Is it Careless to Care Less?: Inside the Mind of Millennial Lovers
“Opened 3 min ago.” I stare at the tiny screen hoping that my eyes are deceiving me. Did he really leave me on read? How could he not respond? Did I do something wrong? Was there something in my teeth? Does my hair really look that bad? I continuously question my entire being. I know how unhealthy it is, I know I’m probably overthinking everything, but I can’t stop.
I wait another minute to see if he responds. Still nothing. What can I do? Is there anything I can do to change this? Would he be weirded out if I said something about being ignored?
No, I can’t come across as crazy or desparate.
I want him to think I don’t care, even though I do. Suddenly I realize that I’ve been thinking about him for way too long. Here we go again. I’m mad, but I’m oddly drawn to my anger. I like the chase, I remind myself how boring my love life would be if I didn’t go after what I want, if he made it easy.
Why would I want something that to most would seem extremely undesirable? It’s something that many millennials like myself experience, we search for the answers as to why the person we like doesn’t respond when they seemed so interested in us just minutes before. We let it consume us, ruin our day, maybe our week. We are stuck in this state of limbo, between wanting to care, and not. We act like the ignorance doesn’t bother us even when it does, just to seem cool or “chill”. We all make excuses as to why we aren’t ready to care, or show that we do.
There are so many unanswered questions that arise when we put ourselves in a place of vulnerability. We are afraid of this unknown and stick to the comfort of what we know.
It seems that the chase is what is desirable, but it’s making it harder and harder for millennials to become engaged in meaningful relationships.
It’s proven that millennials are less likely to engage in actual relationships compared to older generations. A Pew Report from 2018 shows that only 46 percent of millennials are currently married between the ages of 25 and 37. This is compared to the silent generation born between 1928 and 1945, 83 percent of which were married between the ages of 25 and 37. There is only a mere 70 year gap between the two generations. (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/essay/millennial-life-how-young-adulthood-today-compares-with-prior-generations/)
Henre Hermanowski, A senior at the University of Vermont started seeing a man at the beginning of his sophomore year. Everything started off fine, he was beginning to explore his sexuality. It began as a casual affair.
However, a few months into the relationship Hermanowski began to doubt how serious his partner really was about the nature of their relationship. Hermanowski could feel his partner beginning to care less and less about the state of their relationship and wondered if his partner saw the relationship progressing past it’s current state.
As his partner continued to draw back, Hermanowski said that he felt the need to act like he didn’t care where the relationship went either, even though he was extremely interested in his partner and wanted to see the relationship progress .
He knew his partner wasn’t sharing his full set of emotions but his partner could not bring himself to say how he really felt.
Although his partner was showing disinterest, Hermanowski still had feelings for him and stated that he felt more and more attracted to him, and he couldn’t explain why.
Hermanowski could see and feel the potential but didn’t want to assume how his partner felt.
Eventually his partner expressed to him that he was not interested in the relationship progressing any further past its current state, he gave many excuses as to why he wasn’t ready, and why he didn’t see it getting more serious. Hermanowski promptly ended the affair.
Even though Hermanowski wanted to see the relationship through, he knew that his partner was not ready to express his full set of emotions. When asked how he would explain why he thinks millennials are still attracted to their partners even when they showed a low level of commitment he responded by saying, “No matter which person you are, it’s obvious in these situations that the other person feels something, or else it wouldn’t be an issue.”
Maybe that is the underlying problem. We hold on because we expect it to go somewhere, but we are too afraid to express how we really feel. This could be due to the nature of how our generation communicates, many of our conversations occur online, and our generation is the most apt to use dating sites such as tinder and bumble to try to create meaningful connections with one another.
Dating sites, as well as other forms of social media open up a world of possibilities and options to millenials. It makes finding the “one” even more challenging for us, if not impossible.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Study, 27 percent of millennials aged 18-24 use online dating apps, and this is the highest percentage compared to all other age groups. The millennial dating pool is large and vast. (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/01/teens-technology-and-romantic-relationships/)
We as millenials allow ourselves to be open to what could be, in the search for the perfect “soulmate”. We talk strictly through text and have lost the non verbal communication cues, we once acquired in order to express ourselves and our emotions fully. If we’re exposed to someone “better” it’s easy to swipe left on the person we once thought we had romantic feelings for.
This is a valid reason as to why millennials are less likely to commit, the options and the ability to make excuses against settling down is the main reason why we just aren’t.
Alyssa Smith a junior attending the University of Vermont met John (names both changed for privacy reasons) at a party her sophomore year. They were introduced through mutual friends and immediately hit it off.
Soon the two began hooking up consistently, meeting up after parties and when it was convenient for the both of them.
However, neither of them fully committed to one another, and did not specify exclusivity within their relationship.
Most of the time Smith felt that John did not care about her, even though she had feelings for him. She was drawn to how elusive he was about the nature of their relationship, even if it had negative effects on her mental health.
Smith held out. She wanted something more, but was unsure whether or not John saw their relationship progressing. She often felt that social media added stress to their pseudo relationship. She would see John liking other girls pictures and posting pictures with other girls.
Smith expressed how even though she got upset, her anger drove her even closer to him. She couldn’t explain why, she felt trapped in a game but felt that the reward would be worth the pain.
So she stuck around. For a year to be exact. Constantly stuck in this state between wanting to care and not. Until one day John asked,
“Do you want to be my girlfriend?”
This is part of the appeal, holding out for what “could be”. You could look at Alyssa Smith and Johns story as a successful one, or you could see it as a catalyst. A story that needed to be shared in order to show us that our generation has a serious problem at expressing our compassion toward one another. Even when we truly feel it.
There is no need to put up barriers. The only way to fix it to put down our phones and talk to one another. Look up and tell the people we care about that we do in fact care about them. Although Smith and John ended up right where they wanted to be, many millennials don’t in the effort to show that they care less.