There are many statistics to point towards the notion that for millennials, dating and relationships (and eventually marriage) is something hard to grasp. According to a recent report, young people are marrying later and having sex less. In 1960, 72% of all adults aged eighteen and older were married; today just 51% are. The same effect is happening across most other advanced post-industrial societies. Is it because of the hardships of meeting people? Maintaining the relationship? It’s unknown why today’s young adults are abandoning marriage or merely delaying it. Join us as we explore millennial dating trends!
40% of millennials think that dating now is harder than it was for previous generations. Yet, they still crave lasting relationships: 61% of millennials who have never married would like to someday, and similarly, 80% of millennials still say that romance is very important.
With new technologies and changing societal constructs, the dating scene for millennials can be a treacherous terrain that feels rocky and sloping. The social scripts of dating have changed drastically from those of just a couple decades ago. (A social script is something you can expect from a given social situation; it makes social settings easier to manage and lightens the cognitive load.) The rules of the game have changed drastically in the last couple of years. Here are some of the common patterns noticed by millennials.
Dating is Dead: Millennial Dating Trends
1. People just don’t go on “dates” anymore. It’s too old fashioned, too formal. A traditional date might denote several hours of one-on-one time on Friday or Saturday evening, but hangouts now can be much shorter and during any time of the day. Nowadays for a first meeting, people will grab coffee or a casual drink or just hang out. Millennials generally avoid the fancy dinner and movie, and they will never call that a date, especially not for the initials meetings. Everything is done in a casual manner.
2. Talking now means anything from physically holding a conversation to texting, snapchat, instagram, messaging or calling between two people who have a clear interest in one another but who aren’t ready to make anything official. Talking can now be done through a multitude of medias, all of which are accessible from the mobile phone. Also, talking is not necessarily an exclusive thing: you can talk to multiple people at once. There’s no way to know if the person on Tindr has been talking to just three others or thirty. Communication is done instantly, but there can be a lot lost in translation between reading letters on a screen versus talking in person.
3. Hooking up: this now is an umbrella term that has no seriousness, exclusivity or commitment. “Hooking up” can mean anything at all, but it generally has a sexual connotation tagged along with it. Many young adults opt to casually hook up with friends or strangers so that there’s no label associated with their actions. Gender roles are out of the window; it’s now very acceptable for both sexes to have a lot of casual sex.
4. The “quick jump”: usually comes after talking or hooking up or hanging out. Sometimes there is no quick jump and the relationship stays very casual for a long time until one person ends it, or disappears. There’s no in between phase for millennials where they go on dates, just this murky gray area where it’s unknown the future of the relationship. There is an extreme casual and extreme formal, and nothing else in between.
5. Dating apps: Millennials have access to hundreds of thousands of individuals through the internet. Online dating is growing more and more popular and there are many different applications to use now, some of which include Tindr, Bumble, Grindr, and eHarmony. In the technosexual era, the prevalence of these dating apps makes dating easier and more efficient, but it doesn’t necessary lead to successful long-term relationships. Online dating can be tricky. Online daters are picky and can scan through multiple profiles a day. Access to a lot of different people and ideas leads to indecisiveness — too many choices paralyze us–this is known as the “choice paradox”. Also, couples who meet online are more likely to break up than those who met offline, according to a longitundinal survey study conducted by Stanford University titled “How Couples Meet and Stay Together”.
6. Ghosting is when someone you meet online just disappears after a few hangouts. It’s sort of like catfishing, but the other person disappears because they’re not interested without ever really telling the other person that they’re not interested anymore. This is a very common trend as people are able to hide behind their cellphones and the internet; 80% of millennials say they have been ghosted.
7. Most young millennials begin real relationships from either long term friendships, work connections, or by meeting friends of friends. Again there are no dates.
Thanks to all the internet and its illusion of the availability of people, millennials suffer from persistent anxiety about the ones that got away, and/or fear of choosing the wrong one. Social media has transformed our communication and also seemingly distanced us from going steady when we date. In this impulsive dating climate, the dramatized commitment that comes with a relationship just seems too limiting (at least that’s what the propaganda says). Whether it’s the infinite number of potential soulmates out there that keep us from finding contentment with the one currently sitting across the table from us, or the delayed professional satisfaction, millennials avoid commitment and hate settling; they have the unwillingness to find satisfaction in what is presently good, the loss of the traditional values like loyalty and commitment, the inability to learn about one person at a time.
How can a millennial improve their dating prospects?
Firstly, change your beliefs.
“Millennials only know a life of fast-paced, action-packed days structured with engaging people. Couple that with social media telling them that they deserve better, they know they have options that were not afforded to previous generations. We’ve all been taught to toss everything that isn’t an insta-perfect fit,” says assistant professor Marisa T Cohen, co-founder of the Self Awareness And Bonding Lab at St. Francis College. In reality, people haven’t changed too much from the last couple generations. Singles are still bad at predicting their own preferences, unsurprisingly. And despite what cultural conditions will tell us, no person with real emotions and real flaws is going to do exactly what we want them to do 100% of the time. Millennials will have to look past the curse of the paradox of the choice.
Figure out what you really want. Search for signs of a quality significant other, and if you find what you’re looking for, hold on to them. If someone isn’t perfect but he is always kind-hearted and super supportive and you can laugh together, what is important here?
With an open mind, change your behaviors.
Communicate and give.
Examine the whys and the whats. Why are you attracted to this type of person or relationship? What am you getting from this? Use new opportunities to heal old wounds. Instead of spending time trying to figure out why your partner can’t commit, spend your time figuring out why you won’t commit. Don’t be an over analyzer or a problem solver of others. You can only help yourself.
Relationships are hard work, and you cannot expect something potentially lifelong to only take a partial commitment. People make mistakes, and you can’t be afraid of investing in someone who is rough around the edges. Love isn’t found, but created with commitment, patience and teamwork.
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