Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Anyone who's dared to love has likely felt the agony of heartbreak at least once in their life. From adolescence, we dream of finding the one. However, this is a somewhat modern invention. That's not to say romantic love and lifelong monogamy are new concepts, but our idealization of how it should be has changed considerably. One does not need to look too far back to see arranged marriages as a practical agreement for joining families, usually with financial situations playing a big part in the decision making. Now, with the elevation of romantic ideations, individuality, mixed with traditional societal expectations, it's quite possible that we've overburdened ourselves. Or, is this as it should be?
A successful marriage at this point has the same probability of a coin toss, and divorce rates are increasing annually. That doesn't even account for how many people stay together unhappily. Most of us would not endeavor any other type of undertaking with these odds, yet we will do it for love. A simple explanation is: because it’s wonderful (while it lasts). We all think we’re special and divorce won’t happen to us, but of course, that’s foolish. And part of what makes love so alluring is the foolishness of it.
Personally, even with the pain that accompanies it, it’s still worth it. I love to love, and I love to be in love. But after many failed attempts, I’m a bit terrified to try again.
I recently came across something that melted my heart, The Old Lovers Project in Paris, France, started by Caroline Pinto. Her Instagram, @oldlovers_ , is filled with photos of elderly couples strolling along together. Many times they are holding hands, arm in arm, a gentle caress on a shoulder, or just in close proximity. Either way, there is an affectionate bond that speaks to one’s heart saying, “I want that.”
I spoke with Caroline, intrigued as to why she started this project. She explained it was as simple as seeing a charming couple that crossed her path, and she felt compelled to take a photo. She said,
“I found them really beautiful and poetic.”
After posting the photo on social media, she became more aware of older couples as she moved throughout her day, and started taking more and more photos. The response she received from posting them online was so endearing, she decided to start a search for photos of old lovers from around the world. Inspired by her project, people are now on the lookout for love, and Caroline receives contributions from all over.
The sad part, which is also why it’s so enchanting, is that it’s very rare to see happy and successful marriages that survive a lifetime. My personal view is that shifting our perspective on love would have a profound impact on our success and enjoyment of relationships. I think the idea that love is based on sacrifice is a poisonous notion. Just because one would suffer for you, doesn’t mean you should expect it, or even look for it. Many people equate commitment as, what are you willing to endure to be with me?
Life will create enough hardships naturally, so there is no need to manufacture them as a test. When I asked Caroline about her views regarding the keys to a successful long term relationship, she said,
“I would define it as a team: Thinking as us before I. It’s helping each other grow and caring for each other. It’s about loyalty and respect.”
I think it would be very difficult to find anyone who disagrees with Caroline’s assessment. However, what is probably missing from many relationships is self awareness. Are you living these words? Do you understand what growing means? Do you know what you actually want? I think understanding these notions clearly and going on a journey together with the same values is a key component to really loving each other, instead of sticking it out.
If you have any photos you would love to share, please email them to Caroline Pinto at
email@example.com and follow her on Instagram @oldlovers_
Written by: Mike Wietecha