“Millennials don’t want relationships,” I read this morning on social media.
Are millennials responsible for the death of relationships as well?
Once my initial reaction was out of the way, I started to think about this claim a little deeper.
In this culture of Tinder and social media dating, you are more apt to hear people wonder about what the future of dating is. Is there some validity to this claim that millennials don’t want romantic relationships in a society where contact is established through a screen?
As a millennial myself, do I want a relationship?
Well, yes. Someday. But it isn’t high on my list of priorities right now.
I am 23, and right now, my life is a little bit rocky. I’m in the process of figuring out how I can move to another city. I’m trying to decide what I want to do with my life. My career and the pursuit of my dreams have taken priority for the past few years, as I learn to navigate through this crazy, little world that I inherited. I would eventually like a relationship, but I don’t necessarily see myself settling into an image of domesticity, at least not anytime soon. Right now, I’m still trying to find myself.
And so are the majority of my fellow millennial friends. I have friends who have jumped from relationship to relationship, not because they don’t want to stay in one, but because they’re still learning and figuring themselves out. I have friends whose every romantic encounter is a Tinder hookup because they aren’t emotionally prepared to settle down yet. I have friends who settle into happy, serious relationships, and then a few months later, break up and post all about the whole experience on social media.
Personally, I don’t see any of this as a sign that millennials don’t want a relationship. It’s just that many of us are still very young.
Why do I keep hearing people say that millennials don’t want relationships, or that millennials don’t know how to make lasting connections with people?
This a pretty common complaint about every new generation of youths. Let’s face it: elders like to complain about us. Considering that young people are consistently trying to find themselves and explore their environment, whether it’s the 1960s or the age of Tinder, this is probably going to continue being a complaint for many years to come. The baby boomers will say it about us. The millennials will say it about the next generation. It’s the circle of life.
I also think that there’s another side to all this, and it’s something that I touched on briefly earlier: the definition of “what a relationship is” is slowly but surely changing.
Divorce rates in America peaked at about 40 percent in 1980. Although this number has been declining ever since, this does mean that many millennials grew up in households where their biological parents were split up. We are the generation of stepparents and single parents, and we are also the generation that grew up with both parents working outside of the house.
Because of this, it is estimated that the marriage rate might drop to 70 percent in millennials compared to 91 percent of baby boomers.
We’re killing the wedding industry too. Heteronormative marriage ideals.
It isn’t the divorce rate that might make millennials wonder about marriage. As we talk more and more about the role of women in our society, women are encouraged toward pursuing careers and building lives outside of the home. More and more, we’re moving away from this idea that the only thing a woman can be is a wife and mother.
As Time put it, “Millennials want jobs and education, not marriage and kids.” In fact, according to them, 55 percent of millennials said that marriage and kids aren’t important.
This goes back to what I was saying before: relationships aren’t a priority for me right now. I want a satisfying career and education, and as a woman in 2018, I have more freedom than ever to get that. A satisfying relationship can come later, when I’m a little bit more adjusted and sure of myself.
Relationships are becoming increasingly less weirdly Stepford with time. We are talking more and more about such issues as heteronormativity and how harmful that can become. Same-sex relationships are becoming more and more accepted within society, meaning that today’s youth are more open-minded than ever. Only 65 percent of millennials identify as exclusively heterosexual—and already, this is becoming an outdated statistic, as only 48 percent of Americans between the ages of 13 to 20 identify as exclusively heterosexual. According to the survey conducted by the J Walter Thompson Innovation Group, a significant amount of today’s youth identify as bisexual.
I’m not trying to say that any of this is a negative thing. On the contrary, I think it’s amazing.
I think that millennials these days have more freedom when it comes to relationships than any generation has ever had before. I’m curious to see where we’ll take this freedom as more of us grow older and more mature and more prepared to settle into relationships, or not—whatever makes each individual person happy.
I think that for too long, relationships have had a solid structure that each person is expected to follow, or at least pretend to follow. This structure works for some people, but not for everyone. And right now, millennials are creating the freedom to build new relationships that work better for each individual person. Will this trend continue? Or are we destined to become the stubborn, old curmudgeons, complaining about the next generation and their inability to form healthy, normal relationships? That, I suppose, only time will tell.
Author: Ciara Hall
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina