What Do You Believe About Modern Relationships?
If you Google ‘Modern Relationships,’ you’ll find a medley of bitter blog posts and cynical tweets about why Millennials fail to commit. Our Facebook feeds are full of reasons why modern love is doomed.It can seem like everyone is happily single (because relationships are a waste of time), unhappily single (because break-ups are the worst), or soon-to-be single (because commitment is boring/stressful/hard). And those of us who are in relationships find ourselves crossing our fingers, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even some so-called experts are declaring a state of emergency for millennial relationships.
We believe them, so they’re right.
We say our generation is too busy, too self-involved, too distracted. Our generation blames technology, our upbringing, our finances, and each other. We swipe right, hook up, hang out, and disappear. But that’s just the world we live in. Right?
We all have a natural tendency to believe what we see. When our social media feeds are full of unhappy people bemoaning relationships, we can’t help but think that happy couples don’t exist. But the truth is, people in strong relationships are just too busy putting work into their partnerships to rave about how awesome they are online. And in today’s culture, avoiding social media can be like wearing an invisibility cloak.
Marriage used to be the only acceptable channel for love, sex and long-term intimacy. Nowadays, there are other options. And that’s great! There have been countless apps made to facilitate, simulate and imitate nearly every aspect of human connection. But with so many ways to diffuse our feelings, it’s easier than ever to see what we want to see, and believe only what makes us comfortable.
So what’s the real reason behind our failure to commit? Hint: It’s not me, it’s you.
Relationships are not any harder today than they were fifty years ago. The only difference between our commitment issues and that of our grandparents is simple: we just have fancy phones, now. Back in the day, a shitty relationship was still shitty, whether divorce was an option or not. Modern couples don’t have new problems; we just spend more time whining about them online.
The truth is, modern technology hasn’t changed your need for connection; it’s simply enhanced it. You, the socially connected-yet-chronically-isolated Millennial, are not too ‘damaged’ for love. You’re just more afraid of it.
It’s an easy problem to ignore; there’s nothing wrong with being single. And it’s great that we’ve accepted single life as an acceptable lifestyle in society. But there are ways to enjoy our options without writing off our need for love. Some of us really can be happy staying single forever – but too many people are simply living in denial of their needs. It’s more convenient to say we’re incapable of commitment, than to face the real issue (ourselves). With so many other big problems to deal with in life, it’s easier to buy into the notion that relationships just ‘suck,’ rather than investing time and energy into their success.
If you continually blame your heartbreak on society, know that your dream guy or girl might be, too. And denying love’s potential just makes you 100% more likely to never make that connection. Dodging relationship obstacles (rather than overcoming them) is the quickest route to failure.
Success in love is just like success anywhere else; it takes work. If you set out to run a marathon, only to quit the second you start feeling uncomfortable [or tired, scared or in pain]… you won’t even get halfway. If your goal is to make a million dollars, but you won’t take risks, bounce back from loss, endure criticism, or spend years in pursuit of that goal…you’ll never be rich. Why should love be any different?
We are fully capable of greatness. Our generation lives for passion, persistence and ingenuity. We are not ‘lazy,’ as trends had once predicted. But now that ‘lazy’ has been replaced with ‘anti-social,’ we have a new label to overcome. Millennials are devoted to making dreams happen. But when it comes to love, we’ve fallen and can’t get up.
Success in a long-term love isn’t harder for Millennials; it’s just not as mandatory. We don’t choose to see committed love as important as wealth, fitness, travel, or other #goals. We’re lonely, and it’s our own damn fault.
Changing your story begins by making a choice. If you want to find (and keep) the love of your life, a shift in perspective needs to happen. Happy relationships are like any other goal: we choose to fail every day that we don’t try.
Eat your vegetables, or don’t. Apply for jobs, or remain unemployed. Exercise daily, or complain that it’s too hard. Either way, success or failure is your decision. You can work hard to get better at love, or you can keep pretending it’s impossible. A mistake doesn’t have to mean ‘game over.’ Pain does not have to be death. You can let failure push you away from your goal, or use what you’ve learned to do better next time.
They say, “Success comes when opportunity meets readiness.” You may have a wealth of opportunity, but none of the readiness. And for right now, that’s okay. Skill and luck in love can only come with practice.