Hi, I’m Panther from the Urban Panther’s Lair and I was so thrilled when Annie asked me to come on over to be a guest blogger, I foolishly gave her the opportunity to pick the topic. I even gave her carte blanche to make it challenging. Well, you know our Annie, she put on her thinking cap and came back with a doozie!
Do you feel that modern relationships (the 20-somethings) are fundamentally different when you and I were in that age group?
Well, I was 20-something, about, um, 20-something years ago. And I have three children who are 20-somethings. While this doesn’t make me an expert, it certainly means I can have a heck of a lot of fun extemporizing on this topic!
In my children, and their friends, I have observed three major differences on their approach to relationships from how my friends and I approached them at the same age.
I dated my boyfriend for six months, got engaged, and was married within a year. I was doing a scan of my friends from that time period, and stories I have heard from other people my age, and this rapid romance seems to have been quite common. We were certainly all married before our 23rd birthdays. My children, and their friends, are taking a much more cautious approach. D1 dated her boyfriend for four years before she moved in with him. She’s 23 and he’s 27. D2 has been dating her boyfriend for almost a year, most of that at a distance because they were in universities over three hours away from each other. In the Fall, she’ll be heading to another university over an hour away, and then heading off to Europe to do a placement in a museum. Their friends also seem to be taking time before moving in with their boyfriend or girlfriend. And marriage? Add another year, or two, or three, of living together before that is even a consideration.
When my friends and I were dating, if we broke up, we broke up. Maybe one ‘second chance’ but that’s it; NEXT! What I have found fascinating is the willingness, mainly on the part of the young women, to wait it out. In what I think is pretty typical fashion, the young males panic when they start to ‘get too close’ to their girlfriends, and hit the highway at a run. Then they realize they actually miss their girlfriends and come back. This Panic, Run, Return pattern repeats itself several times. Sometimes, children are even created during the Return stage, triggering yet another Run. The young women aren’t sitting around pining for their man, and do carry on, but they open up their hearts and homes during the Return stage. Eventually, the young men deal with their fears and commit themselves to the relationship.
3. Screw the man
No, not that way! I mean screw The Man. For the most part, we were chasing the all mighty dollar. Long work hours, training courses at night, volunteer hours to build contacts, etc, etc. We were always seeking the next promotion. This meant time away from our loved ones. Not my kids and their friends. Yes, they are getting an education, and yes they want to live comfortably, but when they leave work, they leave work. They are willing to live on less materially, in order to enjoy each other, their friends, and eventually their kids.
So, why the above three differences? This is where I am totally taking a wild guess, but here’s my theory. Caution…heck, I’m on my third long term relationship. My kids lived through my first two, which weren’t all that pleasant. Especially the second one. No wonder they are taking time to really get to know their partners. Sticking it out? I was divorced by the time I was 28. Most of my friends and acquaintances were divorced by 30. These kids are working out their differences and growing into each other first. And if that means times apart from each other for personal growth, so be it. Screw The Man? I am sure a lot of the 20-somethings of today grew up watching one or both parents giving their all to work, only to have the plug yanked unexpectedly after 20 or 30 years of dedicated service. Missed dinners, missed school concerts, missed bedtime stories? Not what these young people want for themselves and their families.
Despite the difference in approach to building relationships, I know my kids want the same thing that I want. To live happy, fulfilled lives, with someone who loves and respects them. And I believe, while the initial stage seems slow, they actually stand a better chance of finding that person faster than I did.
(Woo-hoo, Panther, you really rose to the challenge here and wrote a great and insightful post. Bravo!)