How Romance and Relationships Change as We Get Older

Mar, 2023


How would you define romance? Do you think you are romantic?

Do you think people are less romantic than they used to be?

Vocabulary list 

• Students read each word followed by the definition, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• The teacher reads the sample sentence and the students repeat, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• After reading the list, students try to make their own example sentences using the words that are new to them. 

• Students share their example sentences and the teacher gives feedback, correcting errors if necessary.

companionship (noun)


the enjoyment of spending time with other people

The companionship you get from a dog is not the same as having a close friend.


compatibility (noun)


being able to get along and spend time with someone

There wasn’t much compatibility between me and her friends because we came from very different cultural backgrounds.


network (noun)


a group of people you share time, information or interests with

I used the networks I developed at university to help me find my first job.


stimulate (verb)


to encourage to grow, develop or be active

If your houseplants are dying, put them in bigger pots to stimulate their growth.


intimacy (noun)


the close, personal and often physical or sexual behaviour between people who have a romantic relationship with each other

After years of being married, there was little intimacy between your father and I.


bond (noun)


a close connection that joins people together

My sisters and I have a strong bond and we have always been very close.

How Romance and Relationships Change as We Get Older

When people are ‘in love’, they typically experience strong emotional feelings. They feel good psychologically, they feel healthy and their life seems wonderful. Many surveys and studies have tried to find out what makes a successful romantic relationship, but romantic love is not the same for everyone. Our age and social culture can have a big influence on our ideas about love and romance.

A 2013 study in Ireland led by Dr Michael Hogan at NUI Galway revealed that the five things older adults considered most important in romantic relationships were: honesty, communication, companionship, respect and a positive attitude. For younger adults it was love, communication, trust, attraction and compatibility. Surprisingly, socialising was also considered an important factor for older adults. Even though older adults have smaller social networks, they still enjoy socialising with friends and neighbours, which can help to stimulate intimacy and communication.

While honesty was not identified as important by the younger group in the 2013 study, trust and communication was considered essential for a successful relationship. Younger adults defined trust as being ‘able to rely on and be supportive of one another’ and ‘to be faithful to one another’.

A survey done by dating website eHarmony in 2018 in the US found that the happiest couples were aged between 25 to 34. This survey also suggested that millennials were more romantic, had regular date nights, communicated openly and often showed each other affection. Social media has also changed relationships according to Emily Holmes Hahn, matchmaker and Founder of LastFirst matchmaking. “Our relationships are becoming so much more public than they used to be” she said.

Marriage and family therapist, Erika Labuzan-Lopez, believes millennials are present and engaged with their partners – “people are starting to put attention back into relationships and the process is becoming more important than the outcome” she said. She added that “Millennials are more open to these ideas from my experience.” However, couples become less romantic over time, she said. Previous research into marriages suggested that couples are happiest during the early years of a marriage. As relationships develop into midlife, work commitments, children and financial stresses can put a great strain on the romantic bond between couples.

As couples enter middle-age and beyond, health issues, children leaving home and the prospect of facing retirement all present tough challenges to a relationship. However, research suggests that, as we get older, the experience that comes with age helps older couples recognise the importance of honesty for a long-term romantic relationship to last.

Based on articles by Kristin Fellizar in Bustle, and Kate Burke in The Journal



1. The 2013 study showed that younger adults and older adults had completely different priorities when it came to romantic relationships.



2. According to the text, older adults have smaller social networks…

a. so they rarely go out.
b. but they still like to go out with friends.
c. and they don’t communicate well with people they don’t know.


3. What does the text suggest is the reason why relationships are more public?

a. Because people share their lives on their social media.
b. People talk to their friends more about their relationships.
c. Because couples show more affection in public.


4. Marriage and family therapist, Erika Labuzan-Lope suggests that younger couples pay more attention to enjoying their time together.



5. The more complicated and difficult life becomes, the harder it is for couples to be romantic and intimate with each other.



  • What are your thoughts about the article?
  • How important do you think romance is in a relationship?
  • If you are in a relationship, how often do you do something romantic for your partner?
  • What is the most romantic thing you have ever done?
  • What is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?
  • Who are more romantic, men or women? Why?
  • What things are the most important factors in a romantic relationship?
  • Do you enjoy watching romantic comedies and films about relationships?
  • Do you like love songs? Which one is your favourite?
  • Kahlil Gibran wrote – “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.” What do you think he means?