The hookup culture has been on the rise for the past several years, as more millennials come into adulthood. However, now it seems to be threatening the most basic form of commitment — the relationship.
While many might’ve thought hooking up was just a passing young adult phase, like belly button piercings or drinking Red Bull and vodka to stay up all night, experts are saying it could be here to stay. Relationships and emotional commitments may simply be too much to expect from the “want it right now” generation.
It’s not entirely their fault, though. Many grew up in a world where technology made everything too accessible. They can maintain friendships with old camp friends living halfway across the world just as easily as they can order Chinese food at 1 a.m. via an online app. And now that dating has been similarly technologically streamlined, arranging for a late-night, no-fuss rendezvous is no different.
As a result, the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” have become almost as rare as “fiancée” and “spouse” in this generation pool. You might think it’s commitment phobia, but I think it has more to do with lack of interest in commitment, because the other side of the coin is more desirable, at least for now. A major personality aspect of millennials overall is that they’re always jumping from thing to thing, so the idea of being tied down to one person might feel limiting. Things move so fast now that stopping to commit might start to look like a big roadblock. In light of that, it makes sense why this casual noncommitment seems like their best option.
Recent statistics are backing up this trend toward keeping it casual. According to recent data recorded by Gallup, only 16 percent of people ages 18 to 29 were married in 2014, and only 14 percent were living with their significant other. That means the majority of millennials are choosing to live the single or undefined relationship life. They’re simply not feeling the pull to nail down a life partner and start a family yet, because their lives are busy enough, and who has time for all that these days?
There’s certainly nothing wrong with keeping it casual if you’re not ready to commit and you enjoy dating around. However, shouldn’t we worry about how many of these millennials are saying they’re cool with just “hanging out” because they want to fit in with their generational trend?
Jordana Narin said it succinctly when she wrote about her own experience traversing through this noncommittal, label-less land of millennial dating. “We aren’t supposed to want anything serious; not now, anyway. But a void is created when we refrain from telling it like it is, from allowing ourselves to feel how we feel. And in that unoccupied space, we’re dangerously free to create our own realities. Women today have more power. We don’t crave attachment to just one man. We keep our options open. We’re in control.”
And therein lies a major issue — women are feeling like they have to give in to this “cool girl,” casual dating lifestyle, because it allows them to remain competitive on other planes with men. However, it’s apparent that many women (and probably men too) are hiding a longing for something deeper but feel they can’t express it because it’s “too much to ask for.”
Not using labels to define a relationship may sound freeing, but the lack of definition is leaving these poor creatures floating from one non-thing to another like lost souls in dating purgatory. That doesn’t sound easy or fun to me at all.