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What’s Love Got To Do With It (Aging That Is)

What’s Love Got To Do With It (Aging That Is)

By Susan Williams

Some time ago, we published a post about a small Italian village and whether they had the secret to longevity.

In this village, 1 out of 10 of the residents were over 100 years old. Diet and lifestyle most definitely played a role in this phenomenon however one of the questions I also wondered when sharing this post was what role did love have to play. It seemed that the people that lived a long life seemed to also have loving relationships.

Since publishing that post, I also interviewed Dr. Martin Hyde who had developed an assessment tool for quality of life when aging. What I noticed on this assessment tool questionnaire, was there wasn’t a question specific to either loving someone or feeling loved. There was a question related to being in the company of others but nothing specific to loving relationships. (If you want to see/try the assessment, here’s this post).

So when it comes to aging – and to quote the great Tina Turner – what’s love got to do with it?

I started to research love and aging. Not too surprising, I didn’t find much research out there on this topic. There’s a great deal about aging, intimacy and sex but I came up pretty empty when it came to the topic of love.

Also Read: Why Baby Boomers Need Sex Education

I did find one article entitled Love At Any Age. The post cited some research that showed the differences in expectations of relationships as we age;

“The top-five most highly rated elements of successful romantic relationships for the older adults were Honesty, Communication, Companionship, Respect, and Positive Attitude, whereas as the top-five most highly rated elements of romantic relationship success for younger adults were Love, Communication, Trust, Attraction and Compatibility.”

Notice that love was not on this list at all for older adults.

I decided to try another route. Given that loneliness is often a major challenge with aging, I changed my search criteria to aging, love and loneliness. Again, not too much popped up on all three search terms. Lots of research on aging and loneliness but nothing that really included the love factor.

I did find the following article in Psychology Today which I thought could give a glimpse into the importance of love but to be honest it’s not necessarily in the way that I would have expected it. I had envisioned reading about the romance of the life long love stories that we so often hear about but this was quite different.

The author basically suggested that love is a mystery.

The post was titled Why Love Is Not the Cure For Loneliness and the author shared that love may be what may brings people together however it’s a fickle emotion and depending on the direction it takes love may be a good or bad thing. The author suggested that it’s actually closeness that reduces the feeling of loneliness.

The author of the post went on to describe that love is great when it’s working well in a relationship, but when it’s not it can create distance. But when you’re close to someone (irregardless of love), this can provide comfort and a feeling of security.

So maybe love doesn’t have that much to do with how well we age. Maybe it is more about having relationships with people that provide companionship and closeness that is most important. It’s knowing that you have people around you that care for you and that you can count on.

And if you happen to get love too then that’s an added bonus.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.