It is widely known that millennials have a very different outlook to their careers than the generations before them. They often career hop, looking for an area that fills their passion and makes them feel worthwhile, rather than stay in the same role for years and try to slowly climb an individual ladder. Many of them start their own businesses, not satisfied with what they find elsewhere and have a passionate interest in travel and creating never ending bucket lists. It made me wonder if we (as millennials) apply the same logic to relationships. I watched a video yesterday of a couple that had been together for 86 years who were discussing their marriage, I also spoke to my grandma who was married to my grandad for 50 years before he passed away. Both sets of couples met early in life and married fairly quickly ( by today’s standards anyway), and like so many other couples of their generation, made it work for a very long period of time.
It made me look at the way my friends and I view dating, relationships and marriage and try to spot the differences within the two generations. The most stark difference I noticed was the expectations millennials have of not just relationships but their partner. I can guarantee that when my grandma, or other women of her generation met their husbands they weren’t looking for a man who had a successful career, was intelligent, had an interest in travel, had a good family, was sociable, had lots of hobbies, was selfless and always put her first could talk for hours on end. Yet that is exactly what we expect, we look for a partner that ticks every single one of our boxes and disregard them if they don’t meet every one of our demands. The expectations have changed from those of meeting someone that you get along well enough with and you work to compromise on your differences and dislikes, someone that you tackle the hard times with even if they drag out over years, to a more on demand, quick to dispose generation where we pick up and drop people before you can say, ‘nexxxxt.’
We are more inclined to find someone that is the ‘finished’ product, and requires no hard work, rather than accepting people that are a ‘work in progress’ (aka all of us) and agreeing to work together to change and grow as a couple. Perhaps this reasoning gives rise to the declining number of marriages. An Urban Institute Report recorded that if the declining rate of marriages continues, more than 30% of millennial women will be single by the time they are 40 – which is twice as many as women from Generation X.
I believe this change in attitude has risen from our general change in society of having everything available, immediately, at the touch of our fingertips. From booking a holiday in 60 seconds, to ordering an Amazon parcel that arrives the next morning, to finding an endless list of potential dates at the swipe of a finger, we are growing more impatient and in need of immediate gratification and are slowly losing the desire to work harder for something, namely because we don’t need to.
Whist I’m also of the understanding that we shouldn’t ever settle in relationships, I’m certain that there is a balance between someone ticking enough of our boxes to make the effort involved to make a relationship last, worthwhile.
To my lovely readers – what are your thoughts?
In response to paragraph 2, regarding the previous expectations of women (as opposed to current expectations).
NOW (the National Organization of Women) has had a significant influence on American societal norms over the last 50 years. Not complete, of course, but significant, nonetheless. Who was their founder? Gloria Steinem (a Jewish woman who casted herself as Christian).
Steinem was never married and never had children. However, she did marry Christian Bale’s father when he was dying of cancer (and she was in her sixties). Did she really love him? Or was she looking for a payout? But I digress. At any rate…
How does an unmarried Jewish woman without children (and a hostile attitude toward men) become the spokesperson for a nation of Christian mothers and wives?
I agree with you analysis that technology has changed expectations. But I also think that some individuals (via education and the media) have been actively working to undermine the modern American family. I believe that Steinem is but one of many who do not have the best interest of the American woman (or man) in mind.
I don’t have too much knowledge on NOW, but their about us page states, ‘National Organization for Women is dedicated to its multi-issue and multi-strategy approach to women’s rights, and is the largest organization of feminist grassroots activists in the United States’ so it seems as though she is a spokeswoman for women in general and any issues they encounter -not just mothers and wives?
Thank you for the reply.
I was raised in a Jewish family. So my question would be, “Do you think that Jews share the same world view as Christians or Buddhists?” I think the answer is a rhetorical no. For example, Jews believe that male sexual pleasure (as well as female) is evil; therefore, they remove the male prepuce (foreskin) to desensitize the male genitalia. This reasoning was stated clearly by Maimodones, the greatest of all Jewish scholars. Clearly, religions such as Hinduism do not adhere to this – nor do Christians, as stated by Paul repeatedly in the New Testament.
I can tell you, from personal experience, that many Jewish people feel perpetually at odds with the larger Christian culture, and they consider it their duty to “fight back.”
So my thesis, if you’ll humor me, is that this “cultural duty to fight back” is the psychological underpinning for Steinem’s work. It’s not so much about fighting for Christian women, as it is about exacting revenge against them for “her people.” Thus, her fight for abortion is not really a fight for women’s rights, as much as it is an attempt to eradicate the Christian people.
Sounds grim I know, but it’s what my experience has taught me.
Yes I really do think that is the case, that we expect too much and if certain aspects of a person don’t meet our expectations we drop them like hot coals. I noticed this specially in American sitcoms; people don’t want to get into relationships because somebody’s ‘nose is too big’ or they hang out at a particular place, and although sitcoms are not good examples to go by, they are reflective (and exaggerative) of real life.
That’s a great example about sitcoms, I agree that they are reflective of real life and I think that to an extent, people watching those sitcoms will internalise what they see too.
‘internalise what they see too’ – absolutely!
Interesting thoughts on your post but one question is …how could you and your generation expect a finished product from your partner when you yourself are still evolving and not even close to a finished product? Please explain.
I think I am in the minority of my generation as I am happy to be with a work in progress ( as I fully understand that I am one myself!) as long as that person is WILLING to work on progressing. However, I think that for millenials that are of the mindset where they expect a finished product, they are perhaps under the (dis)illusion that they are the finish product themselves and therefore shouldn’t expect any less?
Agreed key word is disillusional
Love this….even tho I am lumped as a millennials by standard definition, as a near 32 year old I would say that a reason why I am still single is because I am still figuring myself out. I think that in our grandparents day it was nust a different social makeup. Women were primarily waiting to be married off and looked forward to the Stepford wife life. They had children, lots often, and remained in tact….even thru the myriad of challenges.
Today, many are ambitious to a fault and desire to have more independently before growing with someone else. Certainly as you grow in your experiences, worldview, educational attainment, and life you naturally want someone who is doing the same. I don’t see it as too much, but I do believe that we hold our expectations unfairly. I also think the dynamics of family and dating have changed. Many are comfortable with long term partners and commitment without marriage. And as we have opened our minds to inclusiveness with our LGTBI community, many have had to wait an incredibly long time to marry while others have no desire too.
Thank you for sharing this, you have an interesting view point and I completely agree that women’s own expectations of their lives have changed from a house wife to a woman that juggle a career and children and as a result, that may have affected the qualities that we look for in a partner and the expectations we have from them. It could be that in the past we looked primarily for someone that could be a breadwinner and provide for the house, whereas now we are more selective in the qualities we want.
Indeed! Thanks for such a great discussion!
I totally agree, we as a generation are more demanding and have higher expectations. The other thing is that even for married couples, the divorce rate is increasing most likely because we don’t have the patience and perseverance to work on our relationships. There’s also less stigma to divorces and single parents.
Exactly! There is a quote from an old couple that said, ‘ I’m from a generation where if someone was broken, we would fix it, not throw it away.’ and I think that is exactly what we are doing more so.
I wonder what role recognition of patriarchy has in relationship relations.
This is something I constantly talk about with my single friends – they want every single one of their needs met by one person as well as having expectations on who and how that person should be. Which to me is unrealistic and unattainable.
Personally my partner fulfils certain needs of mine, and my friends and family fulfil the others. I get bits and pieces from everyone who is important in my life because I think its unfair to put so much pressure on just one person to be everything for you.
Exactly – I think it’s very unrealistic to find that one person that will fulfil your every need, I personally think a partner should be able to fill the needs that you friends/family can’t. Plus if you put that much pressure on that one person, they are bound to fail at some point regardless of how much they try.
Unfortunately or fortunately, I fall in the category of a millenial. I think this generation is increasingly self centered and lazy. Self centered in the sense of “I want somebody in my life who will love me for me, support me, protect me, understand me…” Rarely do we think in terms of what we can do for others in a relationship. And that’s why we never fall for average guys who are still figuring themselves out but have a good heart, perhaps?
We want that finished product that can do something for us in terms of loving, caring, supporting, financing, maybe?
Lazy in the sense that we look for easy fixes to our relationship situations. Now I’m quite against online dating which I believe is another form of millenials being lazy in love and here’s why http://www.definitelylorna.wordpress.com/why-online-dating-is-another-form-of-being-in-love
Great post Giulia 🙂
Brilliant words Lorna- thank you for sharing and I couldn’t agree more. We disregard people that show signs of a good heart but need a helping hand or guidance to figure the rest out. And I agree that we don’t ever think about what we can provide to someone, or how we can better ourselves in a relationship to the same extent that we do in our partners. I will check out your post now 🙂
I see what you mean, I definitely think this generation is particularly self centered (I’m a millennial as well) but I think it’s caused for a variety of reasons. First off, with social media, it’s increasingly easier to gain access to communication with others. It’s easy to download an app or chat with someone, emotionally cheat online or meet up in person, and cover it up so your partner doesn’t know. With this awareness, I think people are a little more on edge about choosing a partner and tend to be more skeptical and suspicious of others. Also, I think we’re constantly overwhelmed with others’ thoughts and opinions on social media – many people express opinions relating to love and how relationships should be. “If your boyfriend doesn’t do A, B, and C, is he really a good boyfriend?” “My man did this for me” *bunch of pics with rose petals on the bed, teddy bears, etc.* I think millennials are completely overstimulated by thoughts and beliefs about how a relationship should be. Our focus is definitely on what others can do for US, because we’ve become obsessed with what COULD happen and what SHOULD happen to us when we’re in one. So yes, we are selfish and lazy, but maybe it’s not completely our faults??
Completely true! Couldn’t agree more with what you are saying! I definitely think we are always looking for the best best thing rather than focusing on how good what we currently have is . And the amount of people/comparisons/temptations available to us make it easier to as you say, emotionally cheat and cover it up very easily.
I couldn’t agree more – you totally nailed it on the head.
thank you very much 🙂
I agree with a lot this, I find from a mans perspective in general we are very disposable now. Women are equal and rightly so which has caused them to not need to find a man for anything as they can provide for themselves. My grandma and grandad were married for 50 years too and the role of traditional housewife and my grandad being the alpha male provider was very clear. I’m neither faulting traditional marriages or modern relationships I guess it’s just a change that we have to adapt to. Men have to become more valuable in such a competitive environment and women may need to have abit more patience Haha 😂
Glad you agree! 🙂 haha women definitely need to become more patient! That is a skill we are not very good at mastering (well on my part anyway).
YES! I find that the ability to pick up our phones and talk to multiple potential partners simultaneously damages the foundations of a stable relationship. If we think that a guy is not quite right for us, messenger, texting, snapchat and other methods of social networking give us the impression that the perfect man is out there who * just* has to be found. While giving us a false impression as an arbiter, our emotional wellbeing suffers.
Exactly! And that other people are so easily accessible, back in the day it was just via phone, now there a million more ways to find them!
Though I am not going to marry, but your post had forced me to think again ..
Well done ✌
And nicely written 👌✌
Thank you very much! That’s amazing that my post has made you think again, means a lot 🙂
Guilia, thank you for this. It really resonated with me, particularly the second to last paragraph starting,”I believe this change in attitude has risen from our general change in society of having everything available, immediately, at the touch of our fingertips.” I absolutely agree with you and find myself guilty of it. We demand a lot from a partner, which has much to do with how the reason for marriage has evolved. Have you heard this Ted Talk on desire? I think you’ll enjoy it: https://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_the_secret_to_desire_in_a_long_term_relationship
Thank you so much, I’m glad it did! 🙂 Exactly, I think we demand too much but almost don’t demand the same of ourselves. I haven’t listened to the ted talk but I will take a listen to it now. Thank you Colleen 🙂
Excellent post! I agree with you, and I don’t think it only applies to your generation either.
I totally agree with you. It can be so hard to maintain a quality relationship in todays media society as well. The way we view love seems to be placed with the unrealistic perception of “perfect relationships” we see on social media sites, daily. Thank you for sharing! Please check out my blog, i would love your feedback!
Thank you 🙂 of course! I will check out your blog now!
Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You’re welcome 🙂
I agree, although I am older than millenial ;). I had a list: he should be around the same age, career stage, educational level, own at least one home, etc (cuz that would match me!) However, I secretly wished someone would come along, ball up that list, throw it over his shoulder and say “I’m here.” And just consume me. And I got that! But it turned out he was a gigolo so I am going back to the list…
Oh my days! That sounds like a very interesting story.. have you written a blog post on it? I think everyone naturally will have some expectations of what they want in a partner, but hopefully one day when we find the right person all of our tick lists won’t be a priority!
Interesting blog. I think there a few differences. One is definitely what people were looking for back then. Women would marry looking for a man to have babies with and be a good provider. I know many people that have managed to stay married “forever: that were obviously not happy. My ex-mother in law is a great example. She has been treated terribly by her husband for almost sixty years but it is all she knows and that is what women do in her mind. I do think that today, too many people, men and women, look for perfect but perfect does not exist. It never will exist. In any relationship, there is give and take for it to last. No one is going to be happy 100% of the time. I also think it has become too accepted to be divorced. It is relatively easy to do now and, for the most part, is is not unusual for someone to be married multiple times. Serial monogamy is accepted in our culture now. I know my ex wasn’t willing to try and fix things. I know that love is a choice to a degree. In our 23 years, I did not always love or even like him but I chose to try and see the good in him and find reasons to love him again. It worked for me but he was unable to do the same for me.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I agree in what you say around women looking for different things in a partner now in comparison to back then. Marriage is definitely no longer seen as for life, infact I read that an alarming number of people only get married because they know that it is acceptable to get divorced if it doesn’t work out which is pretty sad!
I found myself agreeing with your points about wanting instant gratification while realizing I’m completely guilty of it myself. There have been many prospective dates I’ve turned down because the person doesn’t meet everything I want in a partner. Do you think it’s necessarily a bad thing to know what you want and not settle for less or do you think it’s about finding the one that you can help grow and have help growing yourself along the way?
I think there’s a balance between not settling for just anyone but also recognising traits in someone that you value. Perhaps they are not exactly where you would like a partner to be but they are actively striving towards bettering themselves. If you feel there are enough good qualities in them and in general you are happy, then I think you should give them a chance, nobody is perfect after all 🙂
So true, that’s why so many relationships only last 1-2 years! I really hope I can make my relationship last because I believe that love is a choice, not just a feeling.
Glad you agree! I’m sure you will 🙂
You make a great point. We, as women, tend to get so sucked into the idea of having a perfect man that we forget we are not perfect women. I struggled with this for a little while, and it wasn’t until I learned to create two lists that I found someone I could be happy with. You need to have a list of you deal breakers and then a list of your wants. My husband checked all the boxes for my required list and maybe half of my want list. But even if that’s all, I’m very happy with how things are and I choose to focus on those things he does do instead of what he doesn’t. Great piece, BTW!
Thank you! Glad you liked the piece 🙂 that’s a great idea to create two lists of non negotiables and negotiables! It’s great that your husband ticks all of your boxes 🙂
Thank you for all the insight! I agree perfection is hard to come by and we may pass up a few suitors but I think everyone has someone who is “perfect” for them. This means we may have to do away with our check lists and see others for who they are and can be. If you get a chance be sure to check out http://www.theagapecompany.com or theagapeco on Instagram.
That is a nice way to look at it 🙂 I will be sure to check out your blog!