Why are relationships so difficult?
It’s kind of crazy, we have so much technology that assists us in meeting people and yet so many people find themselves alone or in a relationship that just isn’t working. We have dating apps, websites advertising what’s on around town, so we’re never short on things we can do. We have interest groups like running clubs, bushwalking clubs, and theatre groups where people of like mind can get to know each other. We have social clubs that let you meet other people over a long period of time and get to know them. Let’s not forget the internet with chat groups, social media, and the like. The list of meeting opportunities is endless. Being able to meet people and do cool, fun things has never been easier. Being able to meet people isn’t the problem.
I haven’t forgotten about that little Pandemic thing either. Whilst it is true that Co-Vid 19 has made it more difficult to meet people there are still plenty of options for the intrepid if they want to put themselves out there. Besides the problems associated with finding the right partner in the modern world of dating and relating started long before the pandemic was even a thing. These problems will also be present long after the pandemic is no longer a thing.
The hard part about dating and relating in the 21st Century is not can I meet someone who could be a good partner, the hard part is finding the right someone. The challenge for us is as it has always been. How do we find and connect with the right person and then develop a relationship that is going to work and make our lives more fulfilled and satisfied for being in it, and not less fulfilled and less satisfied for being in it? So What’s going on? Why is it so hard to find the right person when meeting people has never been easier?
The 20th Century Changed Everything.
Success Seemed Simpler Before?
In generations, prior to World War II, the formula for relationship success was simpler. You simply had to follow a series of social, religious, legal, and biological rules for a long time, say 40 to 50 years; and as long as there were no scandals you were said to be successful in your marriage.
The idea of happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction was not factored into the idea of success in marriage as much as following the rules. Now I am not saying they had it easier. The fact is those generations had wars, depression, disease, and a whole bunch of other things that made life very challenging. The way relationship success was measured was simpler. Follow the rules. Keep up appearances and stay together until death doth you part.
Wars, Depression, Baby Booms and The Rise of The Individual Shifted the Focus of Life
But the 2oth century changed everything. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the suffragette movement saw women get the vote in parts of the world beginning with New Zealand, then Australia, then Norway. By the middle of the 20th Century large numbers of coutries had given women the right to vote. Male dominance was under threat, and women have continued to grow in power both socially, legally and economically in most modern countries ever since. Whilst there is still a lot of work to do to create true equality of the sexes the decline of male dominance and rightness has shifted how the sexes relate enormously.
The people living through the 20th Century experienced a century of wars that radically changed peoples values around the purpose of life and living. The Russian Japanese War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Russian Chinese War, the Russian Japanese war, Vietnam and Korean wars, the Falklands War, the Iraq war started to erode the average person’s confidence in Kings and Queens and politicians to rule. Let’s not forget the great depression triggered when Wall Street collapsed in the late 20s early 30’s where we saw people’s attitudes to the whole economics of capitalism started to fall into question. In response, we saw the rise of communism throughout Russia, and then ultimately the Iron Curtain countries such as Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Croatia, and Ukraine.
Equally religious institutions started to fall from grace and the average person started to question their faith in God and the Church. We had the baby boom which drove so much growth in the world that market-based economies started to dominate. We had a rise in civil rights and women’s rights movements. We had a shift from living for God and country to living for ourselves. We had large numbers of adolescence staying at home and going to University raising the overall education levels of the population. The youth started to aspire to grow beyond what their parents were content to do and create their own way in life. The “Pill” came along and suddenly women could control whether they were going to get pregnant or not. We saw no-fault divorce, we saw improvements in protections for women and children from domestic violence (yes there is still much more work to be done on domestic violence). In a mere 70 years, the world of monarchs, churches, and conservative social norms radically changed and continues to change.
Let’s Not Forget The Great Disrupter, The Internet
We have internet relationships, we never have to be bored, we can reach out to people around the world. We’re living longer. We’ve got social media and the whole Fake News/Fake Reality conundrum. We have a rise in La Bella Figura or “The beautiful appearance”, the idea that what matters most is what you appear to be not what you really are, making some people frightened to be authentic and not perfect. We never have to get bored, we are constantly distracted. We have had a rise in predatory dating behaviour and deceptive relationship behaviour which can only occur because of the anonymity that is provided to us by the internet. We live in a world where many of us are time-poor. We have the internet and we can communicate with people around the world so we’re on the clock 24/7.
Our Understanding of Mental Health Sheds Light On Psychological Problems.
Not everyone can hold down a relationship. There are some among us who are not relationship ready. Perhaps they are too young and inexperienced. Perhaps they have grown up in a world of entitlement and are unable to cooperate. There are personality disorders that make relating very difficult. Malignant Narcissism, Anti-Social personality disorder, severe Bi-Polar, severe Borderline Personality disorder to name just a few. Then we have people with extreme levels of depression and anxiety and stress disorders. All of which makes relating much more difficult. With the right help, many of these conditions can be helped and people can go on to have great relationships. But in the absence of proper help, relationships for these people can be very difficult. Then we have the bog-standard groups who are just not relationship ready.
We Now Have Unlimited Potential Relationship Options, Or So It Seems.
We now live in a world where just about every relationship option you can think of is available. Some of which could literally kill you and others could bore you to death. We live in a world in which men don’t need women and women don’t need men to survive or be socially acceptable. Our awareness and understanding of psychological disorders now show us that some people are really well suited to relating whilst others are not.
We Aren’t Prepared Early Enough For All The Confusion, Chaos, and Options
With so many options, and so much going on, and so many people being deceptive, and some not being relationship-ready, and so much to consider how does anyone navigate all this cauldron of competing ideas, and find their elusive love, and enjoy happy successful relating?
Here are a few other links that you could follow that will help you understand a lot more about why relationships are so difficult to make happen.
In The Next Post
In the next post, we’re going to frame up what to do about all this chaos and confusion so you can be successful at finding the person who is best for you.
Until next time, Cheers