Four Ages of Coupling

In The Kiss & Blog Podcasts, I often refer to my definitions of the four (or sometimes five) ages of coupling. These are entirely my own invention, but fit pretty well the world I observe.

The First Age of Coupling.

Puberty begins our life’s interest in coupling-up, so it’s the place to start. From then until we reach legal majority is the innocent phase of our relationship life.

Let’s say 14 until 18.

The Second Age of Coupling.

When we are legally of age, sex potentially becomes a part of any coupling mix. From this point until (males especially) are fully mentally and physically developed we should be learning about ourselves and how we integrate close relationships into our lives. We also are likely to experience both sides of sexual activity and romantic intimacy – the ecstasy and the heartbreak.

From 18 until approximately 27-ish.

The Third Age of Coupling.

Let’s get serious. This is all about marriage, childbearing and rearing those sprogs. In my opinion, this time is about everyone other than yourself. You owe it to the lives you create that you stick with your spouse until the youngest offspring is 18. Exceptional circumstances only should mitigate that commitment.

Call it 27 until 50+

The Fourth Age of Coupling.

After fertility, after children, and possibly after divorce, this is the last and possibly longest period of consistent coupling patterns. Here’s where you can regain yourself, or start a new self, or do pretty much whatever you want.

From post-fertility and post child-rearing until whenever you choose to stop.

Each age, in my opinion, requires a different approach when it comes to relationships and coupling. I’ll expand further in the future.

Stoics

the-stoic-warrior

In my experience, women have no interest in exploring why men are the way they are. You accept us as accessories and ask your girlfriends about us when we displease you. Men, on the other hand, have the same reaction to women as they do to a complicated piece of software or machinery, which is:

What is she doing now? And why?

Unfortunately for us, we are as likely to seek peer advice about women as we are about that tricky new developer app. Less so, in fact. No man in our history has ever called a buddy and said:

Hey, dude. Hortense seems uptight that I offered to drive her and her girlfriends to the theater tonight. What’s up with that?

Alone we remain, turning the facts over again and again.

# I want H to have a nice time.

# She’s going to watch that movie with the gals.

# I figured it’s a nice thing to drive them and pick them up.

# That way they can relax and not worry.

# Isn’t this a good thing?

…and repeat. Where is the flaw in this logic?

If only we’d present this to a buddy. He’d say,

Yep. Hermione does the same thing. It’s unfathomable.

And we’d feel better.

It’s OK

We talk about dating as if it’s a fait accompli, that everyone is looking for someone. Say it is not so, Hortense, because it isn’t; not every singleton out there is on the prowl.

This is another case of the coupled gently pressuring the uncoupled. They, The Togethers, say things like:

So, what are you doing to find someone?

or

Gosh, I know this person who’d be great for you.

or even

Aren’t you lonely?

Ummmm, nothing, not interested and no, actually. (This being the opposite of that horrid movie “Love Actually” which was nothing about love or actuality.) Sometimes people are content to be unattached, and that’s that.

They’ll emerge in their own good time.

Destination or Road Trip?

Karen Nyberg

There appears to be a large number of single folks who think of dating as a permanent state of being. For them, heading out (or staying in) with consecutive new people is the reason for dating. I can only guess that at some point they figure one of them will stick, and they’ll work it out from there.

The analogy that comes to mind is that of the International Space Station. The hardy souls who spend up to a year whizzing around the joint in a glorified tin can seem pretty happy, and no doubt it’s an awesome experience. Eventually though, they must come back down to earth.

Not least among the problems of long-term micro-gravity are the effects on the human body. Bone loss, muscle atrophy, fluid redistribution and – interestingly – an inability to cry freely (because the tears glob together) are all well documented.

Of course, if you are happy in the dating milieu, go for it. Indeed, if you’re in that sweet-spots of being less than 25, or over 50,  lots of dating is a good thing. But it’s worth noting that coming back down to earth for a serial dater might be painful. Commitment is much like gravity, in that it does restrict you and it does require effort to overcome.

However. Our minds and bodies were designed to be under gravity’s influence. Both our mental and physical health are maximized here on earth. I make the case that being coupled has the same effect…in the long term, that is, even if the view is incredible from up there.

* The photo is of Astronaut Karen Nyberg. I guess the credit belongs to NASA, and I apologize if that is not the case.