A few weeks a go I ruminated on why I think it is so hard to re-couple a second or third (or more...) time around. I suggested that is it because the older we become, the more 'formed'we are and therefore the less flexible we get. Our values and belief systems are stronger and (hopefully) we have a far clearer view of what we want from life.
It was suggested to me by a recently re-coupled friend, that he believed that the bonding process is also much slower when we are older. At 20, or even 30, we seem to connect with someone far more quickly and easily - possibly also because we are more open to change and other perspectives that we are as we get older.
I think there's lots of truth in this - if a couple meet when they are young, they not only have less expectation but there is also a whole lot less baggage coming into their relationship. And I think that as we become more complex human beings - which with any luck comes with maturity, rather than age - we become more 'layered'- and consequently as there are more layers to uncover to reach the essential us, the place of true bonding is slower to be uncovered - possibly even harder to find.
This is not to say that we can't have that "instant zing" or feel we have a strong attachment or affinity with someone early on in a relationship, but more that the true bedding down - the development of that deep, meaningful connection, takes more time.
I also think we bring a heap of people into new relationships - every one we have had an emotional, or physical connection with has left an imprint, no matter how slight or how deep, and they are carried into this new relationship too. Even the most satisfactorily resolved breakup, was with someone we once gave a piece of our hearts to. And that has to contribute to how we are as people, and how we 'do relationships'' now.
Little wonder then that there are so many false starts and unhappy endings on this journey to meeting our soul mates (assuming you believe in "that kind of thing" - which I do). We load in so much expectation, and as well as having to peel back our own layers, have to take the time to get beneath those of the other person. It IS a process that takes time, makes us risk our own vulnerability, and also insists that we address the very things that make us who we are at the deepest level.