Is Later Love the Greater Love?

It’s a pretty big year for all of us.

It’s even more devastating watching it happen to everyone I grew up with, than the anticipation of it happening to me later this year. Yup, it’s the big 4-0. Me and my former grammar school playmates? We’re middle aged now.

For some of us, it’s been a long time coming. We graduated college, got jobs, got married, had kids. We’re living the dream as directed, following the preordained path. For others, it snuck up too soon. It took a while to figure out who we were, where we wanted to be, what we wanted to do, and with whom to partner up. It’s either a high five moment or a cataclysmic situation. What’s yet to come will be either the rest of our lives and/or the best of our lives.

But what of love? Some of us found it early. Should we consider ourselves lucky? We met someone we enjoyed spending time with- in the light, and in the dark, surrounded by others, and completely alone- at a young age. We experienced things together- travel, culture, food, hardship, accomplishment, you name it. We committed, promised, shared, held, while we still had dewy supple skin without crow’s feet and laugh lines, not to mention all of our hair. We’ve grown together, both figuratively and literally, as we now pack the SUV up to the roof with baggage everywhere we venture as a gang of 5.

Some of my favorite people however, for whatever reasons, didn’t pair off and shack up with a significant other right away. They took their time, or perhaps time took them for a ride before they found someone compatible enough, attractive enough, respectful enough, passionate enough to designate as the One. But as we turn the page to 40, it’s finally happening. They’ve met their forevers, they’re moving forward, albeit quickly, thanks to Mother Nature. Are they truly the lucky ones?

Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d be the first one. I would not have thought I would marry my high school sweetheart. I wouldn’t have put money on having a kid before I turned thirty. And I certainly couldn’t have predicted these things happening, while my pretty, perky, popular best friends were single until we were 40! But somehow that is how it has played out. I’m ecstatic that my favorite friends have finally found the perfect guys, and even though I thought I was through with weddings and baby showers (and maybe both at the same time?) a long time ago, I’m thrilled to celebrate what’s ahead, and I have a feeling it will be worth the wait.

Is there something to be said about later love? Do we know ourselves and our needs better as true adults? Is there a higher value to love if you have longed for it for longer, vs. the instant gratification of settling down young? Is there more certainty in the status of a soulmate if you’ve seemingly searched every corner of the Earth rather than choosing the one in your own backyard? Which love is the greater? Can they both stand the test of time? While I don’t regret the way my story has played out, I do wonder if the waiting game makes the dating game more worth it in the end.

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