Why Millennials Can't (Won't) Commit
Millennials are infamous for refusing to commit, even when their relationships are great. Why?
Nothing ever seems to be quite as painful as wanting a potential partner to commit, only to be met with excuses, awkward silences, or straight up rejection. As painful as it is, it's extremely common in the Millennial dating scene – and it's getting increasingly more common every single day.
Pew Research polls have concluded that the millennial generation is far less likely to marry than any other generation in modern history. Currently, only 26 percent of people aged 18 to 32 are married – a far cry from the 48 percent marker that the Baby Boomer generation had. Additionally, statistics also suggest that there will be more people in our generation to die single than ever before.
For those of us who want commitment, it sounds like a dating apocalypse. Many of us have even heard friends proclaim that "marriage is dead," or that dating "just isn't worth it" anymore.
Marriage can be one of the happiest, most beneficial aspects of a person's life. So, why are millennials so terrified of it? Studies show that it all boils down to a change in attitude... among other things.
Maybe it's because so many of our parents warned us about the evils that other people could be hiding, or perhaps it's because our society has become a paranoid wreck, but whatever the reason may be, millennials just don't trust other people. That distrust bleeds into every single aspect of our lives – especially when it comes to relationships.
The Pew Research Center had a long-standing study in which people are asked if they believe that the majority of other people are trustworthy. Only 19 percent of Millennials surveyed said they trusted most other people. For comparison, 31 percent of Gen X said the same – and they were the second lowest ranking on that survey.
In order for someone to feel comfortable with committing to a relationship, we have to feel like we can trust that person to do right by us. Clearly, millennials are so scared of being hurt in a bad breakup that they'd rather just close themselves off completely to the possibility of a committed relationship.
Millennials take a huge amount of caution when it comes to money, and it's easy to understand why. We grew up during one of the largest recessions in American history, and our generation also happens to have the largest amount of student debt in global history. To make matters worse, student debt also happens to be the only kind of debt that isn't expunged by filing bankruptcy.
Because of the economic problems they face, many millennials are worried that they will not be able to be financially comfortable enough to provide for a spouse. Many won't commit simply because they feel like they aren't going to be in a position where they can offer enough for a relationship or a family to grow.
Additionally, studies have also shown that millennials who come from low income families are also much less likely to want to commit, simply because they aren't sure that they'll have the resources to recover if the relationship ends in divorce or a major breakup.
Mr. Right Now
If you ask almost any millennial woman or man, you'll find out that one of the things they grew up on were Disney movies. We belong to a generation that was constantly told that there's "someone for everyone," and that, one day, someone spectacular and perfect in every way would sweep us off our feet.
This theme is something that's been featured in almost every children's movie of the past 50 years. Eventually, a large portion of us ended up internalizing that message. Unfortunately, there's a huge difference between what happens in reality and what happens in the pages of a Disney story book.
There's a huge chunk of millennials out there, both men and women, who have incredibly unrealistic expectations. Rather than settling for a living, breathing human being, they often will hold out for someone who's perfect.
People who have this issue often will keep long term relationships, but will never marry because they "don't know who else will come along." Or, if this weird Disney complex is really terrible, a person will leave the moment that a hard conversation has to happen. Sometimes, people will just "get bored" of a partner because the honeymoon period died out.
No matter how you cut it, this attitude will always lead to permanent singledom or serial monogamy. And, when you have so many people with this attitude, there's not much you can do about getting them to commit.
We want to have our cake and eat it, too.
If we were honest with ourselves, millennials do want the benefits of a relationship. We want to have the regular sex, the handholding, the good times, the emotional support, and maybe even the financial support. However, the bulk of Millennials out there don't want to put in the work to attain them.
We label the potential of loss in a relationship as "too much risk," and tend to try to push the line of what we can get, without ever having to sacrifice cash, care, or God forbid, freedom. And because of that fear of missing out, we end up losing everything in the long term.