we must adhere to in our relationships. We have both the choice and the opportunity to lead and carve out a path for our life rather than being led by what society tells us is the best way to achieve happiness. Take things at your own pace and everything will fall into place.