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According to psychologist Caryl Rusbult's theory of relationship commitment, people need three things to want to actually stay in a relationship: satisfaction with their partner, a lack of alternatives and a large emotional investment.
In today's ultra-saturated, fast-paced dating climate, that three-pronged package is much harder to come by.
This romantic ambiguity was also reflected in my conversations with people who were single. Then they wouldn't have to deal with the ambiguity of e-mails or the unclear signals of text messages.
Asked to define their romantic status, they gave me answers like, "Well, it's sort of up in the air ..." and "It's really complicated! They wouldn't have to overanalyze every word and interaction. Whereas when you're just 'hanging out,' it's easier." As a 26-year-old male graduate student in San Francisco lamented, "I feel this burden to have to do something eccentric or clever or unorthodox.
That means a whopping 64% of millennials were single and living alone, a dramatically larger number than the 52% reported in 2004. Part of our avoidance is because, as we love to tell each other, we're busy.
Traditional dating, they pointed out, encouraged an overly formal, inauthentic vibe that ultimately hindered instead of helped their efforts to make romantic connections."It's hard to tell anything on the first date -- you're so on the surface," she explained. They make it so much harder to pick someone, because you feel like the stakes are higher. I have to show a girl a magic trick." Today's romantic landscape is full of ambiguity, gray areas and a lack of guarantees about where any given connection might lead.
"It's kind of cliché, but it's also so easy to date people in the city," Sarah*, a 26-year-old media assistant, told.
"It's like sex and attention is a commodity."She's not wrong.
"If I'm in Phoenix, I know someone who will want to go out to a show.
In Boston, there's a woman who'll read poetry with me," he told "But I'm not in a conventional relationship, so to speak."It's also all the more difficult to commit to someone else when apps make it easy to find hookups instantaneously.
So consider this Valentine's Day an opportunity to set aside your outdated expectations and embrace a new mindset.