In We Are What We Pretend To Be: The First And Last Works, Nanette Vonnegut, the youngest daughter of Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-five amongst other great novels, describes her interactions with her father:
Most times I’d find my father in a very receptive mood to my prying questions, like ‘How many times have you been in love?’ His answer was instantaneous, and he held up three long fingers.
Nanette again repeats this in an interview with The Rumpus: “He would say: ‘I think you’re allowed to be in love three times in your life.'”
Turns out Kurt’s figure was not too far off from most of our averages. A recent survey of 2,000 adults by Opera North found that the average person falls in love only four times over their lifetime. In addition, the average age to settle down is 27, and 33% of us are “lucky enough” to settle down with our loves.
I don’t like that the study specifically quotes “lucky enough.” Does marrying your first love is always a good thing? If I do marry my boyfriend, he would be the second person I’ve loved in my life so I’m officially ruled out of that 33%. My ex was a great guy, and I have nothing but great memories of our relationship, but I don’t regret not marrying him. I loved him, but I couldn’t imaging spending my life with him. And before someone says, well, then you didn’t love him, I did love him every moment I was with him and that part of me always will, but love has many shapes and plays out in many different ways. The fact that it ended does not mean that the love should be discounted. It just didn’t last, but then, does love have to last to be love? Hmm…sounds like the perfect topic for another post.
Now while the study is entirely UK-based, I can say with confidence that I’m sure the numbers can apply to at least the Western portion of the world because 1) my boyfriend is British, and men are men everywhere and women are women everywhere; 2) I lived in London for four years so I know the Brits fairly well.
Depressingly, one in four settle for the “second best” option, and a majority of those that do settle regret it. The number of people that settle is even more interesting when compared to the number of people who say that you can’t help who you fall in love with. 77% think that you can’t help who you love while 25% settle for someone. Is it entirely too random to suggest that maybe those who convinced themselves to settle down are also those who thought you could help who you love?
So what do you think? Does four sound like a fair number? Too high? Too low? How many loves have you had? I promise this is a no-judgement forum.