My generation is, for the most part, emotionally detached. We are so used to instant gratification that we lose our touch with one another – if someone isn’t what we want, we take it to mean that they never will be, and we move on. Now, I don’t think that any of us should be forced to settle – but there’s a world of difference between “not settling” and “being too damn picky”. And then there are those of us who, in an effort to keep our options open, completely blow any chance at true love that we might have – just because we don’t want to be tied down.
I think it’s safe to say that this generation has lost its touch with romance.
I understand that not everyone can be a cassanova, and that’s okay. You don’t have to be a living, breathing romance novel to incorporate a little bit of love in your everyday life. (And, in fact, I think that would get a little annoying, don’t you?)
1. We rely too much on convenience.
Once upon a time, if someone wanted a nice meal, they’d have to know how to cook – or they’d have to travel. These days, you can pick up some gourmet fare at your local grocery store, pop it in the microwave for three minutes, and it’s like you just travelled to Italy for an afternoon snack. My generation grew up surrounded by these conveniences – and we don’t know how to live without them.
When we transfer this to our romantic relationships, we expect things to come easy. We don’t want to put a lot of effort into it, so we stick with the easiest option. That can mean staying in a relationship that’s unfulfilling, because it’s too hard to leave, but never trying to fix things because that’s hard, too.
Yes – staying in love takes work. But it’s also wonderful, beautiful work that lets you and your partner to grow. And if you’re doing it with someone who cares as much as you do, it’s not all that hard, because you’re not alone. Your relationship should never be all work – but it shouldn’t be a walk in the park, either.
2. We want instant gratification.
This goes along with the whole age-of-convenience thing. Not only are we used to things being easy, we’re also used to getting what we want, very quickly. There’s no reason to woo a partner anymore, because if we want sex, we can click a few buttons on our phone and meet someone who’s ready to go in an hour. There’s no time to go to the movies, because we all have Netflix. There’s no reason to go out to dinner because we just cooked up a little bit of Italy at 1100 watts.
This takes away the reason to grow with our partner. We want to find someone who’s already established, who has everything together, who has a car and a fat wallet and a perfect body… Most of us aren’t really willing to wait around until things get better, because there’s another option just a few clicks away – why bother waiting a few years?
Yes – staying in love is a lifelong process. But when you find an incomplete person, and work together to build each other up to the peaks of success, everything else falls into place. If you slip a little, you’ve got someone to catch you – because she’s been through failure, too. Love doesn’t happen overnight, but it does grow every day.
3. We like to party, and we don’t like anyone telling us we can’t.
Let me preface this by saying – I enjoy a good party. It’s a great way to relax after some hard work, and it’s a great way to keep in touch with all your friends in one sitting. But the problem lies within those of us who only want to party. Alcohol and drugs fuel the parties, most of the time, and we’re rarely ourselves when we first meet someone.
Some of us may even use the drugs and alcohol as a way to fuel our search for Mrs. Right. We think that we’re going to find her at the club, and things are going to work out great, because we have the same interests. The only problem with this is that, at some point, most of us try to get out of that lifestyle – and it’s not healthy to stay with someone who’s stuck in the chapter of life that you’re trying to pass.
Yes – partying, drinking, and getting high are all fun, and it can be a great way to meet new people. But unless you take the time to get to know them outside of that light, the two of you are never really going to know each other – you’re just going to like partying together. Then, should one of you decide to clear your head, you’ll see your partner in a whole new light – and it might not be one you wanted to see.
4. We’re sexually free, and we prefer to keep it that way.
Some of us sleep around – a lot. There’s not anything inherently wrong with that, but over time it desensitizes us, and it takes away the “special-ness” of it all. When we’re giving our sexual energy and attention to so many people, our mind can’t tell the difference between sex and love, so it considers the two equal. Since sex feels better than feelings, we avoid taking things further than that.
But love can be wonderful, and when you fully trust a person with every part of yourself (and the feeling is mutual) you can feel it all the way to your soul. The sound of their voice has the power to make you smile, and you know that there’s more to what you have than an exchange of bodily fluids.
Yes – sex is great. But it opens the possibility for heartbreak. When you open yourself up to someone, whether sexually or emotionally, they will always hold a piece of you. The same hormones are responsible for love as for orgasm, so when we immerse ourselves in one, we can forget about the other. It’s hard to find the one when you’re only giving them a night.
5. We’re conceited.
In some ways, it’s great. Women are finally being more body positive, which is absolutely wonderful! We are learning the power of our voices and we are using that power for great and incredible things. Women are changing the world, and finally getting recognition for how awesome we all really are!
But this can translate into selfishness in our relationships. We care less about the other person’s feelings because we’re just trying to make sure our needs are met. After all, this is the age of the Strong Independent Woman – everyone out for themselves, right?
Yes – you should always consider your own needs and happiness. But you should also think of the needs and feelings of others. You’re not responsible for fixing everyone, but if just a few words could change someone’s life, isn’t it worth the time it would take to say them?
6. We like dating – but not those pesky feelings.
Dating is fun, and it’s supposed to be. You’re supposed to have a good time. After all, this woman isn’t your wife, but she’s a little more than your friends – the best of both worlds. But commitment is scary, especially when coupled with feelings. Nothing good lasts forever, so the longer we wait to label things, the longer they’ll last (at least in our minds).
But the feelings come anyway, and they scare us. We don’t want to be tied down to the same person, and we freak out because that’s what commitment seems like. The closer we want to get to someone, the further we push them away, just in case they don’t feel the same way. But sometimes they do feel the same way, and we hurt them by trying to micro-manage the situation.
Yes – commitment is scary. But it’s a wonderful, beautiful kind of scary, like your favorite horror movie, or a roller coaster. Once you get past the rough parts, it’s never as bad as you thought it would be – and you actually wouldn’t mind doing it all over the next day.
7. We still believe in fairy tales.
Is it just me, or do most 20-somethings still watch cartoons and Disney movies on a regular basis? And if it’s not cartoons, it’s romantic comedies… We want to see that happy ending where Prince Charming (or the Princess) comes along and kisses all our nightmares away. Suddenly, everything else in our life is perfect and we don’t ever have to work or cry or brush our hair again.
But it’s not really like that. Love isn’t this magical feeling that happens when you least expect it – it’s something that happens when you actively work to create it. Your Princess Charming probably won’t be everything you ever wanted. It’s more likely she’ll be the one you never knew you needed.
Yes – love at first sight is a romantic thought. But it’s not real. If you’re looking for the kind of love that sweeps you off your feet and carries you out to sea, real love is going to be a disappointment… Unless you make the effort to make it happen. No one is going to give you everything you ever dreamed of without getting something in return. But if you’re lucky, it’ll be worth the trade.
8. We think we deserve credit just for showing up.
It’s often been said that my generation is “the generation that got trophies just for participating”. Come to think of it, I think I have seven or eight trophies from all the years I spent chasing butterflies on a baseball diamond. We don’t bother to put in the extra effort because we figure someone else is going to reward us for it anyway!
But real life isn’t like that. If you’re involved in anything where all you have to do is show up… You are being cheated, my friend. Nothing worth having comes easy, and the best things in life are going to take everything you have. On the upside, though, the harder you work at it, the more satisfying it’ll be when you finally get it.
Yes – our generation celebrates laziness. But even though hard work doesn’t get as much praise, the feelings you get within yourself make it all the more worthwhile. Once you’ve had a taste of real winning, you’ll never settle for runner-up again. And from the first time you feel real, deep love… You’ll never truly enjoy another meaningless affair.
9. We want perfect, even though we know it’s not real.
Most of us are “waiting” for the one who’s going to answer all our prayers. The one who comes in with the pinstriped suit and a puppy, driving our dream car and singing our praises from the first day. (No? Just me?) We don’t like to settle for anything less, because the fear of missing out makes us think that – as soon as we fall in love with someone else – Mrs. Perfect is going to come along, and we’ll be trapped into staying with Ms. Good Enough.
But there’s no such thing as perfect, and there never will be. If you refuse to give a good woman a shot because you think there might be someone better, you’re going to miss out on a lot more than you think. You could be passing up the woman who’s as close to perfect as you can get, just for the small chance that there might be just one out there who’s prettier and smarter. (I really hope that’s not your specific reasons, but I hope I’ve made my point.)
Yes – you should insist that your partner make you happy. But she’s not the only one responsible. If your demands are truly too high, no one is ever going to make you happy. True happiness starts from within and spreads outward, and so does love.
But it’s not a lost cause – there’s still hope for our generation. I know there are still some of us out there who love truly and deeply, and as long as we don’t let the Optimists and the Perfectionists and the Serial Daters change us, the idea of love and romance will live on into the future – and that’s good enough for me.