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What Does It Mean to Be in a Relationship in 2017?

Some insight into the minds of the Indian youths today, and what the word “relationship” means to them.

What Does It Mean to Be in a Relationship in 2017?

I recently saw an article floating online that said something like, “Millennials Have Killed Relationships,” and the sheer drama in that one headline nearly made me laugh out loud. I didn’t click on the article, partly because, as a millennial, I don’t like the negative connotation that comes with the term, and the aforementioned headline was clearly advocating that notion. And partly because, I think to say that my generation has “killed” a fundamental social concept is a bit of an overkill. I’ll admit that we millennials can sometimes be self-serving, but I also truly believe that we’re alarmingly self-aware about this attribute and perspicacious in a way that is perhaps daunting to older generations. Besides, every generation has its quirks. Did we all forget the bell-bottoms-wearing trainwreck that was the ’60s?

Regardless, I’m not here to speak for my peers. I’m here to let them speak for themselves. Relationships are complex, fickle things. Everybody has their own definition for the kind of relationship they’re in. But what does it mean to “be in a relationship” in today’s day and age? Amidst a bedlam of left/right swipes and meme-addled minds lies the conspicuous concept we call “relationships.” Baby-boomers believe all our relationships are doomed. What do we believe? Here’s some insight into the minds of the Indian youths today, and what this concept means to them.

Relationships comprise of one (often arbitrary) aspect of our lives.  

This isn’t as crass or flippant as it sounds. It simply means that like everything else in their lives, young people today see relationships as an aspect of their lives that has its own space, independent from the others. It doesn’t define or influence their goals, ambitions, etc. but instead, has a specific place and function in their lives. The very essence of this idea is to not over-complicate things.

“I think [being in a relationship] is a mixture of fulfilling sexual and emotional needs.”
– Anonymous (20, Female, Ahmedabad)

Relationships are synonymous with partnerships.

Almost all the people I spoke to agreed that they’re likely to be in a relationship with someone whom they can hang out and have fun with. It’s not about finding “the one” that’s too good to be true as much as it is about finding someone who’s your equal. The dynamic should resemble a more “partners in crime” aesthetic than an “isolated in love” one. There’s a sense of comradery, connection, and mutual respect.

“To me, in the simplest of terms, a relationship is being with a person you love at a party and killing it in different corners of the room, […] but the one look between you and your partner is enough to let each other know that you are going home together.”
– Sid (28, Male, Delhi)

Source: Sarah’s Scribbles

Relationships are a combination of impulse and premeditation.

We all have different ways in which we approach relationships. We want someone to hold our hand, but we don’t want to put the power to hurt us in their hands. The millennial ideology seems to be a combination of impulse and control; of going with your gut and being wary of heartbreak. While their treatment of a new romance may be impulsive, based on instinct, it comes from a place of caution and understanding of their own vulnerability.

“It’s all about taking it slow, the slower it is the more time one has to assess what they’re in, and what they’re getting into.”
– Anonymous (19, Male, Mumbai)

“You simply dive in. When I got into my current relationship, I wasn’t even “prepared” for it. I had become comfortably accustomed to not hearing back from Tinder dates and simply moving on.”
– Jaanam (25, Female, Mumbai)

The ethos of a relationship remains the same.

The millennials haven’t killed relationships, they’ve simply given the concept a makeover. We might have different tools — most of them involving social media — but the very quintessence of wanting and finding a soulmate in someone hasn’t changed. The whole idea of alienating millennial thinking and making it seem like we’re all speaking a secret language only we understand is absurd.

“The feelings remain the same, but perhaps the manner of expressing things in 2017 have changed, […] the focus on the mode of communication has shifted but the communication basics remain the same.”
– Sid (28, Male, Delhi)

Source: wedbook.com

And lastly, through this study, I found a crucial detail nobody bothers to mention when they claim that my generation is killing the era of romance:

Millennials are ready to fall in love.

The people I interviewed for this piece were between the ages of 18 and 30, of different sexual orientations and backgrounds. But nearly all of them were open to the idea of falling in love.

“When I start, I don’t know any other way but to fall in love.”
– Sid (28, Male, Delhi)

“Don’t be afraid to have your heart broken. It’s all a big risk, but a risk worth taking.”
– Jaanam (25, Female, Mumbai)

And yes, we are perhaps more cautious and casual and self-serving than previous generations — as we should be. The world can be a cold, unforgiving place. But we understand that sometimes, it’s okay to let your guard down. We just aren’t willing to do it for anyone.

“Relationships are messy. They’re challenging. But worth fighting for.”
– Jaanam (25, Female, Mumbai)

Source: Getty Images

Editor’s note: All the opinions expressed — including the verbatim — in this article are subjective to the people who were interviewed for this piece. We do not mean to make sweeping generalizations about the youth of this country or elsewhere. 

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