Dating in your twenties
Are twentysomethings too selfish to commit?
Of course, not every twentysomething lies. This woman says her boyfriend, also 25, was loyal. But when we meet someone, how the hell are we supposed to know who is going to be a cheater and who is an actual good human being?
“I’ll meet someone at a bar and go on dates with him, but he could have a completely different lifestyle from what I know,” says a 23-year-old woman. And even those who would never cheat may have other things holding them back from commitment, like uncertainty about where their lives are headed.
“If I knew I’d be leaving Chicago when I graduate, I could approach this as just a time to have some fun and do whatever,” says a 27-year-old male grad student. “If I knew I was staying, I could be more on the lookout for something more serious. The way things are now, I’m kind of in limbo. [But] I’ve never been the type to be on the lookout for ‘the one.’ …I’m pretty sure there are a lot of girls out there that I could be happy with long-term.”
This bachelor finds women through friends, at parties, at bars, on dating sites—all meeting places typical of my generation. We’re also finding dates at work: 84 percent of employed people ages 18–29 would have a romantic relationship with a coworker, compared to just 36 percent of workers ages 30–45, according to a 2012 Workplace Options survey. The problem: Often, we rush into a situation where we hook up with someone for a month or so, have a falling out, do the same with someone new soon after, then come back to the same people over and over.
“[The hookup culture] is a nonthinking culture, in the sense that it’s always go go go, do do do without thinking about the consequences,” says Donna Freitas, author of upcoming book The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy. “It’s definitely a drunken culture. …In general, it’s not a culture that values other people or relationships. It tends to devalue partners. It teaches you to treat sexual encounters like they’re nothing, or to be apathetic about them.”
Emily, the former fiancée of my ex, agrees. “I keep dating the most selfish guys who think they’re doing me a favor by bringing me on a date,” she says. “Texting me ‘im here’ instead of coming to the door and making me feel uncomfortable the entire date because they are expecting so much from me after.”
It’s understandable that we would want someone to cozy up to and make us feel a little less alone. (Probably why my ex decided to spend New Year’s with me, since the proximity of my body was closer than his fiancée’s. It’s also probably why I once dated two friends at the same time.) But I, and the rest of my generation, need to remember that it’s easy to hurt others—and ourselves—while we’re making hasty decisions.
“There’s a danger in going from quick relationship to quick relationship,” says psychologist Anne Malec, managing partner of Symmetry Counseling, a therapists’ office in the Loop that offers couples counseling. “It’s fun, there are brain chemicals that are surging when one is infatuated with someone, but it’s not necessarily a healthy way to go through life. You’ll never give an emotional connection the chance to deepen if relationships aren’t given time. Being faithful is a choice.”
So at the very least, let’s choose to stop group texting at 4am.—Additional reporting by Marissa Conrad