Puppy Love May Sour Us Later On

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youth date
A new study says the ghosts of lovers past haunt us more than we realize.

A new study says we should strive to do the impossible—never fall victim to puppy love. Actually, the exact quote: "If you want to find happiness in later life, it is best to avoid puppy love altogether."

Well. Thanks for telling us now. It's about 10 years, 25 crushes and 60 disappointments too late, but your advice is indispensable. Really.

In the new book Changing Relationships, a collection of love and relationship papers by British sociologists, the unanimous opinion seems to be that those vile, rose-colored lenses of youth make adult relationships less fulfilling. Without knowing it, those high school nights of parked car make-out sessions and homecoming dances (that's what high school kids do, right?) screw us once we have jobs, pay rent, and want big girl and boy companions.

"If you had a very passionate first relationship and allow that feeling to become your benchmark for a relationship dynamic, then it becomes inevitable that future, more adult partnerships will seem boring and a disappointment," said Dr Malcolm Brynin, principal research officer at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.

Hm. It seems these researchers are underestimating how balls out one can make an "adult" relationship. (Whatever the hell that means.) And what do they mean by boring? Adults translate the hierarchy of high school and spontaneity of youth into their grown up lives all the time.

Well, the adults who do such things, they say, may not be the best picks for long-term love. Why? Because an adult relationship is a "calm" and "pragmatic" analysis of what one wants and needs, coupled with the reliability and dependability to make it happen.

Which to be fair, doesn't sound all that much like our first loves. In fact, the sociologists say the qualities that most excite you right off the bat are often the ones that contradict what you'd actually need for a stable, solid relationship.

"The problems start if you try not only to get everything you need for an adult relationship, but also strive for the heights of excitement and intensity you had in your first experience of love. The solution is clear: if you can protect yourself from intense passion in your first relationship, you will be happier in your later relationships."

This is a fun study and all, but what in the world are we to do with it? We're lost causes, but should we pass the gospel on to our sons and daughters? Tell them to wait out the whole "liking someone" and "dating" thing until they hit a nice, cynical (albeit) inexperienced 25? 28? 30?

And, if we may be brutally honest, to find a romantic prospect who returns calls, says what he means, means what he says, and shows up on time is not only refreshing, exotic, and rare, but also nothing nothing short of exciting.

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