Relationships are difficult for everyone, but for millennials, it’s even more complicated. This is the first generation who has grown up with social media being the primary source of meeting potential dates. Now that there are dating apps for almost every interest or personality type imaginable, commitment is especially challenging for millennials; they were exposed to excessive choice. How can you ever be sure this person is the right one when there are dozens more potential dates a screen flick away?
Below are five common problems millennials face in long-term relationships and how therapy could help. If you’re planning on getting married or are newly married, discussing the list with your partner can prevent these problems from becoming yours.
1. They don’t value a marriage license and don’t feel the need to get married. Millennials want to experience life before they get married. They’re more likely to want their education, career, and income established before seeking a serious commitment. Some were raised by a single parent and, therefore, find it more acceptable to be single and have a child on their own. Some come from broken homes and don’t believe that marriage is a benefit.
How therapy helps: Exploring how it felt to grow up in a broken home and working through unresolved trauma can lower anxiety and heal the fear, which will overcome reluctance to commit.
2. They aren’t sure their partner is the “one.” Millennials grew up with so many dating choices that they constantly question if this person is the right one. Marriage research supports that experienced daters have more difficulty settling down and committing. Even if you didn’t date frequently, you had the option with one swipe on a dating app. Unlimited choices fuel the anxiety many millennials have when they’re going through a challenging time in their relationship.
How therapy helps: Shifting focus to being the sort of partner you want (instead of blaming your partner for what they’re not) can lower anxiety and improve confidence. Therapy will teach you to control your part of the problem in the relationship.
3. They feel stuck with a partner who can’t grow up. This seems to be a chronic problem for millennials. One of the partners is ready for the next stage of life while the other one wants to hang out with their friends, play video games, and basically avoid growing up. It puts the mature partner in a dilemma. Should I leave them and take a chance or stay with them and wait for them to grow up?
How therapy helps:Talking to an objective therapist will help you make a healthy decision and life partner choice. Waiting for someone to grow up and commit is not a good foundation for sharing a future together.
4. They are lost in text translation. Many couples split due to communication problems, and millennials are especially vulnerable in this area. Their primary communication is texting and instant messaging, which are vulnerable to innumerable misunderstandings. Having an argument via text is a potential disaster. Many conflicts are due to small misunderstanding that become distorted because no one is able to calm down enough to talk and listen. This is exasperated when a device is constantly beeping to tell the person they are missing out on someone or something else. Some millennials also feel uncomfortable with face-to-face or even voice communication which complicates the relationship further. The best way to fix a misunderstanding is to listen and be heard while looking at each other.
How therapy helps: Counseling can help the couple understand the misunderstanding by interjecting each partner’s intention. A therapist can also help set better boundaries, including less texting and more talking.
5. Financial problems complicate millennial relationships. Due to the high costs of college, many millennials bring debt when entering a relationship. Deciding who has responsibility for the debt while experiencing the pressure of a ticking biological clock is overwhelming. Couples feel stressed knowing they must postpone their dreams for years due to their burden of debt. Arguing about expenses and who needs what becomes common. Millennials have little hope they’ll be able to live the life many of their parents enjoyed.
How therapy helps: Discussing each partner’s strengths and weaknesses with a therapist helps diffuse anger and criticism. A therapist will help you refocus your energy on making a budget that works for the two of you. A therapist will remind the couple that their financial plan does not have to look like their parent’s or friend’s budget.
Relationships are complicated no matter what generation you’re from. It’s easier to commit and create a healthy relationship if you had good mentors in your life. However, real life is not ideal and no relationship is perfect. Being able to live with another person while creating a lasting relationship that you love is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself permission to disconnect from social media and your phone; tuning into your partner is a step in the right direction.