Forty love. In tennis, it means one person is on the verge of winning the game while the other is on the verge of losing - badly, I might add. On my recent visit to the Australian Open, I heard these words mumbled over and over by the referees of the matches I saw. It got me thinking about these two words - forty, love - and what they mean in the modern world of dating. In the Renaissance period, we would be dead of disease (consumption being my favorite as it encompassed pretty much everything) by the age of forty. But in this era, many of us are just beginning our lives or starting them over - post divorce, post children, post economic setbacks, post career challenges.
Love is different at age forty. (I am not admitting anything. I continue to plead the fifth about my age.) Our lives are complicated. In many ways they are not what we expected them to be. We have unrealized dreams. We have unforeseen responsibilities. We have a heightened awareness of sand slipping through the hourglass. Many of us have failed marriages, children to consider, aging parents to worry about, and career changes to contemplate before we are considered too old and too stagnant by headhunters and HR departments alike. That said, we have to be flexible about love and relationships. But having loved and lost, as many of us have by this age, we also know what we want more definitively than ever and we are less willing to compromise. So, how do we proceed? We need to look into the future. If only foresight could be twenty-twenty. Children grow up to live lives on their own, parents pass on and we are left to bumble through life alone. But, it doesn't have to be that way if we seize love the way we seize career advancements, department store sales and anything in life that is free. Sure, we will still have our friends when we are older, but what is life without love, intimacy and companionship? Will you really be content spending your birthdays and Christmases watching your children be happy, but not being happy yourself? Where is the fun in traveling alone with no one to share in the experience and the memories? Do you want to come home to an empty house night after Ambien-induced night? I know I don't.
We are grown ups. By forty, we have learned that when you see a good thing, you grab it - whether it's a career opportunity, a vacant seat at a tennis match or a good deal on priceline.com. Don't you think we should do the same with a possible life partner? I know, I know... Once bitten, twice shy... Oh ye of little faith! If the shoe fits, strap on those glass slippers and ride off into the sunset with your prince (or princess - though make those loafers instead of slippers, please) and never look back. The fairytale ending is still possible. Hindsight may be 20-20, but the future is so much better if we don't get psyched out by the 40-love score. I speak without the experience of being a professional athlete when I say that love is like everything in life: it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.