Modern Young Adult Love -- What is it?

If you are a young adult who is confused about your romantic relationships—join the crowd. At one time or the other, almost everyone under twenty-eight feels either burned out, blown out, or just doesn’t care about love and serious romantic relationships. There are lots of reasons for this.

Young adult love is confusing because:

1. You Don’t Really Feel Like An Adult. In this globalized technocratic world, there are no standards to measure what it takes to become an adult. You might think it’s a college degree. Yet the job you get might not pay enough to get you out of having three roommates and riding the bus on Friday nights. How can you be serious about romantic relationships under those conditions? It can make you just think about yourself, first, and about love and marriage some other day. Yet, you still will have romantic relationships, because it’s instinctual. We’re programmed to do it.


2. Whatever You Learned about Serious Romantic Relationships Growing Up is Outdated. The world has changed. It’s really not the same place as when you were born. And about as soon as you get a new idea about how to make a romantic relationship work, it gets old. You might have thought, for instance, that sending texts to your sweetheart was cool and would keep you two together. But your lover may think that texts are just chit chat. If a relationship doesn’t go deeper than that some people will just dump you from facebook, block your texts, and move on. Then again, other lovers won’t even share their true thoughts with you, as if getting close was uncool.

3. Mobilized Relationships. In the modern world, people are on the go and so are their relationships. Both partners are moving while texting or calling on their cells. This takes place in the context of an online social world. At the center of all this activity, friends often act as coaches in each other’s relationships, and group activities often replace dating. So with your lover always on the go, and never tied down, you end up trusting your friends more than your lovers. It seems like your friends are in it for the long run, anyway, whereas your lovers seem to be just passing through. Yet after you reach 30, the compromises you learned to make in order to not to lose friends will be the same strategies that you will use so you don’t lose your lover.

4. Marriage Is For Old Timers. Why would you get married when you can rock coast to coast with millions of singles? And who needs to get close to anyone when you can be sex mates for the night with no strings attached? These questions cross everyone’s mind. Yet most of us burn out on the single life by age 30. That’s when we need deeper connections to real people, rather than mashing it with rave-iacs. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to do much about our current situation. After all, some days we feel like were floating between adolescence and the next party, and our major concern right now is to get our feet back on the ground before we get to the job.

5. There Are Very Few Male Role Models. Young men are not all that sure of what role they are supposed to play in today’s relationship environment. They face changing expectations from their friends, families, and female partners. Their fathers often appear to live in a different world and cannot offer much in the way of targeted emotional support. In response to this situation, many young adult men move cautiously when starting serious long-term relationships. Others reject the thought outright. Whatever the case, there’s often nobody there to show a man what he’s supposed to do in this brave new technocracy. That’s why young men appear to be more vulnerable to getting wigged out by romantic relationships compared to young women.

6. Female Economic Liberation. Women in their twenties generally seek economic liberation rather than a husband. What’s more, most young adult women are simply not willing to settle for a man who does not meet their expectations. Yet they’re willing to be friends and sex mates, and date bad boys. That's because they generally burn out on romance after the first or second true love turns out to be a dud.

7. Every Relationships Starts at Square One. Since there are no standards for relationships, each one will be different. Young people cannot even agree on what constitutes a relationship or what actually is a date. So when you get together with someone, you have to talk about what it is the two of you are trying to achieve. Love? Orgasm? Escape? If you can’t get your negotiation skills up to par—or are just shy—then you’ll be stuck in relationship limbo.

8. It Is Almost Impossible To Find a Partner for a Serious Relationship. Some say that it is so difficult to find a serious partner that they have become ambivalent about love. Others say that singlehood may be the way to go. Yet the majority of young adults expect that a partner will appear in their lives at about age thirty—when they are ready for it. Until then, the world commitment is just not in your vocabulary. That is something for old timers, anyway.

9. The Power of Singlehood. There is a large segment of the population that is single. This makes it seem like there is some sort of liberating power in singlehood. Many young adults take this as a signal to put off serious relationships and marriage indefinitely. It almost seems fulfilling just to hang with your friends and forget about finding a soul mate.

10. The Search for Self Fulfillment. The world is full of wonders and they are only a plane ticket away. And so is that summer internship in a foreign country. That’s why seeking self-fulfillment stands in competition with serious long-term relationships. You want to discover the world and how you fit in it before you think about settling down. And you may think you’ll find the right partner in paradise, or when you get through with school, or on that next job or next town. So the question is: Why not party now and worry about true love some other day?

11. Technological Dilly Dallying. We’re all becoming experts at bouncing around from one thing to another with computers and mobile devices. But we’re really not learning much from it. That’s because it uses that part of the brain that is made for shifting focus from one thing to another. That does nothing to use and enhance the other part of the brain that stores knowledge and uses it to execute plans. This shakes up our ability to look into the future and imagine what we will need. It’s no wonder, then, that so many people are attempting to do their love life with this same lack of focus, especially when they try to do all their connecting on the web. Fortunately for you, if you got this far in this article, you’re doing OK at narrowing your focus when you need to discover new information that you can use to get your love life together.

12. Your Parents Are of Little Help. Your parents occupy a different world so they don’t understand what you’re going through. That leaves you to turn to your friends for advice. That helps at times to guide you or ease your anxiety and emotional pain. But it still leaves you feeling uneasy about your future. So you’re cramming like crazy to get financial independence, or you’ve gone back to the bar to hook up with no strings attached—unless you’ve simply zoned out like a rave-tard. Either way, it makes romance tough.

If you are between 18 and 28 years old, the ideas I’ve just mentioned probably describe your love life and your social world quite well. You’re also probably not worried about how you’re going to handle this situation. That’s because, like most millennials, you see these issues as challenges—opportunities—rather than as threats. This may seem to be counterintuitive to some. But in a world of constant change, you have the opportunity to try out different ways of doing things without paying a big price for it.

Carry on. And don’t feel alone. In today’s constantly-changing world, there are times when most of us have experienced uncertainty, ambivalence, and confusion in our romantic relationships. That's OK. Put your best foot forward and ... kick it!

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Comments 4 comments

Dr Billy Kidd profile image

Dr Billy Kidd 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

Thanks, malaysianews. Just so you know, my book, Low Stress Romance, available in e-book form from, elaborates estensively on these ideas about modern love.

malaysianews profile image

malaysianews 3 years ago from Selangor, Malaysia

Nice thoughts on you modern love.

Dr Billy Kidd profile image

Dr Billy Kidd 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

Thank you, Jean, for affirming what I've been hearing in interviews--no one even has a definition for a date! I'm told each relationship is a new experience because there are no agreed guidelines when you start. Thanks also for affirming my belief that high schools should teach skills and trades that can be used immediately--not just college prep.

Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

As the Mother of a 24 yr old son who graduated college with honors, is an elementary school teacher, and spends several nights a week teaching martial arts to children (he's trained for 14 yrs. himself) I agree with all you have said here. You nailed it. These young people are smart in the areas they care about, and don't even want to bother to be in a "serious" relationship. They also don't make much money, even with degrees, because college debts are so high, and even entry level jobs for those with degrees aren't really enough to live on. I was married at his age. But most of his friends travel, or are professional students, unsure what they want to be if they ever do grow up. I don't envy them. I can't even pin them down to calling what we know as a "date", a date. It's a whole different world, with overeducated young people. Most have no technical skills (which I believe HS should start teaching, they aren't doing anything else). The only thing they seem sure of is that they don't want to get married. I'm not sure if that's our generation's fault, as our kids saw idealistic people in good marriages change in what probably seems overnight to them, but there were issues they didn't understand. I get the feeling they want to be idealistic about love, but are too afraid to trust their feelings. Maybe it's better to wait until they are older. But the years pass quickly, and I worry they miss out on a lot of the good things in life.

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