As this year winds down and we prepare for the new year, it's the perfect time to reflect on our love lives in 2017, and also to think about what we want in our relationships in the coming year. Thanks to some eye-opening studies and surveys, we learned a lot about love and relationships in 2017, and — unlike almost everything else this year — it's actually mostly good news. Even if your romantic life didn't play out exactly the way you'd hoped this year, the one silver lining is that you still have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about finding love in 2018.
"Younger people tend to see relationships and dating in much more positive and idealistic terms," Jonathan Bennett, dating and relationship coach and owner of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. "However, older people, who might have endured years of dating frustrations or dysfunctional relationships, have a lot more cynicism (or according to them realism) about the whole process."
Although it seems like all we hear is how us young people are addicted to our dating apps, don't know how to make real connections, and have a phobia of commitment, all those stereotypes couldn't be further from the truth. Here are nine things we learned about love and relationships in 2017 that prove we're all really just a bunch of big softies looking for love.
1We Believe In Love At First Sight
According to data from Hinge IRL — an online magazine with advice and insight for modern daters from dating app Hinge — 50 percent of people surveyed said they believe in love at first sight. It might take more than one glance to form a real connection with someone (and another study from 2017 found that love at first sight is really lust), but it's still heartwarming to know that so many people believe love at first sight can happen.
2We're Addicted To Finding Love
As frustrating as it can be to try to find a relationship online, that hasn't stopped Millennials from trying: according to Match's 2017 Singles in America survey of over 5,000 people, Millennials are 125 percent more likely to admit they're addicted to the process of finding a relationship than other generations. Hey, we're nothing if not dedicated!
3We Think Being In Love Makes For Better Sex
According to the Match survey, Millennials are 40 percent more likely to believe that a strong emotional connection means better, hotter sex. And believe it or not, men are actually more into the idea than women: guys are 43 percent more likely to feel that sex helps to build a strong emotional connection.
4Men Fall In Love More Often Than Women
Rom-coms might condition us all to believe that women are the ones who are more likely to fall head over heels in love, but that actually couldn't be further from the truth. According to the Match survey, men have fallen in love 3.3 times on average, compared to just 2.3 times for women on average.
5We're Most Likely To Find Love At A Bar
Are we obsessed with using dating apps? Maybe, but that doesn't mean we're unable to meet someone IRL, too. According to the Match survey, 64 percent of Millennials said they find the most success when flirting at a bar, followed by 43 percent who prefer flirting at a laundromat, and 42 percent who like to get their flirt on at the gym.
6We Love Simple Romantic Gestures
When it comes to romantic gestures, it's the little things that make the most impact. For 87 percent of Millennials surveyed by Match, the number one indicator of commitment and love from a partner is if they take care of you while you're sick. Other romantic gestures we appreciate? Your partner mentioning you to their friends, going on vacation together, and attending a family outing as a couple.
7Love Can Ease Our Pain
If you're lucky enough to already have a partner that you're madly in love with, here's some good news for you: a touch from someone you love might actually be able to ease your pain. A study from the University of Colorado Boulder found that, when inflicting a small amount of pain on a woman while she was holding her partner's hand, the couples' breathing and heart rates synced up and the woman actually reported feeling less pain. So yeah, that's pretty much proof that love has the power to heal all wounds.
8We Look To Our Parents For Love Guidance
If you're anything like me, you call your mom at least three times a week to ask for help or advice — and yes, that sometimes includes advice about relationships. According to a study of 2,000 Millennials from Harvard University, 70 percent of people said they wished they had more guidance from their parents about matters of the heart. So even though Millennials might seem independent, we aren't too proud to ask for advice on finding (and staying in) love.
9We Don't Want To Be Single
Perhaps the most optimism-inducing thing surveys uncovered about love in 2017? That deep down, most Millennials really don't want to be single. A survey of over 2,000 American adults by YouGov found that only 24 percent of Millennials are interested in staying single — meaning that most of are actually looking for love.
So even though it might be tempting to wallow and lament the status of your love life, ultimately, there's a lot to look forward to if you're single as the New Year approaches. As long as you take the time to think about what you really want in a relationship and date in a way that feels true to who you are, once 2018 rolls around, you'll find what you're looking for.