Originally published in my MySpace Blog, 2/10/2008.
Unhooked Generation by Jillian Straus
The woman that wrote the book was not a clinical psychologist; she was only a woman in her 30’s wondering why it seemed so much more difficult for people in our generation to find lasting love. She traveled to different locations around the U.S. to interview random people that responded to her ads posted in free newspapers and Craigslist. Some points really hit home for me.
1. Do you make a list? I know a man who has listed 42 qualities his future partner must have. I even have a list myself, though it doesn’t go up to 42: must pay his own bills and not try to steal my money; must bathe at least daily; must brush teeth 1+ times a day; must be nice to me. Some standards are reasonable, I think, and some absolutely no one can live up to. I don’t even think I can list 42 qualities about myself, so how do I know if I fit that manifest my friend created? Oh, and once you have your grocery list made, then you can go shopping on eHarmony or Match or Plenty of Fish to make your selection. Like a piece of meat. What ends up happening is that we reject everything, which leads to….
2. Why suffer? If I don’t like something, or if it isn’t working for me, why not just cut it off and be done with it instead of beating myself up trying to make it work? Relationships ARE work. Or at least they require effort. Expecting for things to just fall into place is unrealistic, and bailing is the easy way out. I have absolutely been quick to jump ship but can honestly say that I’ve never regretted doing so. I just don’t put up with any juvenile bullshit anymore. Of course, the “why suffer” mentality is one of the main reasons that couples get divorced; think about it: how many marriages do you know about that have lasted for less than a year? I can think of 7 of my friends right at this moment. Is it that they’re picking the wrong partners, or just giving up too easily?
3. Fear of making the wrong choice: let’s talk about the guy with the 42 requirements again. He repeatedly says that he never wants to commit, because what if the next person that comes along is a better match for him? He’ll never, ever be happy, I guarantee you that.
4. Never allowing yourself to connect because you are afraid to fail at marriage. Wow, this is a big one – I have always said that if I’m crazy enough to get married, it will be only once. Half of the interviewees said they were afraid of failing by not living up to the seemingly seamless relationship their parents have, or failing by turning out just like their divorced parents. I’m afraid of the second one myself. No one goes into a relationship thinking that it’s going to fail, but it’s another thing to think that you’re not even going to allow someone to get close so there is no opportunity to fail.
5. Losing our gender identities. Yes, women’s lib was a blessing, I will bang the drum about that one all day long. It’s what allows me to be a single woman in my 30’s [now 40’s] with a career and the ability to stand on my own. But……..I could really use a mate who knows how to work on cars. And by the way, can he also like going to art museums, and cry at mushy movies too? But I don’t want him to open the freaking door for me, I have two arms and two legs and can manage on my own. But can he still pay for dinner, because he’s the man? I can say that I want a really strong, stoic man who can build a house but still tear up over “Love, Actually”, but how realistic is that? It’s a bunch of mixed messages that lead to misunderstanding because one person gets pissed off that the other one didn’t pick up the check. It is every man for himself, I tell ya – because there are no boundaries on the gender roles anymore. Better brush up on your communication skills.
6. Technology. How easy is it to erase someone from your cell phone, and therefore your life? How easy is it to send e-mails and instant messages, but never talk on the phone or see each other face to face? We’re definitely disconnected and our spelling skills are becoming atrocious – because we are lazy. And scared.
This is one of the few relationship/self-help books that I’ve read from cover to cover – usually I get bored pretty easily or can’t relate to what the message is. This one is fascinating because I have so many single friends, just like me, wondering what in the hell is going on. If you recognize any of these factors within yourself, this may be an interesting read for you too.
[Disclaimer: Since it’s now 10 years old, some references are going to be outdated, but the ideas are still relevant.]