I have an opinion on why there are so many single people now and why a lot of relationships fail– it might not be true but it makes sense to me. Divorce rates are way up, right? And the usual breakup rates, for that matter. According to trend analysis by Gallup, the percentage of singles (aged between 18 and 29) shot up by 12% (from 52% to 64%) just the past decade. Just 14% of young adults were living with a partner in 2014 and just 16% were married.
I think the ideals and standards people have set for themselves to be happy in love have become too high. I don’t mean you shouldn’t be happy in your relationship – because you should – but you can’t be ecstatic all the time.
There are a few reasons I believe this is happening – one of them is the portrayal of other peoples’ love on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. If you see a couple on Instagram or Facebook with the perfect light on them – smiling or kissing – you might think they are really happy all the time. You might not notice how many minutes a day you check your social media platforms, but for millions of young people this is at least an hourly thing. The repetition of seeing these perfect couples on social media creates a lasting idea in our heads of what a love relationship is going to be like. I think this is especially true in teenagers who are going to be the future young adults (methinks this will lead to that % dropping even further). The average western-world teenager spends major amounts of time on social media – sponging in the images that are being portrayed and aiming to give off perfect images of their own lives as well. The truth is that in any marriage or relationship it isn’t going to be happy all the time. In my marriage guidance textbook for psychology by Ann Petty, I read that the aim of marriage (or long term relationships) is just to be reasonably content. There will be instances of devastation. You won’t enjoy it the whole time. But loving someone – having a deep regard, care, and respect for another person, can bring you through the hard times.
The second thing I am noticing is that people are focusing a lot more on themselves. Focusing on yourself and your own happiness isn’t necessarily be a bad thing – but I really think it’s contributing to the failed relationships. When people break up, I often hear them say things like “I had to find myself first”. The strong sense of self is causing people to worry less about society’s opinions or the future and more about how they are feeling in the here and now. People focus on their own needs and wants and try to find people who fit with them instead of compromising.
The third and last thing I’ll mention is the idea of endless options that I see in a lot of people. If my girlfriend won’t cook for me: I can find someone who can. If my boyfriend won’t give me all his free time: I can find someone who can. This takes the focus away from the person you are involved with and puts it on you again. You see yourself as the centre and your partner as replicable. It’s fine if you break up because you can always find someone else that’ll make you happy, right? This kind of thinking leads to breaking up before you actually tried working on your relationship.
I believe people are too caught up in the idea of how things should be and how happy they should feel – and if you don’t feel happy with one love you will be luckier with the next love. Never in my life have I met a perfectly happy couple and I don’t think I ever will. Don’t lose hope, though – love is still real.