I was listening to Taylor Swift before breakfast, as you do on Monday mornings.
Today I found myself thinking about why. Why do so many of us Millennials find ourselves hooked on her music, singing along every time we’re in the car?
“Everything was simpler ten years ago,” I told my therapist last week.
“You met somebody, fell in love with each other, and got married. Now here we all, thirty years old and divorced, and nothing makes sense anymore. How the fuck are we supposed to have meaningful relationships in the middle of all this?”
I know I’m not the only one asking this question.
My therapist said that it’s not just my perception — that the landscape has evolved in the past decade and people are finding it more and more challenging to have the sort of intimate relationships that we crave.
My friends and I talk about this all the time too.
We want The Real Thing: a family and romance and deep, lasting friendship and passion and trust and commitment and marriage.
In a word, we want intimacy.
But for many of us, it feels always just out of reach. Our twenties have either been marked by marriages that fell apart or relationships that never seemed to go anywhere. We’re not quite ready to give up on The Real Thing, but it’s starting to feel more and more like a dream that might be too good to be true.
A lot of us are unlearning the bullshit of Purity Culture — that love is a limited resource, that sex determines our worth, that following all the rules will guarentee a successful relationship. But the alternatives don’t look too promising either. Hookups? Tinder? Clubs? Perpetual singleness? Serial monogamy? Relationships just to pass the time, just to feel less alone?
Sometimes it feels like the shine has worn off, like we’re scuffed up and beat down a little more than we’d like to be right now. It’s too late to “save sex for marriage”, we’ve given our hearts away and had them broken, and life has taught us that “happily ever after” is a long shot, if it’s real at all.
But we still want it, dammit.
And so many of us are holding onto hope for The Real Thing somewhere in our hearts, but also shrugging our shoulders and settling for The Thing Right Now.
At least, in the meantime, we’re not completely alone.
My friend Danielle says that “Taylor Swift is very untouched by the world and therefore extremely boring.”
Maybe she’s right.
But as I was listening to 1989 this morning I thought of me and all my scuffed-up friends still holding out for The Real Thing. She’s been singing about love for a decade now and The Real Thing is always just out of reach. Instead, there’s a long list of relationships that never quite became, laments for love that fell apart, love songs about The Thing Right Now, and resolve to keep healing. And still, there’s hope for The Real Thing.
I guess that’s why I like singing along with Taylor Swift on Monday mornings.
I hope we find it someday. All of us.
published October 12, 2015
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