How Millennials Approach Relationships Differently Than Older Generations
As Millennials, half of us grew up with divorced parents. Access to technology — including dating apps that let us swipe right or left on pictures all day long — increased as we aged. But while growing up differently than our parents could have discouraged us from entering into relationships, it turns out, Millennials aren't the commitment-phobes many assume us to be. How we grew up actually may have made us even more motivated to find love. According to Match's 2017 Singles In America survey, we are 125 percent more likely to making a love connection work than older generations. We've grown up seeing where our parents' generation went wrong and how we create more open, successful relationships for ourselves. So it only makes sense that the way Millennials approach relationships is totally different than older generations.
Cleo Stiller, award-winning health correspondent and expert, believes that the shift comes in many forms. As the host of Fusion's new show, Sex.Right.Now. with Cleo Stiller, she tackles the questions everyone is wondering about body confidence, sex and relationships, health, period pain, and identity. She explores every aspect of women's lives while traveling across the country to get answers. As she talks to people, she is able to uncover what Millennials truly want out of a relationship — and how they intend to get it.
Here's how Millennials are approaching relationships differently than older generations, according to Stiller.
1. We Talk About Everything With Their Friends
Having friends you can share your life with is so important. A space where you can share what is going on, free from judgement, can be life-changing.
"Women talk to their friends about everything," Stiller tells Bustle. "Because often, when we were talking to people on the street, they were together and then they would look at each other like, 'oh my god, we were just talking about this last week.' So it does feel like we're tapping into something special. Your parents probably weren't even sharing the same things with their friends."
2. We're Open To Male Birth Control
While women have been taking birth control for decades, a pill for men is still not on the market. There are options in the works, however, such as Vasalgel, a reversible injection that will stop the flow of sperm. A pill has also been in the works but was halted after the side-effects of the male birth control pill were more extreme than anticipated. With these options on the horizon, it's important to know how willing men are to use them.
Stiller saw how older generations were not supportive of the idea. "When I first got out of college, nearly 10 years ago, I worked at a biotech hedge fund where all the deals that were coming through were looking at new developments in pharmaceuticals and biotech," says Stiller. "And a male birth control came through the desks of folks who were Generation X, at that time. They were all like, 'no way, I would not take this.' But then, when we went out [for the show], and we were talking to people who were mostly Millennials. Almost across the board, everyone we asked would've taken it. So there is a generational divide there. There is something that has shifted that has people more interested in an equal relationship."
3. We Understand The Appeal Of Non-Monogamy
Millennials have seen the tolls relationships can take and aren't necessarily sure if a traditional relationship is for them. "We are more open when it comes to relationships and breaking the rules than any generation before us," Stiller says. "We get married later and, because of that, and also because of divorce rates, right? Like half of us grew up with divorced parents. So, I think we don't have this fantasy of what marriage is supposed to be like. We are also a generation that kind of demands freedom. And the idea that a committed, monogamous relationship might not work for everyone makes sense for our generation."
In fact, there are many ways to use dating technology to test out if non-monogamy is right for you. "There are apps now where you can meet folks who are also interested in non-monogamy," Stiller says. "OkCupid even has an open relationship potential. This isn't going anywhere, I think it's just becoming more and more acceptable."
4. We Use Sex Toys To Stay Connected
Sex toys are increasingly becoming less taboo as more and more couples integrate them into their sex lives. That, along with innovations in products, has led to Millennials embracing sex toys.
"The people behind sex toys have created them to actually mold to the bodies needs," says Stiller. "So, I think when it comes to enjoying sex and pleasure, we have sex toys that are more intuitive. We have sex toys that can be connected to the internet. So, increasingly, we all move around. So, if you're in a long-distance relationship, or your partner travels for work, you can use [a sex toy] and you can be in one space and your partner can be in a hotel room and you can have a thoroughly sexually, intimate experience, which is really cool."
5. Our Phones Help (And Hurt) Our Relationships
As Millennials, we are constantly glued to our phones in pretty much every situation. I'll put my phone down and then immediately worry I'll be missing some interaction from my friends. While we may do this as a way to feel connected, it can sometimes lead to us being disconnected in real life, especially when spending time with our partner.
Phones can create a disconnect between you and your partner when one of you tries to initiate an intimate moment. "Say you're on your phones and you're with your partner. Your partner could be subtly flirting with you, could be subtly making a pass at you and, if you are on your phone, you will just straight up miss that advance all together. So you might go to bed thinking, wow we really haven't connected in awhile and they might be like, I made a thing and you didn't reciprocate," says Stiller.
On the other hand, your phone can also be used as a means to connect and communicate more effectively. "I'm always looking for apps that are going to maximize my relationship. Instead of apps that will teach you better sex tips or something, we found that what had helped people we spoke to the most was were apps, if you're in a relationship, apps that synced up your calendars, apps that synced up your daily chores, so you didn't have to communicate to someone about them," says Stiller. "Because, what hurts relationships in the long run, is the monotony of fighting over your everyday stuff and actually, if you can just use your phone to make it that you're both on the same page, that will take away a lot of the stress." It's all about figuring out how technology can help instead of hurt you.
There is not one way a relationship should be, and Millennials are allowing themselves to define what it means for them. The idea is to enjoy and be happy in your relationship, however you want it to be.