By Alex P. Vidal
No, he or she is old enough to do or feel it. No, he or she is just being nice because she or he is really “malambing” (sweet) to younger men and women. Neither feelings nor desires whatsoever. We’ve heard these statements from time to time from common “friends” in Facebook, among other social networks.
Wait a minute, why the discrimination? Don’t lolo (grandpa) and lola (grandma), err tita and tito have the right to fall in love (with younger men and women) even if they are already in their twilight years? Yes, they do. They even have every right to celluloid sex as much as younger men and women do.
In fact, some of them are still sexually “literate” and their libido is still earthshaking, to say the least–if only their physical condition will connive with their desires.
Dr. Ray E. Short, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville, asks in his book Sex, Love, or Infatuation: “Isn’t romantic infatuation only for the very young? Or for those who haven’t grown up emotionally?”
“Not so, it would seem,” Short answers his own question. “Even the most mature are not safe from the siren call of romance. Haven’t all of us seen middle-aged or older couples with stars in their eyes, acting every bit as foolish as any teenager?”
“Or the rich old codger who squanders his fortune on some flighty young girl? Such affairs happen just often enough that folk wisdom has long since decalred: ‘There’s no fool like an old fool!'”
Dr. Short, who is a Methodist minister, will be shocked to learn that some male senior citizens are even sending love sound bites like they were teenagers to younger female “friends” in Facebook and other social networks today.
“In our society the wedding ceremony is supposed to dry up all other springs of romance. But does it?” inquires Dr. Short. “In the Benson study people reported having an average of one other romance after they were wed. While most marrieds reported no other romances at all, some had as many as five. Luckily, few of these were acted on and they did not disrupt their marriages. But they did occur.”
Let’s listen to Dr. Short: “If you’re more grown-up in your emotional life than most other people, you’re still not protected from romance.”
When D.G. Dean set out to test the common assumption that “romantic love is for the emotionally immature,” he found that it just isn’t so. The real test of emotional maturity then is not whether you “fail love” (become infatuated).
“That happens to almost all of us,” asserts Dr. Short. “The true test of maturity is rather what you do about it. Do you react rationally to this romantic condition? Or do you rush rashly into some foolish, perhaps permanent, commitment before the relationship proves to be sound?”
One thing is certain: romantic experience catches up with all of us, young or old, rich or poor, mature or immature. And with it come perplexity and uncertainty. If romance hasn’t reached you yet, just be patient, counsels Dr. Short. “Your time is coming!”
Dr. Short adds: “And if it has already come to you, it will likely come again–and yet again. The issue, then, is how can you act wisely once you are, as Capellanus put it, “wounded by one of love’s arrows.”
Let’s be careful. Cupid’s arrow may turn out to be cupid’s error! We need something better than a soft-eyed grin and the old “never mind, dear; when it hits you, you’ll know it” routine. When we ask an honest question, we deserve an honest answer.
SIGNS OF LOVE
Real love will have an organizing and a constructive effect on our personality. It brings out the best in us. As Hirning and Hirning wrote: “There is an intense and satisfying feeling of greater self-realization and expression, as well as a feeling of having one’s own personality reinforced and strengthened and enriched.”
Duvall and Hill added that love give us “new energy and ambition, and more interest in life…It is creative, brings an eagerness to grow, to improve, to work for worthy purposes and ideals. Love is associated with feelings of self-confidence, trust and security.”
The person who loves makes an effort to be more deserving of the beloved. Two sisters were heard to agree that their older brother’s wife is good for them. “Before he met Jane, he had few goals and not much direction in his life,” said one. The other nodded. “When he married her, it really made a man out of him.” Love lifted him to new levels of maturity and responsible action. It will do the same for us — young and old.