*(And reasons why they don’t.)
-This post was originally written by request (with alternate edits) for LoveTV.-
A lot of people ask me why, and I don’t blame them.
This was our actual engagement photo, because marriage is jail.*
Modern relationships suck. Didn’t you know? It’s everywhere.
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 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.
A lot of click-bait articles and relationship ‘experts’ are declaring a state of emergency for millennial love. We believe them, so they’re right.
We say our generation is too busy, too self-involved, too distracted. We blame 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 all we see on social media are unhappy people bemoaning relationships, happy couples look pretty delusional. But the truth is, people in strong relationships might just be too busy putting work into their partnerships to gush 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 those 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 raving about them online.
I think that modern technology hasn’t changed our need for connection, but simply enhanced it. We, the socially connected-yet-chronically-isolated Millennials, are not too ‘damaged’ for love. We’ve just grown more afraid of it.
It’s an easy problem to ignore, because there’s nothing wrong with being single. It’s great that we’ve accepted single life as a positive thing. But there are ways to enjoy our options without writing off our basic human needs. Some of us really are happy being single or celibate forever (I see you, Aces!) But for many, it’s more convenient to say we’re ‘incapable of commitment’ than to face our real issues (fear, insecurity, unhealthy patterns, etc.).
With so many other big problems to deal with in life, it’s easier to buy into the notion that relationships just ‘suck,’ instead of investing time and energy into their success.
But here’s the thing – 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 (and not 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 can’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 fall and can’t get up.
I’m not saying this to discourage anyone, or to label a whole generation – quite the opposite. I just think Millennials are capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.
Success in long-term love isn’t harder for us; it’s just not as mandatory. We don’t choose to see committed love as important as wealth, fitness, travel, or other #goals. This is why, when we reach success in all these other areas, a lot of us are still unhappy. Victory doesn’t always taste as sweet when there’s nobody to share it with.
So here’s some unsolicited advice from someone who’s definitely not an expert but has learned some stuff the hard way: 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 loving yourself and others, 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.” Millennials have a wealth of opportunity, but a lot of us just aren’t ready. And for now, that’s okay.
Skill and luck in love can only come with practice. So get out there and practice.
* P.S. – Marriage is not jail. It’s like a really fun amusement park, with a long line to the bathroom and no exits whatsoever. Thanks, Mitch. I love you.
I am not an expert, and nothing I write should replace professional help.
You can see the original piece on LoveTV here.
You are wonderful. Thank you for reading.