We are the “Millennial Generation.” “Gen-Y.” “The Tinder,” and “I-don’t-believe-in-labels generation.” Society looks at us and is shocked at our casual attitudes towards relationships and sex. But maybe, if you look hard enough, you’ll find a generation dealing with a whole bunch of insecurities, which contribute to their attitudes towards relationships.
We are the generation that has grown to question everything that earlier generations held to be true. When it comes to the question of dating and marriage though, we seem to have created a unique position for ourselves.
Our generation is known for its “hook up” culture and casual attitude towards intimacy. Sex is no longer taboo, Tinder has replaced newspaper matrimonial ads and romance is just a swipe away. A large majority of youngsters scoff at the idea of marriage, as if it were the most “uncool” thing imaginable.
But research suggests that in the long run, our generation has gone on to commit themselves to long term relationships and marriage. On the surface we may be a generation jumping from one sexual partner to another, mindlessly swiping right for romance. But beneath lies a great fear which stems from what our generation has grown up witnessing. Almost every second person amongst us seems to come from a home with divorced parents or has witnessed strained relationships at home.
We’re a generation that still wants marriage in our hearts it would seem, but are highly wary of it. Very few of us have seen happy marriages play out in front of us and the idea of it scares us.
While you’re in school you still believe in happily ever afters and dream of marrying your high school sweetheart. But once you become an adult and come to college, there seems to be a major shift in attitudes. Marriage is replaced with ideas of living in and exclusive relationships are replaced with casual hook ups and open relationships.
The lines between all of these are blurred and brushed aside with a simple, “I don’t believe in labels.” Of course you don’t. Relationships almost become a power game where the power in the relationship lies with the one who cares less. Everything is reduced to the art of pretending not to care. So for example, when you’re in a relationship, you lose a certain amount of power if you say the l-word first or when you break up, it’s a race to prove that you can move on faster because you were less emotionally invested in the previous relationship. I’ve seen it so many times, the fear of allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of another person.
Eventually hook ups are replaced by long term relationships in or after college, which then turn into a live in relationship. Live in relationships are basically a test run for marriage and compatibility and oh, how we need to make sure of compatibility, because as an article I read recently suggested, love is just not enough!
So after the high of being in love fades away, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you realise you’re also compatible with your significant other. Compatibility ranges from simply being able to exist in the same room for long periods of time without murdering each other, to sexual, intellectual, social and spiritual compatibility. And if you manage to survive that test too then marriage can be spotted in the distant horizon.
As a career driven generation, it’s understood that our 20s are a time for us to focus on and settle into our jobs. The number of people marrying in their early 20s has reduced significantly and the majority reserve their “I do’s” for their late 20s and early 30s. As mentioned before, growing up in broken homes instils a very real fear of being a part of such an environment again. And we’ve built enough walls around ourselves to make sure we never have to go through that again.
But behind our walls we’re still the kids who grew up watching Hugh Grant and Meg Ryan rom-coms, waiting for that one person to sweep us off our feet and take us to our happy place.
We’re the Millennials. We’re Generation Y. Pretending not to care, but trying so hard to get it right. So just leave us be. We’ll find our way.