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Why More Millennials Aren't In Relationships

Is it true that millennials and long-term relationships just don't mix? Here's why so many people in their 20s and 30s are in no hurry to settle down.

There is an obvious trend among millennials, to delay marriage and long-term relationships more than previous generations. There are plenty of theories about why a surprising number of individuals, currently in their 20s and 30s, are avoiding serious relationships. Some researchers blame a dependency on social media while others point to millennials' decreased need for commitment. Here are eight of the most popular explanations.

 


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High standards for SO: Where older generations felt rushed to find someone to share their life with, young adults are more likely to wait for a significant other who possesses all the qualities they really care about than to settle for less just to keep from being alone. According to Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker's book Premarital Sex in America, 94% of emerging adults insist on holding out for a "soul mate".

 


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Women are more self-sufficient: Up until the late 20th century marriage wasn't just desirable, it was almost seen as necessary, especially for women, who worried about financial security and were reluctant to be single parents. Although we're still waiting for widespread wage equality, women are making more money and have a better chance for advancement in their careers. So, younger people don't really view marriage or committed relationships as a necessity.

 


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Reliance on social media: Falling in love was challenging enough before the digital age, but now with so many people relying on dating apps to meet someone special, dating is more complicated and impersonal. In 2013, The New York Times questioned whether twentysomethings' tech dependence was leading to the "end of courtship". Others argue that sites like Tinder haven't really changed our attitudes toward dating, they just make it more convenient.

 


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Lower expectations of marriage: Considering how many people in their 20s and 30s were raised by divorced parents, it's not surprising that millennials tend to be cynical toward the institution of marriage. Painful memories of their parents' failed marriages is one of the things that leads the younger generation to seek out alternatives. But according to predictions by University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers, young adults who decide to get married now have a better chance of staying together.

 


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Perceived sexism in the relationship: Sexism within a romantic relationship, especially after marriage, used to be expected. Men and women had different and clearly defined roles. Sexist attitudes and expectations still exist in relationships, but the younger generation is less willing to conform to gender stereotypes. According to Invibe, "Marriage represents a patriarchal idea of a woman belonging to a man in some minds, making it quite undesirable."

 


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Other goals take precedence: Young adults today are very goal oriented and many of them want to make sure they accomplish some important personal and professional goals on their list before they're saddled with the responsibilities and sacrifices that come with a committed relationship. According to Premarital Sex in America, "Marriage now serves emerging adults other interests and plans, rather than the other way around."

 


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The new monogamy: While open relationships are nothing new, millennials seem to be embracing the idea more than their predecessors and inventing a lot of interesting variations on the concept. Rolling Stone reports the new monogamy is "a type of polyamory in which the goal is to have one long-standing relationship and a willingness to openly acknowledge that the long-standing relationship might not meet each partner's emotional and sexual needs for all time."

 


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Cultural change and the media: There is definitely less pressure from society to settle down and get married than there once was, with the stigma fading toward unmarried people over a certain age. TV shows and films have been reflecting the changing attitudes toward older singles for decades, but the shift has been more obvious in recent years. Invibed observes that "women who are divorced and single moms are positively portrayed in the media more often than in the seventies and eighties." Instead of being viewed as incomplete, today's singles often seem to have it all.

Jennifer Lafferty

Since catching the journalism bug in elementary school, when Jennifer started her own newspaper, she has worked for several publications including MORE. As a self-proclaimed movie junkie, she especially enjoys writing about film and celebrities. She has also written three books.

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