Hey, fellow millennial (if you’re not a millennial then can relate to you as well). You might have noticed that our generation has a bit of a problem with relationships. How many people do you know who are either not doing the whole relationship thing right now, or who are doing it but are having all kinds of drama?
It’s a far cry from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations where courtship, engagement, commitment and then marriage were the name of the game. Previous generations went on long walks or out to the cinema, got to know each other’s families (and you just know a lot of those families were comprised of 2-4 children with a dog and a comfortable station wagon), and then started picking out wedding invitation designs.
Not similar to our generation at all! In fact, recent data from the Pew Research Center showed that millennials are far less likely to get married than any other generation in modern history. It got me thinking – what’s up with that? Why are we as a generation so commitment phobic? Just what is it that makes relationships so scary to the millennials?
Here are some of the thoughts that came to me.
We Can Break Up So Easily
Before the internet and even regular text messaging was a thing, breaking up with someone was a lot harder. You had to do it in person, or at least over the phone. My mom sometimes tells the story of the first time she got her heartbroken – her high school boo called her up the morning of a date and after a long awkward silence told her “yeah, I’m gonna go hang out with Marie today.” My mom still gets that edge in her voice when she talks about “that Marie.” Millennials don’t have to face that kind of awkwardness. You can end it with someone with a quick text message or on Facebook. I don’t think that’s a good thing – don’t people deserve to be talked to in person about the end of their relationship? But it is a thing that happens and it makes it so much easier to shirk commitment.
We Have Unrealistic Expectations
Most of us grew up on a steady diet of movies and shows that taught us there’s someone out there for everyone. And now we’re constantly subjected to advertising that tells us to expect the best and accept no less. All those messages get into your head and color your view of the world. Am I saying we should just settle with our relationships? Absolutely not! But sometimes it’s OK to look for someone who isn’t the ultimate prince charming, “cool”, or your idea of perfect. I think we need to relax a little and let the people we date be imperfect and quirky.
We’re Risk Averse
When you think of a careful generation you probably think of the Baby Boomers, with their long careers and a gold carriage clock when they retired, or their propensity to save and invest money. OK, the whole “wholesome as Mom’s apple pie” thing is a bit of a myth, but the Boomers definitely had a steadier way of life. The fact is though, we millennials are a lot more risk-averse than the Boomers. We’ve grown up and are currently trying to make our way in the world, during very turbulent times. We’ve seen some huge financial crises and many of us are haunted by the specters of student debts, cost of living, and the impossibility of getting on the property ladder. We want to be sure the risks we take are worth it, and committing to a relationship feels like a big risk.
We Don’t Want To Be Seen As Clingy
I think that more than any generation before, the millennials are the most focused on carving out their sense of self. I’m not saying other generations didn’t do this too – they did – but we live in a world where selfies, Instagram, and the craze for social media “likes” have made it so easy to project the image we want to project into the world. We carefully curate our lives and store them all on the interwebs. The only problem is, we carry that over into our relationships too. We want the people we date to see the best of us. We want them to connect with the person we want the world to see and we don’t want to be seen as clingy, needy, or too focused on the other person. The way we date and communicate is so different to the generations before us. Is that a bad thing? No, not at all. But I do wonder if our generation is missing out a bit on the joy of making a deep commitment to another person and being a team for life. What do you think?
Author Bio:-Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.