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It’s not true but it feels true.” So does “doomed to be single” just “feel true” or are there reasons beyond the statistics to worry?I think so and so do many Millennials out there —just take a look at Thought Catalog and other sites, if you can’t bear watching another moment of Lena Dunham —so the possible reasons are worth looking at. The Effect of the Hook-up Culture The disappearance of dating from teenage and college life and the ubiquity of the hook-up culture on college campuses means that many young adults have no experience with an intimate and committed relationship, much less practice in working things through with a romantic partner.According to their data, the vast majority of emerging adults —some 94% of them — want their partner to be, first and foremost, a “soul mate.” Regnerus and Uecker suggest that even though their parents’ marriages didn’t live up to these expectations (remember that almost half of Millennials are children of divorce), their own sense is that they should settle for nothing less.As they write, “…the bar for marriage is never lowered.These are skills learned over time and many young adults, with just a number of variations on the hook-up theme under their belts, find themselves sadly unequipped to sit down one-on-one with a potential partner and actually talk and find out whether, sexual attraction aside, the other person really is someone he or she wants to spend time with.It’s not just the lack of dating experience or casual sex that gets in the way; there’s a weird synergy between the hook-up culture and the dependence on digital communications.
Those of you old enough may remember the 1986 Newsweek story—finally retracted twenty years later—that declared that a woman over forty was more likely to be killed by a terrorist than get married and that a thirty-five year-old woman had only a 5% change of snagging a mate.
What Finkel calls the “evaluative mindset” might be good for buying a car or a couch or even a pair of shoes, but falls short when it comes to choosing a long-term partner.
Great Expectations It won’t come as a surprise that just as most Millennials expect that they will make meaningful contributions to society through their work, they have equally high standards and expectations when it comes to marriage, as Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker describe in their book, Premarital Sex in America.
The Problem of Meeting People Out of the bubble that is college and with the workplace off-limits —which is how many people in previous generations met—and the friend-of-a-friend thing full of potential conflict and drama, young adults end up meeting potential mates in bars, at concerts, and, of course, on-line.
And while there are on-line success stories, they are few and far between.