How The Fear of Commitment is Making Millennials Lonely

How The Fear of Commitment is Making Millennials Lonely

Non-relationships, non-breakups, and hook up culture are getting us nowhere.

A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine went through a non-breakup. She wasn't in a relationship with the guy she had been seeing, but they had been "talking," if you will. It was a non-relationship that resulted in a non-breakup, but the pain and heartbreak she felt after were entirely real.

Our generation has started a culture of non-dating and stages of talking, where commitment is optional and relationships are fuzzy gray areas that are illegible, messy and confusing. We can't read into them, so we end up overanalyzing the little bit we know. Dating has turned into a hookup culture that is based on a series of games to determine who holds the control in the relationship.

The ideology has become such that whoever cares the least "wins."

We don't want to put a label on things. For a generation that is so advanced and open, commitment serves as one of our biggest fears. It's a combination of reducing the level of rejection and the liberty of having a quick escape route. No one wants to lose, no one wants to be rejected, no one wants to be stuck, no one wants to miss out on other options.

Yet no one wants to be alone.

The juxtaposition is stark. Why would anyone commit if they are already getting every benefit of being in a relationship with the additional liberty of having other options available? Why would they risk the embarrassment and awkwardness of being rejected if they can avoid it entirely? Instead, you hook up, you go out, and you assume there are no strings attached.

Unfortunately, there are always strings attached. Spending time with a person in this manner builds up your emotional ties. You may not see it as "love" but it's impossible to be immune to some feelings.

You can't avoid loving simply so you won't lose.

You can ignore feelings all you want, but refusing to identify them doesn't erase the fact that they exist. Then when one person confides in the other that they want something more and are instead rejected due to the commitment-phobia that is so pervasive in our generation, you end up with a sad, heartbroken individual who is suffering the very real effects of a non-breakup.

To get over the hurt caused by this one person, you go out to find a new distraction. We don't want to feel alone, so we settle for some half-hearted relationship for fulfillment. We distance ourselves from feeling what we do and ignoring the voice in our head that knows better. We build up more walls in the effort to not get hurt again but refuse to recognize we are hurting ourselves more in the long run. This perpetuates a cycle of hooking up, talking, and false intimacy. We close ourselves off and lose our ability to trust others a little more with each heartbreak we experience.

And in the midst of all this, we wonder why we still feel alone.

You have to let your walls down and allow yourself to be emotionally vulnerable. Hold yourself to the standards you desire and allow yourself to be alone for a while if that's what it takes. Happiness and fulfillment come from real relationships, where you are honest and open with each other about your feelings.

You might even find what you're missing out on.

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Meet Elise & Brandon, Swoon's Latest #RelationshipGoals Featured Couple

Everyone deserves a boyfriend like Brandon at the end of a long day.

Each week, Swoon features a couple that's deserving of being true #RelationshipGoals. If you or someone you know deserves to be featured, click here to nominate an amazing couple.


Elise & Brandon

How long they've been together:

9 months

How they met:

Elise: So we'd been working at the same restaurant job since January, without having worked a shift together until late April/early May. I knew of him, having attended two of his parties (without ever meeting him!) and hearing people mention "B-Fatt," "Brandino," and "Fatt." So we finally crossed paths with each other at work and I knew right away I wanted to get to know him.

We worked more shifts together and he got my number by asking me if I wanted to be added to the group chat we have at work originally known as "Sunday Funday," and he didn't reveal to me til later that he only did that to get my number. We started hanging out outside of work, hanging out by the pool, and going over to his house to watch soccer games and play video games.

It's so crazy that it took us so long to meet, but it was totally worth the wait. It wasn't until I spotted this funny looking Chinese-farmer hat in his bedroom that I realized that I had seen him DJ-ing at his party! Basically, we had seen each other before knowing one another. So shoutout to 4 Rivers Smokehouse for bringing us together and to our friend Austin for telling me I should go with him to Brandon's house to hang out. The man already knew we were meant to be.


What's the cutest thing about each other?

Elise: I'd say it's our ability to fit in with our surroundings. We're never uncomfortable in a new place, we really learn to blend in. So if we're in Disney, we're most likely skipping around and holding hands. If we're at a party, we feed off the vibe and mimic it pretty well. We just go really well together, like peanut butter and jelly.

Brandon: We subliminally try to coordinate our outfits.

What your favorite physical feature about each other?

Elise: Honestly, his eyes win me over every time. They're soulful, warm, and they show me what he's feeling on the inside. To him, they're just "turd-brown eyes," but to me, they're the warmest, most comforting coffee color I've ever seen.

Brandon: Easily her eyes! They are crystal olive green most of the time, and I just get lost. Every angle they shimmer a different way and always remind me of how drop dead gorgeous she is. Her eyes are so easy to gaze into and can always see her emotion in them, whether them squinting when I make her laugh, or they get all puppy-eyed when she needs sweets, or how fierce they become when she gets hot and bothered.

AND personality trait?

Elise: When it comes to his personality, it's got to be how much he really cares about me. I mean, he goes above and beyond for me all the time. I've never had someone love me like he loves me. He puts up with so much of my craziness but at the end of the day, I know I'm the one he wants to curl up in bed with. He's the most genuine, sweet, and kind individual I've ever known. I'm also in love with his music taste as well as his expansive knowledge on almost any topic. He's a walking Encyclopedia and iTunes Library.

Brandon: Her motherliness. Being Italian, the power of the family with a strong mother is extremely important to me. She is incredible—she knows when I am sick, knows when something is wrong, and always knows just what to say and do to get me back on my feet again. Not only for me but anyone she is close to.

What is your favorite memory of each other?

Elise: If I had to pick a top favorite, it'd have to be when he planned a trip to Sarasota to surprise me with a new car. He got in touch with my parents, who bought me a new car, and the three of them worked together to plan a trip for Brandon and me to go to Sarasota for a "beach day."

We walked into a restaurant to meet his "Uncle Chad Gallagher," only to run into my parents and my aunt and uncle. My parents handed me the keys to a brand new Kia Soul while I poured my eyes out. The best part was that my parents hadn't met Brandon yet, so for them to do something as crazy as this with a boy they'd never met—it was huge.

It just showed me how much Brandon cared about me, to go all these great lengths and keep the secret from me, and we'd only been dating for a few months. That will stick with me forever.

Brandon: During Christmas time when a group of friends went to go see the lights. A little park by use has a display set up that you can walk or drive through. Of course, we wanted the real experience, so we walked down the paths under the flickering array of colors, and she said something along the lines of “this is what I always pictured sharing the holidays with someone you love is like."

What's the most romantic thing you've done for one another?

Elise: When my first article for Odyssey was published, Brandon and I were visiting his family in Orlando. I remember crying and shaking and being so happy. Brandon was the one that encouraged me to apply to be a Content Creator, so I thanked him for pushing me to follow my dreams.

When we got back to Tallahassee, I had to go to work and was running late, so I left the house in a foul mood. When I came home that night, Brandon was dressed in a dress shirt and pants, wearing suspenders and nice shoes, and had a heart-shaped balloon, chocolates, and dinner on the stove for me. Burt Bacharach was playing on his record player (thank you Austin Powers!) and there was a red dress and a pair of heels laid out on the bed for me to wear. He had a warm bubble bath running, with candles and dimmed lights and a chilled glass of white wine waiting by the tub.

He had prepared this romantic evening for me as a congratulations for my first published article. I had to hold back the tears. His heart is so big and pure. That was probably the most romantic thing I've ever seen firsthand.

What do #RelationshipGoals mean to you?

Elise: It isn't the pictures you see on Twitter and Instagram of the lavish gifts or sporadic trips to exotic locations. #RelationshipGoals to me is when a couple is happy together both in the public eye and in private. It's when couples can overcome their issues and communicate, letting the other know that they can work through it. When I think of #RelationshipGoals, I think of a couple that works through any rough patches and always lets the other know that they are there for them, supporting them, and giving them as much love as possible.

Brandon: Relationship goals are the little things—a judgment free zone full of understanding and true companionship. It is living life just as you would single, only to a heightened state because your perfect partner is with you. It is the accompaniment of both of your likes, needs, and lifestyles. She knows how to make any situation better.

For instance, she always knows just when and where I want to be randomly scratched (and you know how the itch moves? She always knows where to follow it!), when we are with a group of friends and someone says something—we both give each other “the look”—and hanging out together in bed and doing our own thing and feeling comfortable.

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Poetry On Odyssey: When I Met You

A love worth fighting for?

When I met you, I thought to myself this is it.

I was new to the world of relationships and naive.

I wanted a love that lasts forever. A love that even Shakespeare would write about.

A love that makes the days a little brighter and the nights warmer.

When I met you, I thought to myself this is it.

My days were filled with laughter and smiles.

Every time I saw your name on my phone, my heart skipped a beat.

When I met you, I thought to myself this is it.

Each passing day I fell more and more into this fantasy.

I woke up with a smile on my face and fell asleep with a happy heart.

When I met you, I thought to myself this is it.

Your smile brought one to my lips and your laughter joy to my ears.

The thought of being together brought chills to my skin.

Then one day it ended.

The talks, the laughs, the smiles, the conversations.

You broke down my walls and won a place in my heart.

then one day it all stopped.

It was complete silence.

I never thought it would happen to us, but it did.

The idea of being one became foreign as the distance between us grew more and more.

The same walls were built up again, only this time each brick was filled with hurt and confusion.

You made me question if I did something wrong to push you away? Was it me?

How can someone tell you that they love you one day, but walk away the next?

My days were filled with darkness and questions. Everywhere I looked it reminded me of you

The same person that brought me joy now brought me sadness.

The day I met you, I thought to myself this is it.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Seth Reese on Unsplash

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