Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

Exclusively Non-Exclusive: Let’s Have Real Relationships Make a Comeback

“I don’t know… I’m just not really looking for a relationship right now”: the uncomfortable, disappointing stance most young people not currently in a relationship take. Us young people don’t wish for the requirements beyond doing what they desire as they have the urge to; relationships come with standards. Relationships also signify something a little longer term, a little more serious than just a continual, casual hookup, which terrifies us young people who just want to do whatever we want as the opportunity comes upon us. Well, I can understand us not looking for a relationship, but what then are we looking for? Because I’m sure we are not actually looking for the post-casual relationship feeling that comes after a pleasant hookup here and there with a friendship thrown into the mix. The main issue here is fear of commitment and relationship standards, and although youth comes with immaturity, this generation needs to grow up.

Relationships are scary, that’s universally understood. Trying to gauge whether or not a person is worth our time is not always black or white, which brings risks and what ifs either way but instead of still waiting a little longer to just see, our generation has decided to bypass the pesky contemplation and just claims relationships as the source of the problem. So, instead, there’s talking, exclusive, non-exclusive, friends with benefits, and, my favorite, the cringe-y lack of communication altogether. Now, there are actual relationships, of course, but my generation holds them at arm’s length for good reasons of not wanting the blame for heartbreak or being heartbroken. So, we have decided to go in the complete opposite direction settling on an unsatisfying, non-relationship label that brings with it, little to no real effort. The most important part is that the “relationship” is chill and never, never serious.

Relationships come with responsibilities and expectations, ones which we are not overly willing to comply with. Us young people have so many activities, school, and chilling to be done, who has time for the responsibility of another person who needs to be covered in affections, thoughtfulness, causes worry, stress, needs attention, love, requires loyalty, some level of devotion and, most importantly, time? Who has time for human connections that actually mean something? Actual meaningful relationships are not a top priority for our young people, it’s just too much altogether and most of us are interested in just getting together when convenient and hooking up, calling it meaningless and moving on, or continuing along with the same person, blurring the boundaries of what their relationship to each other is.

Fearing the theoretical chains we give ourselves by naming one and another each other’s has made my generation question “why do we do this when we can be chill instead?” And I guess chilling out does offer a fair share of benefits. Most have suffered the end of a break-up in which their heart is broken, but this overall nondescript relationship generation I live in prevents the heart breaker any real trouble since, technically, they did nothing wrong. How could that be possible to cheat if it was non-exclusive in the first place? Or often, it just ends and there is no definite break up. Or, just a loss of feelings of any kind that just ends with the uncomfortable unknown lingering in the back of our mind. No standards mean no legitimate expectations. No one wants to be blamed for heartbreak and this is the perfect “get out of jail free” card.

The problem for the other person, the heartbroken one, with this situation is hope. More often than not, one of the people in the relationship want something more but settles, for now, with something less serious, hoping the other person will eventually “come around”. This gives the other person time to consider and then maybe, hopefully, they will proclaim their love for the other and together, they will live happily ever after for the rest of their days. But, no. Often that doesn’t happen and when the person says “I’m not looking for a relationship” they mean it. No exceptions.

Both parties have unrealistic expectations for one another even though neither disclaim or are completely honest. One hoping they both actually don’t want anything more and have no real emotional attachment to the other and the other hoping that this phase will pass and it will turn into something more. There are some cases where people are on the same page and things do work out but that is the exception, not the rule. People don’t know what they want even when they believe they do. One might say that they aren’t looking for anything serious and mean it, but end up emotionally attached, on accident, and end up wanting something more. Or also thinking that one is interested in something more than a short fling but really, there might not be any chemistry between the two. People don’t really know what they want.

What is hard for me to understand is why now it is more acceptable to want a causal relationship rather than something more satisfying, traditional. There is no consistency or anything dependable about a relationship with indefinite boundaries and restraints. Yes, rules are confining, but how satisfying and relaxing it feels to know you and another are on the same page, in the same relationship, with basic rules on how to start and end one and how to maintain it. Being able to depend on someone being there to text, call, or be with in person at any point in the day is so much more calming than wondering if you’re coming on too strong by talking to a person all the time or talking not enough. Traditional relationships take the guessing out almost entirely compared to the chill relationships now.

Casual relationships promote this generation’s already too greedy instant gratitude and of course, it feels so sweet in the moment, but the uneasy emotions after come faster than we’d like to think. Traditional relationships promote communication and goals. They have suggested rules and create comfortable stability. They are a risk, I know, but how much more satisfying to say “yeah, we broke up” than “I don’t know it just kind of … ended?”Something is better than nothing, and I say it is worth the risk. Our generation is more concerned with the instant gratification rather than a greater reward that goes along with hard, long work. Our generation will hopefully get bored of this meaninglessness and move on to something greater because come on, aren’t we better than this?

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