08/04/2014

Are childhood sweethearts a dying breed?

When many think of the phrase 'childhood sweethearts' they think of a magical, romantic relationship which conforms to all our ideals and can defy anything.  Even when estranged, for whatever reason, there's a strong bond which always draws the two back together.  The phrase fits many common visions for how love and relationships should be.

But are childhood sweethearts at risk of becoming extinct?  Research recently conducted suggests that just one in seven middle-aged couples have known each other since their formative years.  This is in stark contrast to almost a third of couples aged over 60 who got together as lovestruck teenagers.

Last weekend I was privileged enough to watch my cousin marry her childhood sweetheart.  Leanne and Phil have been together for 10 years, first getting together when they were in school.  Since then they have made their own house together, have many years of memories, and are now embarking on married life.

But while this used to be a textbook love story they are few and far between now.  Obstacles such as moving away for university cut short many teenage romances.

Nevertheless, many childhood sweethearts overcome such hurdles and reunite years later; once they have had a chance to test the water and see what else is out there.

But is it more advantageous to remain with a childhood sweetheart than to find someone later in life?

Childhood sweethearts have the upper hand in some respects as they have known each other for such a long time.  However, some may know nothing other than being with that person, with curiosity often creeping in.

Whilst 'late-life lovers' don't have the same history and background, they have had more of an opportunity to sow any wild oats before settling down.

The romantic connotations attached to childhood sweethearts is always an appealing situation.  When you're 15 and madly in love with your boyfriend, it's not uncommon imagine that you will be together forever.

But whilst this was common for the older generation, the change in our culture and lifestyles means this is now just a fairytale for many.

Many young people these days put off settling down until they are in their 30's, preferring to enjoy the selfishness that your 20's allow.

There are also so many more opportunities to meet people than there used to be.  The worry of not meeting anyone is no longer there.  And declaring you are a single woman is no longer met with gasps of shock and anguish.  With online dating, social media, and dedicated matchmaking events there are opportunities for everyone.

The vast array of dating options and the changing perception of relationships have resulted in less people sticking with their first partner and opting to explore what else is out there.  The term 'spinster' is no longer bounded around as a derogatory term and women can embrace being single until they choose otherwise.

Yes childhood sweethearts may be becoming an endangered species, but they're making way for a whole new breed of love story.

A benefit from this culture change is that those couples who are childhood sweethearts are even more special and unique because of it.  Those who can stand the test of time and remain committed to one person their whole life are the envy of many and a real-life fairytale.

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