Think Tank: Are Millennials Commitment-shy?

runawaybrideThe usual bar banter had transitioned to a serious chitchat on the subject of commitment.

In the background, an off-duty bartender belted out squeaky-tire noises. It was open mic night, and a very poor one indeed.

Opinions were split down the table.

On one side: a matter-of-fact late-20s woman in an open relationship with her boyfriend, a young man in a collared shirt who thought that the idea of marriage needed reform, and another early-30s man who didn’t think much of romantic dates and that if something were to ever happen, it would just, happen.

On the other side: a woman, the youngest of the bunch, was engaged to her best friend of four years, and a woman who played devil’s advocate and didn’t know what to think of it all. This last lady shot off the first statement:

“I think the idea of marriage is outdated. How do you know you’re going to be with one person for the rest of your life?”

The man in the collared shirt and the blasé man instantly agreed. The most that marriage, a legal not an amorous contract, offered was its tax benefits for both individuals. Not to mention citizenship if one happened to be a foreign resident.

Is 50-plus years with one person for the rest of your life even natural for human beings whose opinions of relationships evolve over time? It doesn’t seem to make sense in modern society to bind yourself legally to one relationship when it no longer, well, works.

The woman in an open relationship proffered that in fact, it was the courageous thing to do to leave a relationship when it no longer produced mutual happiness. Her parents had unnecessarily dragged on their relationship “for the sake of the kids” instead of doing the brave thing and parting ways amicably, she said.

The bride to-be countered: Isn’t quitting early in a relationship a little bit short-sighted?

Maybe it’s a missed opportunity for experiencing the kind of deep, sacrificial love that is only earned from enduring hardship together, from learning to forgive and putting aside selfish desires. She was the one who had always been in serious relationships, ever since she was 16. She was also a die-hard romantic.

We live in a generation where hookups are common and generally socially accepted by Millennials. Divorce is just as common.

So are we living in a fantasy that we can actually make a monogamous relationship last a lifetime? Is marriage still relevant to modern society? Perhaps the healthier attitude is to enjoy a relationship while it lasts in love, and then leave before hearts are further damaged.

Or, maybe young adults have become so tied to instant-gratification that they run from the slightest need for endurance or a bit of pain in a relationship – refusing to put aside their pride. Are we afraid of marriage because we’re afraid to truly be selfless with another person?

The conversation ended on a dour note. Feelings were not hurt, but an unanswered question hung in the air like suspended music notes.

Are Millennials commitment-shy?

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