Our society has become a plethora of materialistic desire. We value materialistic wealth yet sacrifice our own well being – just to look the part. Through history and the exploitation of media, this materialistic desire has been reinforced and established. Millennials seem to have some peculiar love hate relationship with love and commitment in response to these changes. We’re unsure if we should view love as a beautiful, sacred, simple feeling or yet another materialistic item we can throw away or acquire depending on the week. Deep down many of us may want that happy family with the picket fence. So why does the vast majority of us end up with nothing but a huge bundle of baggage after our failed attempt? The short answer could be – we’re defining love through the materialistic events that love has been associated with.
We’re confused by previous Generations
In my experience the Baby Boomer and Generation X folks all seem to consider marriage and having a family as the gold standard. Settling down in a heterosexual relationship, buying a house, getting married, and having kids was the thing to do, and at a young age. And if you didn’t have these ideals in mind, you were considered abnormal.
In today’s ever changing world its much more common to see couples settling down and starting a family at an older age. Couples that decide against children are no longer as stigmatized. And the acceptance of homosexual couples has finally started to gain acceptance in our society. Personally, I view these generational changes as positive, especially in conjunction with outside societal changes. But in the mist of all these changes, while still having the influence of previous generations, millennials may feel lost in the shuffle of it all.
Our fast paced, needy, lifestyle has rendered love as a big question mark. We don’t know what to think of it anymore, what it means, how it comes to be, or how in the hell it lasts. Many times I see folks either scared to death to settle down or completely willy nilly rushing into it, only to have their heart broken. So what do we do? Attempt to define it through events such as engagement, marriage, moving in together, and/or having a child together – even through social media status changes. Which is only contributing to the problem.
Marriage as a label
In no way am I anti-marriage, or trying to come off as pessimistic when it comes to marriage. But in all actuality what does it really mean? Historically, marriage has revolutionized itself quite a bit, particularly in Western society. What was once, stimulated by religious principals is now based on whose changing their relationship status to “engaged” on Facebook. Believe it or not media plays a roll on the psychology of the modern young adults brain – the media now controls and defines many of our social standards and behaviors.
So what does marriage really mean nowadays? On paper, your taxes change a bit, you get a piece of paper stating your married, and between the two people thousands of dollars are spent on rings, the wedding, and the honeymoon. That sounds like many materialistic events that our society has classified as love, but doesn’t sound like actual love. Just because two people are married doesn’t mean they love each other. It doesn’t make either one of them less likely to cheat, lie, be deceitful, be abusive, and so on. Marriage shouldn’t define or create love between two people, but in our society many times it has become the easy fix to looking the part while faking the love. When people start faking the love part, marriage suddenly holds no meaning. We get scared and confused, yet we lock ourselves into still looking the part – pretty scary when we start believing it ourselves.
Majority of us are guilty of this, including myself- its not real life if its not Facebook official. Without any thought behind this social media norm we fall right into it. It seems cute, legit, and an easy way to show the world you and so and so are an item. Facebook has even started letting the whole world know when you and Johnny have been together a year, two years, and so on. You can let everyone know when you and Johnny get married or divorced and change your relationship status accordingly. When you start to think about these things, you start to question social media as more than just a social media site, but now a reality – kind of freaky.
When the relationship status goes up everyone is soooo happy for you both. The cute pictures appear and all of a sudden cutest couple ever! A few people may actually know you and Johnny on a personal level, through real life encounters, but many of them may have never met Johnny! Yet those same people are qualifying your relationship as perfect or meant to be. According to society these affirmations, although clearly artificial in actuality, gives your relationship some sort of validation or merit. It may even convince you that yes, this IS love! This is what I mean by materialistic love. And its getting us further confused, locking us into an artificial reality that may not even be cohesive with actuality, and getting us into trouble. Love isn’t built over Facebook or through the eyes of others, its built in reality between two people; where strictly those two people validate the partnership.
I would say the best solution to these issues are slowing down and letting relationships take their course, before jumping into things like having a child and getting married. There is no rush to do any of these things and everyone has their own pace. Its no longer settle down before your 20 or else you’ll end up alone, thankfully. You can get married, get divorced, have a child, with just about anyone – but again that doesn’t define love, and it doesn’t build a foundation for lasting love and happiness. Yet they can leave you with a broken heart, a ton of baggage, and a much different life than what you had intended.
So my advice to you – quit defining relationships and love through social media or relationship titles. Define it in your own crazy way that you couldn’t even come close to explaining through words. Learn to love your partner and be sure that along the way they are learning to love you too. Understand it won’t always be rainbows and butterflies; relationships are hard. But if you both can find simple natural happiness within one another there’s always promise for love in actuality – if you’re into that, of course.