Have you noticed that today’s youth seems to be running away from commitment? They connect and start relationships extremely fast, but most of them avoid walking down the aisle. Statistics show that the percentage of married youth has decreased significantly from one generation to the next, as follows:
- Silent Generation (born between 1920 and 1940): 65%
- Baby Boomers (born between 1940 and 1960): 48%
- Generation X (born between 1960 and 1980): 36%
- Millennials (born between 1980 and 1997): 26%.
Why won’t today’s youth get married? The reasons are numerous and worth looking at, and we’ll review the most important of them in the following lines.
- Lack of a Solid Economic Foundation – During a Pew Research survey, 69% of the interviewed Millennials said the main reason preventing them to commit to their loved one was their low income and education. This response was more common in respondents with lower income and educational levels.
- Selfishness – Over half of the respondents to the above-mentioned survey confessed they found it difficult to put someone else’s needs above their own, especially after being raised to only worry about themselves. Today’s young generation is formed of self-sufficient individuals who do not need someone else to be happy.
- Wide Acceptance of Pre-Marital Sex – Couples no longer wait until marriage to have sex. If only 29% of young adults considered pre-marital sex “not wrong” in the 70s, their number grew to 58% by 2012. Nowadays youth seems to accept pre-marital sex, and appreciate casual sex, even with several partners.
- Sexual Inactivity – As unbelievable as it may sound, the Millennials have less sex than the generations preceding them. It could be due to the lack of partners, to the fact that many of them continue to live with their parents long after reaching adulthood, or to the numerous distractions competing for their attention.
5. Favoring More Options – Marriage reduces one’s partner options, whereas a 2016 study shows that people prefer to have more choices. If no one and nothing forces Millennials to choose, why would they voluntarily narrow down their options?
6. Taking Things Slow – The Scientific American cites Helen Fisher, Rutgers University biological anthropologist and Match.com chief scientific advisor and argues that today’s youth prefers to sleep around, know more people, and gain life and relationship experience before making commitments.’
7. Fear of Divorce – According to Statistic Brain, first marriages have a 10 years survival rate of only 6.6%. Otherwise put, only 1 in 15 Millennials getting married for the first time will have the same partner and marital status after 10 years.’
8. Lack of Trust – Although hard to believe, today’s young men and women are distrustful. They have no problem connecting with others online, but they don’t trust their dates. According to the Scientific American, 54% of online daters suspect their partners’ social media profiles feature false or fake information. According to Pew Research Center, only 19% of Millennials consider most people trustworthy.
9. Lack of Religious and Social Constraints – The previous generations cared more about religious and social constraints. According to Pew Research Center, this generation is more liberal. It does not rush to declare its belief in God, and it is not appalled by same-sex or interracial marriages, adultery, babies born outside wedlock, etc.’
10. Shallow Relationships – The relationships of many Millennials are a matter of convenience. The partners decide to live together in order to save money, get away from their parents, or simply because they don’t have better perspectives. They do not care about one another enough to take things to the next level, plan a wedding, and commit to making one another happy. At that time, being together is preferable to being alone, but no one cares what may happen later. The partners are “friends with benefits”.
What do the above reasons tell you? I believe the Millennials’ reaction towards commitment is the product of everything they witness and experience. By having access to technology and information unavailable to previous generations, they become aware of aspects their predecessors may have neglected. They are smart, and they want to be free and in control in all circumstances, from politics and economy to their personal life. They want to make sure they will never experience the suffering they have witnessed in others.
Will they succeed? Is running away from commitment a good strategy? I honestly doubt it. I believe all real, meaningful relationships require some form of commitment. They require time and energy. You invest those into a relationship that promises to lead somewhere, only for as long as the investment pays out. If you stop investing, you can never know what gains you are turning your back on.
It would be like building a house from scratch, but deciding to give it away for free and keep living in your rented condo, because you fear the troubles of moving, or you are worried you may not be able to cover maintenance costs. You never get to experience the comfort and warmth of the home you have been working on, and you have to live with that decision for the rest of your life.
Millennials may trade one relationship for another and trick themselves to believe they are in control. They may take pride in their casual adventures, in their ability of walking away. In the end, everything will work out against them, as they will lose the person they refuse to commit to, and wake up alone, with no one to share their achievements or fears with.
Commitments are not bad. On the contrary, they can be beneficial. They make life worth living. The trick is to assess the implications of every step, and only take it fully aware, convinced that it’s the right thing to do. Take it from a Millennial who found the power to commit 16 years ago, and has never regretted doing so! When things are right, your heart will tell you, but give yourself time and patience to listen to it!
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