1. We’re looking for relationships as though they’re something you order. We think that people are consumable, and connections are accomplishments. We only value what they appear to mean, not what they actually are.
2. We regard love as something you “have” not something you “experience.” Most people aren’t conscious of this fact, but they’re only desiring a relationship for what it will mean about them (that they’re worthy of love, for example) or what it will save them from. It’s a thing they get to use… not something they choose to experience.
3. We’re the generation of disconnect, ironically enough in the age of nothing but connection. We’re depressed and comparative and living our lives through images and screens. We can’t put our phones down long enough to focus on one conversation in its entirety… and we expect to build and develop meaningful relationships with the people with whom we have them in any kind of genuine way?
4. We think “meaning” is something we find, not something we create. It’s not something that just naturally exists, or that we must “find.” We decide what everything means, and if we pay close enough attention, we realize that everything means something, if we’re only open enough to learn from what our lives are reflecting back to us. It’s not an external experience. It’s an internal awareness and choice. Not something you stumble upon. Not something you find within the “ideal partner” or “dream job.” But rather what you choose to see in anything, wherever you’re at.
5. There’s simply no need to be emotionally vulnerable right off the bat. We don’t have to get married or start families or couple up by a certain age. It’s not a stiff social expectation or financial necessity anymore. So why put ourselves out there when we can procrastinate until the point at which it would actually matter?
6. Online dating is (unintentionally) reinforcing the idea that we should evaluate potential love based on appearances. And yes, even a brief overview of interests classifies as “appearance”… as those traits, or hobbies, or ideals they claim to have, are not the sum of who a person is, nor are they indicative of how well we could unknowingly be compatible with them, or fall in love anyway.
7. We have an apprehension about finding love while young, so we inadvertently keep ourselves from it. We do not understand the difference between “settling down prematurely” and “committing to the right person.” So we occupy our time with people we ultimately know aren’t right for us.
8. We’re more self-obsessed than ever, yet most of us have no idea who that “self” even is. We can’t know, and won’t know, who we’ll be in the context of a relationship if we aren’t acquainted with ourselves first. And we have no idea who we are. Not beyond the temporary titles and labels we choose and adopt for ourselves based on what we do and who we are for other people.
9. We’re the society that learned to edit their lives. We don’t have to accept our complexities and contradictions and genuine, non-glossy, unfiltered, real personhood… so there’s no chance of us accepting other people in that way either. Throw a filter on it and edit your status and only post the pretty, inspiring, society-ready friend-list-consumable moment of your existence and call it a life. We become fractions of people when we do this, ones who don’t hold the capacity to actually maintain a meaningful anything.
10. We’ve seen too much heartache to put ourselves on the line. In short: we’re scared. And we’re scared with good reason. We’ve seen generations of binding marriages and unhappy partnerships come crashing down and we don’t want that to be our stories too. We’re hopeful, but we’re skeptical. We’re not just going to risk it all.
11. We’re warier of how we’ll be judged not for the relationships we’re in, but how well other people would understand why we’re in them. Simply: we know that nowadays any relationship is open to endless, silent, unknown (but understood) scrutiny by untold numbers of your closest internet “friends.” We need it to look a certain way to save ourselves from feeling judged.
12. We’re obsessed with the joy of being shallow. And this is because, as a whole, we sense a severe lack of meaning in our own lives. So we find harmless, easy fun in focusing ourselves entirely on the ‘outside.’ When the only interests we know are essentially coping mechanisms, contact highs to relieve us from the dread of our existence, we have nothing to bond over, or material to create a meaningful relationship with.