Dating at any age is hard. In today’s culture, millennials are under a lot of pressure from older generations to find a loving, healthy relationship and eventually get married and have kids. Many millennials’ relationships don’t look like relationships of past generations. That’s because we are unlike the previous generations that came before us.
Millennial dating is tough. When our parents were dating, they didn’t have the technology available now. There was no ghosting, filtered social media posts, and dating apps. Learning how to date a millennial can be tough, and even tougher if you’re also a millennial.
I get it – dating as a millennial can be really hard and feel shitty sometimes. There are lots of reasons why millennial dating is hard. I’d like to dive into some things you should know about millennials’ relationships. Hopefully, this will demystify things for you when it comes to how to date a millennial.
If you’re wondering how to date a millennial, the answer is complicated. If you’re a millennial looking for a relationship, it can be hard to find the right person. Even though there are so many good, single people out there, you just can’t seem to find any of them!
Newsflash – dating is a bitch, especially for the millennial generation. Millennial dating can feel nearly impossible sometimes. “Am I ever going to find “the one”?” “What’s wrong with me that I’m 30 and still single?” “How many times do I have to swipe right to find a good date?”
Older generations met their partners through different methods. Some were high school sweethearts. Others have a nice little meet-cute story. But times were different back then. They met someone, fell in love, got married, and had kids when they were just our age.
Many millennials can't even look past the dating scene toward a future with the perfect partner, house, and family. We’re focused on what’s in front of us, and what’s in front of us isn’t great. If you’re lucky you’ll find someone cute that you go out with a few times. But then what happens when they ghost you (or you decide to ghost them)? Your parents didn’t have to worry about ghosting, but millennial dating is different.
When it comes to millennial dating, there’s a lot to learn. How to date a millennial is not something you’ve had modeled to you by previous generations. So here are some things you should know about millennials’ relationships. As an aside, this list doesn’t ring true for all millennials, it’s more of a generalization.
Millennials don’t communicate well when they’re not interested in someone anymore. Instead of telling that person, they just stop responding. We’ve come to think it’s ok to get into a conversation via texting and DMs. But when we’re ready to move on, it’s easier just to ghost. It can feel so hard to send a text or DM saying “I’m sorry, this isn’t going to work out.”
It’s so easy for millennials to find someone to have sex with. Often, it doesn’t mean anything or go anywhere. But all we have to do is swipe right on whatever dating app we're using, and voila! There’s a new conquest. Then it becomes all about the sex and not at all about getting to know someone. A lot of the time, sex doesn’t lead to a relationship. Instead, millennials are left confused and heartbroken. Then they move on to another one-night stand.
It’s a competition to see which person can care the least about the other. There’s a fear that showing someone we’re interested in will bail the moment they see true affection and caring. Honesty and happy emotions aren’t rewarded in millennial dating. Instead of being flattered that someone actually gives a damn about the other person, it’s safest just to run in the opposite direction.
In this backward world of millennials dating, responding to a message right away looks desperate and too available. Instead, we’ll wait for a pre-determined amount of time before messaging back. You know how there’s a feature on your phone that shows that the person read the text message? The way to get around that is to simply not open any texts or DMs. Millennials do this to show how unattached, important, and busy we are with some bullshit logic.
Fairy tale relationships are painted in pictures, stories, reels, Snapchats, and TikToks. Millennials are on their phones looking for Prince Charming or Cinderella. WE might even think that we’re entitled to the fairy tale ending. In doing so, we write people off for small things and then move on to the next potential “perfect” person to date. No surprise when we find a flaw in that person, and then it’s on to the next again. It’s hard for millennials to imagine themselves in a real relationship with perfect imperfections.
Millennials don’t settle because there’s always someone better, hotter, and richer. We go from person to person. When we find someone we like and who makes us feel good, we might enter into a relationship. But at the same time, we haven’t given up the search. The game is more exciting than the prize.
During the quest for love, millennials turn their lives into satisfying and rewarding ones without someone to love. That makes it hard to welcome a real relationship into their lives. We feel fine on our own and won’t leave our comfort zones for another person. Sometimes millennials try to convince themselves that they’re happy and better off alone by finding small reasons not to have a partner.
Commitment for millennials looks like “almost relationships” and sex with no strings attached. We don’t know where a relationship is headed and then worry about whether we’re wasting their time. Many millennials aren’t clear about their intentions. Some people lie flat out about their intentions for a good ego stroke. At the end of the day, no one knows what the hell is going on.
Sometimes, millennials don’t feel the need to apologize when they’ve hurt someone’s feelings. We tell ourselves that we’re not the problem – the other person is. There’s an attitude of “it’s not my problem and if I hurt you, it’s up to you to resolve it.” Everyone can be cruel, so let’s be clear that this isn’t just a millennial thing, and not all millennials are cruel. But there is a lack of accountability often when it comes to millennials’ relationships.
It’s hard in today’s dating culture to trust anyone. Hookup culture values sex over love. The game is all about temporary fulfillment instead of commitment. Often half-assed communication gets lost in translation. Many millennials have unresolved pasts and as adults experience more and more shit dumped on them. This can turn a person pretty jaded. In fact, many millennials don’t trust that love even exists when all they’ve been met with is disappointment.
Millennial dating is frustrating and scary. If you want extra support, I’m here to help. I offer online therapy in Idaho and Iowa and coaching services wherever you’re located for anxious clients who struggle with things like people-pleasing, perfectionism, burnout, overwhelm, and ADHD.
Reach out today and see if we’re a good fit. Let’s start building a better future together.
Danielle is an anxiety therapist and perfectionism coach. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.