Why Is Our Generation So Terrified of Relationships?

I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends in their twenties lately who seem to be having issues with relationships. Or, rather, they are trying to strictly control what does or doesn’t count as a relationship. It occurred to me today that a lot of twenty-somethings seem to not want relationships right now, and it really got me thinking. Why could this be?

1. Not wanting to be tied down.

This I don’t fully understand because you aren’t obligated to spend all your time with the person. Every relationship is different. Don’t look at your friends and see that they go everywhere together and feel like that’s what you would be getting yourself into.

2. I’m young, I’ve got plenty of time.

Certainly you do! But what if you meet someone you could definitely see yourself with, and turn them away just because you are young and not thinking about it right now? I’m just saying it’s a good idea to have an open mind. You never know when someone great will happen to you.

3. General disgust at “couple-y” couples.

The kind who make out on the bus, play footsie under the table in restaurants, share secrets and giggle when others around, making everyone very uncomfortable. It’s nauseating, even if you’re in love as well. Don’t worry, that’s just a phase. Soon the flood of hormones to their brains will die down and they will stop being love zombies and go back to being the people you’re used to them being. As for the worry that you’ll turn into that, unfortunately there is no cure. Except possibly knowledge.

4. Fear it will end poorly.

Fear is a very powerful motivator. We keep hearing about how half of all marriages fail, and have watched marriages of people around us, even celebrities, fall apart. No one wants to be in that 50% who get divorced. And even though we all think it would never be our marriage, part of us still worries that it could be.

I love you

I love you (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

5. Too many options.

I was reading an article somewhere a while ago that thought that monogamy is dying. I think part of that is because our generation is so used to technology and information and everything we could want right at our fingertips. We don’t need to work to find what we are looking for. And when we don’t want it anymore, we power it off and forget all about it. A serious relationship isn’t an iPhone, though, and you can’t just replace it when the next better thing comes along. We need to realize that even when there are many options out there for us, sometimes it’s best to stick with the old thing that works fine.

6. Because the system itself is stupid.

Eloquently put. You can probably see why marriage exists in the first place. If you didn’t have a partner who swore to help you and your children a few thousand years ago, there was a good chance you wouldn’t survive. Nowadays I agree that marriage happens a lot just because people feel like it is expected of them. Maybe it’s not all bad, though. Even now there are a lot of benefits to being married, such as financial security. If you’re against marriage just because it is what society expects, that’s fine. You can still form a bond with someone that will last for the long run, without the rings and ceremony. I think in the next few decades this will be an emerging trend.

7. The “I can get all the good things I want from a relationship without having to actually *ugh* talk to the person” attitude.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand the concept of friends with benefits. If the whole point is to get sex and not fall in love, which your brain wants to do because it is telling you that finding a partner is good for the continuation of the human species, why go to such elaborate measures to avoid it? No cuddling, no dates, just sex? Half the fun of being in a relationship is stealing someone else’s body heat on cold nights and doing date nights that you can’t do with your friends. I think secretly a lot of guys wish someone would drag them to that chick movie but refuse to go alone or with other dudes.

8. And another thing about friends with benefits…

I don’t believe the “we will still be friends and everything will go back to normal after we’re done” way of thinking. Once you’ve seen someone naked a certain amount of times, there’s no way things won’t be at least a little bit different. But I also have no knowledge on the subject and am just speculating so feel free to jump down to the comments and share your experience!

9. Waiting for the right one, not just any one.

This might be true if you could look at someone and have a little light go off in your head saying “That’s them! The one person you’re meant to be with for the rest of your life!” Quick, don’t let them get away! Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Assuming you believe that there is one “right person” out there for you, how will you know them when you see them if you don’t actually take the time to get to know them? And if you don’t believe in the “one right person” idea, then you have even less to lose by getting to know somebody. Even if it doesn’t work out romantically, you might meet a really cool person and gain an awesome friend out of it. A date doesn’t have to lead to a long-term relationship, a relationship isn’t the same as marriage, and marriage isn’t a document that you sign your soul over on for the rest of eternity. There’s ways out if it doesn’t work. You are never stuck with what you have if you aren’t happy.

I’m hoping this post will spike a bit of discussion. What do you guys think?


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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

6 responses to “Why Is Our Generation So Terrified of Relationships?”

  1. A.R.C. Huffhines says :

    I read something in The Atlantic Monthly a few months ago about how our generation avoids relationships in early adulthood because relationships distract from professional or collegiate life. Similar to what you were saying about technology, I think that our generation is so spoiled when immoderately getting what we want, when we want, that the majority of us don’t know how to properly balance the different aspects of our lives (like perpetually being ‘all in’ in a poker game). So when it comes to relationships, I think that most of us have never really learned how to take things in moderation, thus, we either focus completely on school and professional growth, or completely on romantic love and relationships.

  2. hooahdog says :

    I don’t mind relationships so much as I don’t like titles (I actually wrote about that). I’m not quite sure why but one theory is that to me, a title makes things a lot more complicated.

  3. The Rambling Man (aka The Night Hawk Photographer) says :

    Speaking from a particularly naive point of view, only having ever been in one relationship, I agree with pretty much everything you say here. I’ve never understood the whole friends-with-benefits bullcr*p and I never will believe in it.

    I agree getting to know people is the best way of finding that “special one” that’s out there for you, instead of just focusing on trying to know them when you see them; it’s just I wish I could practice that instead of being the rather awkward guy who never really gets out of the friend zone (or gets trapped there far too often… depending on how you look at it).

    Going to try online dating. Tried the free sites and they were pretty awful, I’ll give one of the paid sites a whirl and see. After all, it’s only money…

    But thanks for the insights, they’re really interesting 🙂

  4. thesuburbsessions says :

    I guess my husband and I are two of the very few 20-somethings who got married because it’s something we believe in. We didn’t get married because we wanted ‘financial security’ or ‘tax benefits’ or any wrong reason. We got married because we actually love each other enough to want to spend the rest of our lives together.

    Most of our friends and family that are in and around our age are also engaged or married. The rest just haven’t found “the one” yet, but are looking. So I guess there isn’t lost hope on this generation 🙂

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