In the past year or so, I have seen about a thousand articles about how Millennial hookup culture is the death of romance because we're all too afraid to commit. Those articles make a lot of valid points. I absolutely agree that "playing the game" of who cares less is problematic at best and kills communication. But when these articles start decrying this as the death of romance and complaining that nobody knows how to date anymore, I have to question how true that is.
People know how to date. People know what romance is; they've all seen it in about a billion movies. They're choosing not to partake in it. And they're doing so because they're seeing other options. It's okay to want to explore your options. It's okay to spend time with a lot of different people. Maybe it makes sense not to commit to one and cut off connections with others. I just wish we would say this out loud instead of being silenced by the fear of hurting each other.
I genuinely believe that's where this communication deficiency comes from. We (members of the generation of political correctness) don't want to hurt or offend each other! And telling a person you're not interested in a romantic commitment to them seems too obviously mean. We don't want to think of ourselves that way, and we don't want to be thought of as bad people. So maybe the problem isn't that people are unwilling to commit to relationships, but that they are afraid to say that they are. Better to be honest about not wanting a commitment than to get stuck in a relationship you don't want. That's how cheating happens. And I think we can all agree that cheating is bad.
Here's the thing about fear of commitment: it's real. It's a completely real thing. But it's not just applicable to monogamous relationships. You can also be afraid of committing to a healthy lifestyle, to a sexual orientation label, to a major. When we talk about "fear of commitment" as a rationale for a person not pursuing a serious, romantically and sexually exclusive relationship, we are denying that it's possible to simply not want one. Fear and disinterest are two different things, and in the cases of a lot of twentysomething Millennials, I think not committing is a healthy choice.
Being alone can be good for you. Casual dating and casual sex can be good for you. Monogamous relationships can be good for you. Open and polyamorous relationships can be good for you. That's because all of these things lead to a better understanding of yourself, and that's what being in your twenties is all about.
So are Millennials wrecking relationships, or are we redefining them on our own terms? I'd like to think it's the latter. But truthfully, it all comes down to communication, or lack thereof. After all, you can't redefine something if you're not willing to speak its new definition out loud.