In the hook up culture of today’s millennial generation, there is an abundance of apps that make causal encounters easier than ever before, including Tinder, Bumble and Happ’n to name a few, but in a world where one night stands are a mere click away and sex is pretty much readily available, the flip side is an generation who value monogamy and fidelity more than ever.
When it comes to committed relationships, there’s a higher than ever before value on exclusivity. Known to be more romantic than their Baby Boomer forefathers, the flip side to this, is that they also tend to be more fragile when it comes down to infidelity and how they react and handle it within these committed relationships.
Everyone nowadays says that they want the kind of love their Grandparents, or (older) parents have. The kind of love that sees couples still together in their eighties but is that really achievable for our generation?
As a millennial, my peers and I were brought up to believe that we can achieve anything! Dream it, you can achieve it! But that’s not true is it? And the realisation and actualisation of this non-existence romantic ideology, is what I believe to be a major factor in increased rates of anxiety and depression. The millennial generation were not taught the invaluable lesson that in order to have something of value, you must earn it, and this applies to not only relationships, but job and career satisfaction as well.
Brought up in an era and an age of entitlement, you can’t blame my generation for believing that the world is our oyster; after all, it’s what we were taught, but there’s a crucial missing link that the generations before of us know how to ascertain, and that is the value of patience and hard work.
While reflecting back on my childhood, I’ve always remembered both my grandparents and parents to be so in love, of which they were for the most part. But after discussion, all of them confirmed that in truth, their loves were not always such a pretty picture and their marriages endured hard times. They’d had plenty fights, sometimes fights so big, that a reconciliation seemed near impossible, but they always came out the other side. “Work” was the adjective tirelessly mentioned when they described their marriages, to me. I wondered if they were all to meet now, in my generation, would they survive…
In modern society, divorce is more acceptable and easier than ever before, with cheating ever more commonplace too, aided by the technology that surrounds us. The lines between infidelity have now blurred into a mass of grey areas – if texting someone is considered a form of cheating, then what is the stance on instagram DM’s and constant interaction via social media likes and replies? Or is that classified as flirting? There’s no definitive line, but for certain, cheating has no longer just become a physical act.
I put the following question to my friends, a mix of both girls and guys.
Q. What’s worse? If your other half were to go out, get blind drunk and have a one night stand with a guy/girl they didn’t even know? Or if they were constantly messaging and spending time with someone who they really, really liked, but with no actual physical contact – ‘an affair of the heart’ say?
It’s not surprising to me, that every girl said that they would find forgiving a one night stand easier than if he had been constantly engaging with a girl online that he liked and/or spending time with her.
Again, unsurprisingly, (because men are from Mars right?) said that in no way whatsoever, could they ever, ever, forgive a girl if she physically cheated on him with another man.
For girls, they fear losing ‘their man’; their provider. They feel threatened when a guy is spending time with another girl – God forbid she be an attractive one. Since girls bond by talking and sharing information with one another, a guy talking and sharing things with another girl is far more deceitful and hurtful that a one time sexual encounter, not that either options are appealing. A one night stand could be attested to a lapse of judgement or being intoxicated, but endless messaging and talking, well, that means something more special.
When I asked my guy friends to divulge the reasoning behind their logic, they all maintained (in pretty much the same terminology) that “it’s not because we ‘own’ girls, of course they’re not our property, but it’s the fact that they still kind of are ours… does that make sense?” It kind of doesn’t make sense to me, but they explained further. “If what I am giving her, is not enough, so much so that she has to go out and get it from another man, then that’s insulting my ego, and how can I walk down the street with her, knowing that she’s just given up what we worked hard to make, for some random who didn’t mean anything. It’s insulting and it’s mocking me.”
“The act of sex for a girl is much more intimate. Girls are all tucked up inside, (actual sentence used here, people) and having someone else inside my girl, is far worse than her just messaging a guy. If she promised not to text or see the guy anymore, then okay, sure. That’s far more forgiveable.”
It’s really interesting, especially because right now I am currently reading a book written by Chris Ryan, called “Sex at Dawn” on the psychology behind monogamous relationships. He argues that the sanctity of marriage, in the grand scheme of man-kind is a newly devised institution that only came around at the same time of agricultural farming. He implies that marriage was a contract devised as a means to wage ownership over the land, and to grow the farming workforce and subsequent wealth. (Having a wife to bear children, and the in-laws that come with, mean more people to work the land, right?). He says that while this contract states that monogamy is a rule, our ancestors and cave men* would have had multiple partners to satiate their hunger for mating, and that that’s why, marriages inevitably suffer problems; because deep down, both parties are bored since they were not instinctively designed only to mate with one partner for their entire lives.
If what Chris Ryan says is in fact true, then why are men automatically seen as the protector role? Why do they get mad if someone ‘takes their woman’. Surely, if marriage was just a contract, then the act of cheating, and all the emotions like guilt and heartbreak would not be quite so painful? And why then, are there little old couples who have been together for eighty years? It’s almost as though there’s a fundamental glitch in the human system. Two internal conflicts raging inside us.
My friend argues that everyone cheats. “It’s inevitable.” he sighed.
I’d like to argue that no, it isn’t inevitable. I think that the love you feel for another human being can genuinely surpass these spur of the moment temptations. If you really, really loved someone, is the endless guilt for brief moment of recklessness really worth it to sacrifice the promise you made to your relationship and everything you have shared?
I like to think that despite living in a generation where life is a constant stream of clicks and likes, that the reason my generation so highly values fidelity, is because we are still craving intimacy and dreams of growing old with a best friend. Because truth be told, there might be more options readily available to us, but despite someone keeping your bed warm for a night, it’s not necessarily the stuff that is warming our souls. At the root of the never-ending stream of dating apps, it’s a lonely existence, that my generation knows only too well.
One friend of mine (and they’re not the only one in my circle) admitted being sick of Tinder. “I go on it on a Sunday evening when I am bored. It’s fun for a little while. But then, I get a few matches, and the chat is exactly the same script. Where are you from, what do you do, how long you been in Dubai for? It’s boring. It’s so mundane and boring and even after a couple of days of messaging, I’m already bored and lost interest.”
And that’s the glitch there. In a society where acceptance of all genders, races, and sexualities, is higher than it’s ever been before, love and romance are definitely high on the agenda for us millennials. There really are loves like the ones I witnessed in my childhood. I promise that they aren’t the stuff of make believe. That’s the kind of thing I’m holding out for.
So caught up in the midst of a hook up culture – the despair of not knowing where we stand in another person’s life, the anxiety of not knowing wether or not the person will even read our messages or text us back, let alone wether or not they even ‘like’ us and so on, Commitment has now become the epitome of relationship goals. One pillar of millennial success! You finally found someone to cease the disheartening Tinder script and the endless swipes into the bleak world of internet nothingness. A real, living breathing, person. But that’s what makes the whole thing worth it. You know how depressing the dating world is out there, so don’t fuck it up yeah?
As always, let me know your thoughts on what you think, wether you’re a guy or a girl or an alien from another planet. All opinions welcome ❤
*he didn’t use that word, but I am going to because it sounds better than homo-sapiens or neanderthals or whatever…
PS. I’d like to just write that I am just voicing my own opinions and observations here on my blog, and that what I have wrote above is just wisdom from books, discussions and chats I’ve stumbled across. Also, I am not being paid to promote that Sex at Dawn book; but FYI Iggy Azzelea has it on her bookshelf, and it’s pretty interesting. It’s also a bit depressing depending on if you’re pro-monogamy or pro-polyamorous though and a bit of a heavy read…