If you are one of the many young single adults in this current age, then you know the woe that is the millennial dating landscape.
Statistics show millennials aren’t dating seriously, much less getting married. They have a casual sense of dating and experimentation, as well as a positive outlook on divorce as an option. With outlooks like these, why is the dating scene so dead? A glance at the online millennial community tells us why.
Social Media Focus
Over 90% of millennials are on some social media platform. It is an era of self-focus and letting the world know more about their personal lives. They post about anything and everything about their lives, including their exploration of the dating scene. They want some form of intimacy but aren’t really showing an interest in sexual intimacy.
Although millennials have a casual outlook on sex, they don’t like it when they are directly approached about it over dating sites. Social media platforms now have sections about Tinder Horror Stories and Online Dating Nightmares, where users post screenshots of people who have made awkward sexual advances towards them. More pointedly, the emerging conventions of digital communication have left many young people socially inept – unable to initiate or sustain meaningful conversations with their peers.
Fear of Divorce
Divorce has skyrocketed in most western countries, and millennials have been hit the hardest by the devastating impact of the breakup of families. This has left many millennials gun-shy about forming relationships, either believing they are destined for the pain and heartache of eventual divorce, or else becoming extremely choosy about who they choose to pursue.
One characteristic of millennials is a rejection of formal settings. Young daters appear to prefer casual, relaxed, authentic experiences in low-stakes situations. The concept of the “date” has almost entirely been replaced by video games and Netflix binges in the living room of the apartment. While this in and of itself may not be harmful, if the relationship never moves out of a “hanging out” phase into a more serious “courtship” phase, emotional connections and expectations of commitment may be stunted.
Many millennial relationships are caught in this limbo between the friend zone and the relationship zone, not because a lack of attraction but because of a failure of the relationship to mature.
Many young adults prefer casual sex over intimate dating relationships. They aren’t looking to date in a serious manner. Since millennials are one of the most diverse and social issues aware, gender roles and sexual expectations have shifted. In days of yore, sexual encounters between unmarried couples were considered shameful. In more recent times, that shame became unfairly focused on the female participants. Society has largely rejected this double-standard, but rather than reverting to the age of sexual restraint, casual sex without the implication of commitment is now commonplace. There is a multiplicity of opinions on the moral implications of this shift, but in practice we are seeing an increase of out-of-wedlock births, absentee parents, and the resulting advance of poverty.
More couples are meeting online through dating apps and sites. With platforms that make it easy for young adults to mingle, meet, and explore the dating scene, you would think dating would be booming. It’s definitely not. It has been almost beaten dead by casual hookup seekers and ghosting. Ghosting is the act of just disappearing half way through a conversation with someone.
Millennials find it easier to just ghost someone rather than go through the trouble of confronting them about troublesome dating. Over 80% of millennials have been ghosted and studies show that people who have been ghosted are more likely to be ghosters themselves. Traditional methods of breaking up with someone face-to-face have been replaced with simply ghosting out of a relationship. Coasting through the dating world is easier because they hold no social obligations online.
Millennials have expressed the same desire for intimate human connection as any previous generation, but the breakdown of a common dating language has left their generation socially deaf, dumb, and blind. Their parents’ dating conventions may seem old-fashioned and even mildly sexist to today’s teens and young adults, but at least they had the added advantage of bringing all participants onto the same page regarding expectations and do’s and don’ts. Perhaps the solution to declining marriage and family rates in the younger generation involves looking to our recent past for a common mode of emotional communication, since we no longer seem to have a worthy substitute.
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