Only several years ago, the traditional way of living on nearly a universal level was summarized in finding a nine-to-five job, buying a house, and starting a big family.
The Millenials, however, are questioning all of these traditions, especially the concept of marriage.
According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of adults aged 18-29 were married in 1960. By 2011, this number had dropped to 20%. Some people blame the modern hookup culture. As they say, romance is just on the way out as a societal value. Others refer to feminism, claiming that the greater number of opportunities available to modern women gives them the freedom to choose whether or not they would like to be married – a choice that our grandmothers didn’t have. Still, some blame economic uncertainty, the lack of suitable partners, or the so-called growing sense of worldwide cynicism.
We, Millennials, like having options. We value our independence and our sense of self. We embrace chances. We put a high premium on our personal freedom. And who can blame us?
As such, Millennials are more hesitant than any other generation before making lifetime commitments.
Despite the popular belief, the Millennials are not out daily having wild and indiscriminate sex with lots of strangers. Actually, according to The Journal of Sex Research, today’s students aren’t any more promiscuous than the students in the generation before us. Their research indicated that 31.6% of students who attended college between 2002 and 2010 reported having over one sexual partner in one year. College students between 1988 and 1996 had reported an almost identical 31.9%.
Other quantitative research goes further in support of this theory. As the Washington Post reported, Millennials are engaging with fewer sexual partners than the two generations before. Baby Boomers were reported to average about 11 partners during their adulthood. Generation X averaged 10. Nevertheless, Millennials can expect an average of only 8.
So the hookup culture might still play a role in the falling marital rates but not in the way we would have expected.
Tinder might be holding us from walking down the aisle – but it isn’t because our easy access to it fills our calendars with frequent one night stands. On the contrary, it’s overwhelming our minds with options. An abundance of choices sounds great in theory, right? However, in reality, it can become even more paralyzing than liberating.
As Caroline Beaton writes in “Why Millennials Are so Stressed—and What to Do about It”, the modern habit of keeping an eye on our options can ironically end up limiting our chances for happiness. It makes it hard to settle down with one person, while there are thousands of others out there. Of course, that’s not a problem for everyone. Some people are happy with their one, while others are happy with having many choices. The problem is that we’ve lost the definition of perfect and we think we can have it all. The overwhelming amount of choices make us think that our lives can be perfect and make us forget that nothing is ever totally perfect.
So, we feel compelled to keep on searching. We often forget what it is that we’re looking for. We just know we still haven’t found it.
The best thing to do if you’re trapped in choices is to stop searching for absolute perfection. Instead, focus on your priorities which signify what’s important to you. Is it freedom? A family? Many dates until you want to settle down? Never settling down? Everything is fine as long as you know what it is that you need most in life.
And if you do want a relationship, keep your eye on your partner’s substantial qualities. Find out what these qualities will be for you because they’re not the same for everyone.
Like Paul Oyer, an economics professor at Stanford University, suggested, modern people might need to broaden their scope and stop demanding flawlessness from their partners.
Kristen Dombek of the New York Times agrees and adds: “When we find what we want, it’s because we stop researching our options and treating our date as data to be mined, categorized, passed over or locked down.”
Reference: I Heart Intelligence