I am often awed by how differently I see dating to how my parents view it. In just one generation, so much has changed! Millennials are dating in a time of disrupted family structures (no wonder they too often think that divorce is inevitable), ever-changing social media (a Facebook message shouldn’t replace a phone call), and relationships that are much more vaguely defined (are we like, just watching a movie, or is this a date?).
But according to Ty Tashiro, who interviewed many a young person for his new book The Science of Happily Ever After, millennials are finding some decent ways of navigating the waters (as he points out in his recent Time article). I’m sharing his five main points below – I think they make great dating tips but I don’t necessarily love his take on them, so I’ve made them my own:
Be clear about your goal. It’s has been said that if you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. Young people need to know what they are looking for in a partner, and how they deserve to be treated. If not, it becomes all about the feelings rather than the will – which will mean a higher likelihood of the relationship ending.
Be smart. Tashiro says this means that millennials are letting go of fairytale notions of happily-ever-after relationships. I agree, but not in the way that he suggests (being more open to relationship failure). I think letting go of fairytale notions is about realizing that a relationship is not just warm fuzzy feelings, but hard work and commitment (that is worth it since it leaves you happier).
Find undervalued traits. Yes! The right person does not have to be ridiculously good-looking with perfect dress sense, utterly charming every hour of the day, intelligent to the likes of Einstein, earning money enough to fly you away in his private jet, and also hilariously funny on the side. Singles should look for someone they love to be with, who has similar values, is kind and generous, and treats them well…It’s those kinds of things that matter in the long run.
Take action. There’s no doubt that millennials think about the dating process. As my mum likes to remind me, they probably overthink it. But sometimes they don’t follow through with their actions, and that’s where they get burnt.
Keep the faith. Tashiro points out that while millennials may be dissatisfied with the state of dating and relationships, they’re not giving up. This is important – both recognising that finding someone to spend your life with is going to take time; and being strong enough to not give into fear and settle for someone who might not treat them as well as they deserve.