On Love and Luck
Love means never having to say you’re sorry — but only because you don’t stick around long enough.
According to a 2008 poll of people married at least 10 years, the average couple gives up on romance just two years, six months and 25 days after their nuptials. That means the romance dies somewhere around noon on the 938th day of a marriage. Furthermore, 83 percent of couples don’t even bother celebrating their wedding anniversary after three years.
The takeaway: Love is like a cell phone that needs to be replaced every couple of years, after it loses its appeal.
Sounds bleak, right? Or does it?
All is not lost when it comes to love and romance. Fifty-seven percent of men and fifty-four percent of women admit to having cheated on their spouses. So even after the glow of a new relationship has faded, we still manage to find romance! Just not with our spouses. However, since the average affair lasts just over two and a half years (if this time span sounds vaguely familiar, go back to the second paragraph), we’re doomed to finding love over and over again. Life is just an endless parade of romances with new partners, each lasting two to three years. Maybe that’s what nature intended.
Sure, there’s that small but lucky subset of us who fall in love with their perfect match and remain in romantic bliss, living a life of amour that renews itself with each new sunrise. Call me a cynic, but I’m guessing there’s less than a thousand of those people out there, and their good fortune is largely due to some sort of mental incapacitation. Nobody falls in love and stays there forever; instead you eventually fall out of love to some extent and have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to walk away from the table, cash in your chips and try again some other day.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. A different study claimed that the average person falls in love four times over their lifetime. Counting the romantic buildup that occurs prior to actually falling, that would mean the serial romancers among us spend roughly 15 or 20 years of our lives in the nirvana of love-and-romance phases. Longtime married couples just keep putting more distance between themselves and those two and a half years they were madly in love.
When Billy Crystal’s Harry says to Meg Ryan’s Sally, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” he’s stating a truth. What Harry doesn’t mention is that you get a fresh start and an entirely new “rest of your life” every few years. The good news is that each new love can be the best of your life. Your heart might be breaking now, but around the corner is your next Juliet or Romeo (only hopefully without all the family drama).
That being said, let’s consider another possibility. Perhaps love isn’t a cell phone that needs to be replaced every few years. What if love is like blue jeans? You just have to keep trying on new pairs until you finally find one that fits you perfectly.
Maybe those lucky few just happened to find that one person out of a million with whom they’re so compatible that neither of them ever gets fatigued by the mere presence of the other. Maybe — just maybe — there really is such a thing as the love of one’s life, a soulmate, a perfect fit.
I’m currently two years into a relationship, and my girlfriend still looks her most beautiful when she doesn’t know I’m looking. From what I can tell, she’s not tiring of me yet, either — though god knows I keep giving her reasons. In the immortal words of Freddie Mercury, our love still shakes all over like a jellyfish.
You see, that’s the beauty of it: Love and romance are renewable resources.
When one love ends, you pick your broken heart off the ground and do your best to get on with your life, despite it feeling as if the entire world is staring at you. And every minute that passes not only helps makes you whole again, but simultaneously could be taking you that much closer to your perfect fit. And if indeed you’ve finally found the right person, the longer you have that person in your life, the better he or she will fit.
Just be careful not to wash your perfect love in bleach.