Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which is often reason enough to send young romantics into a tizzy about not having someone with whom to spend it, or about trying to figure out what to do for the person with whom they’ve been flirting for weeks. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day for one to realize that the definitions of love, romance and dating are radically different from what they used to be.
For current 20-somethings, issues of love and romance are more ambiguous than they’ve ever been. Because the way we communicate has changed so drastically with the advent of cell phones, texting, Facebook and Skype, there are higher stakes on relationships than there were before we felt the need to be in constant communication with everyone we know.
Has an older person ever told you that he used to get only five minutes to talk to his girlfriend on the landline each night? Well, those days are long gone, and maybe to our own detriment. Now the worry is not whether we’ll get five minutes on the home phone but whether or not they decided to Facebook chat us while we were both online, or why it’s taking someone so long to respond to the text message we sent five minutes ago. Quite simply, being involved with someone means having to be aware of both his physical and virtual presence at all times. And that’s exhausting.
So it’s worth asking ourselves whether our ability to be in constant communication has made it more taxing than exciting to be interested in someone. Perhaps we hear and see too much of people because of all the ways we’re now connected. This inevitably takes away some of the mystery and excitement that comes from thinking about — and not being in constant communication with — another person. Instead of looking forward to the time we will get to see or hear from someone, we spend timeoveranalyzing what someone said (or didn’t say) in a text message.
And then there’s the infamous label. The crazy demands of constant communication have contributed to the changing definitions couples place on themselves. We’ve all heard them: We’re just hooking up. We’re exclusive. We’re dating. And finally, to call someone your boyfriend or girlfriend has become synonymous with making an enormous life decision, and understandably so. Committing fully to someone now carries with it new demands and higher expectations.
On the other hand, maybe this prevents us from rushing into things that we’re not ready to do. Being a 20-something nowadays is tiring enough as a single person. We’re trying to do well in school, get an internship or job or just figure out what the next week will bring. Adding another person into the equation is sometimes a welcome distraction, but it can be an overwhelming one, too.
The good news? Regardless of whether we’re in relationships come Valentine’s Day, the great thing about being a 20-something is that there isn’t a rush to make life-changing decisions about romance just yet. Maybe this Valentine’s Day should be less about scrutinizing romantic gestures (or lack thereof) and more about realizing that perhaps the true point of romance is that it shouldn’t have to be this complicated.
Brooke Berger is a junior in the College. She can be reached at [email protected] THE 20-SOMETHING TRANSITION appears every other Friday in the guide.