What is a relationship? What is it for? Why do I feel this obscure need of being with someone? Is it possible to live with someone whole life and be happy? Is it possible to be happy alone? How much should I involve myself in a relationship? Where is the healthy border between “me” and “you”? Should I wait until you text me or should I text you?
These and many other questions are following me since I became a young adult. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks of this.
Are we experiencing a breakthrough of approach to relationships? What are the differences between our generation and generation of our parents, grandparents? If they were divorcing more rarely – was it because they were happier than us, or because it wasn’t socially accepted? They definitely weren’t less egoistic, which I wrote about in previous note. Then – which factor was decisive?
Do our parents have doubts?
Divorces yet 40 years ago were something pretty rare, socially not that accepted as today. In 90′ in Poland we had average 40k divorces every year, in 2013, this number increased to 66k (at the same time we had 22k fewer marriages than in 2012). That’s a lot.1
Being honest, I feel like getting married is weirder for me than not taking it. I’ve seen so many divorces and unhappy marriages in my life I don’t think I’d be ever ready to get one. And that’s definitely not my dream to do so.
The only thing I think is meaningful in marriages is access to medical data and priority to inherit. But those two things you may do with simple legal acts.
# Ok, but that happens only to marriages. Right?
No. Statistics shows that we do not only get married less. Fewer of us are in committed relationships in general. Percentage of young adults who report being single and not living with someone had risen in the past decade, from 52% in 2004 to 64% in 2014. That’s a lot. 2
Do you know a movie titled “Her”, by Spike Jonze? It is about the relationship between human and AI. They could never touch themselves. They would never argue (AI could analyse and fit into human’s moods). Maybe that’s the future that awaits us? In our times, which I would call “focus on yourself, you should be the most important for yourself” we require another person to fit into our life, our routine, our moods. If it doesn’t work we break up. After 3 trials we simply find that it does not make sense. So we stop trying. Period. Relationships are not for me.
# Looking for love. Online.
Online dating is getting more and more popular. Among my friends at least 1/3 (of those who are single and looking) use Tinder. And it’s totally not something anyone is ashamed of. When you ask “how do you got to know each other?” to a couple and you hear “online” you’re not shocked anymore. Like, whatever. And that’s good, I find online dating as good as any other way to get to know new people.
38% of adults who are “single and looking” have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps to look for a partner. That makes 11% of all American adults.3
5% of those who are currently married or in a long-term partnership met their partner online. Among those who have been together for ten years or less, 11% met online.4
Those aren’t a small number. These numbers make millions of people worldwide. It’s not an exception anymore, it’s a part of the rule.
# Sex, please.
Guess what. Statistics say that Baby Boomers (generation of our parents) had on average 11 sexual partners, which is 3 more than we, as Millennials, do!5 (This number might yet change, as we are still alive. Lol.)
Why do we have less sexual partners? I mean we’re the generation who everybody call “hook up” generation, we should have them twice as our parents! There are no studies about this yet, so we might only guess.
At the same time, we observe steady growth in the acceptance of many kinds of sexual behaviour since the 1970s. Currently, 55% of us think that sex before marriage is ok, yet in 1970 the percentage was only 29%.6
Meanwhile, we’ve become less tolerant of extramarital sex – only 1% of people accepted it in 2012 while in 1973 it was 4%.7
That’s funny, right? We are more tolerant of many sexual behaviours and at the same time we have less sexual partners.
Changes are also coming to professional life. Yet in 1976 only 27,6% of mothers with children under 3-years-old were working. Today, this percentage is already 64,4%.8
If both parents are working most of them claim nobody’s career is more important, but at the same time, half of them say dad makes more money.9
# Love? Pffff.
Ok, now my part. We already have dry data with which nobody can argue. What if we are all infected with a vision of relationship made my mass media, culture, religion? I mean, we all grew up with Disney cartoons, we all read Andersen’s fairy tales, most of us have been touched somehow (or strongly) by catholic religion. As kids, we take all as normal. Or opposite – nothing is normal, that’s why we accept everything. If somebody tells us that daddy can fly we believe him. Maybe we took as granted, that relationships are the only way to be happy and it’s eating us from inside?
What if most of us dream about something that doesn’t exist? Romantic relationship until death tears us apart. To be honest, I’m not sure if any couple that I know is a happy couple.
Well. This part is I guess the most pessimistic from all 3 parts of Generation Me series. But I tried to be honest… Let me know what are your thoughts on this!