Therapy is often seen as a bandage where hearts can heal and minds can meet. However, there are also the odd occasions when therapy becomes – World War I style trench warfare where shots are fired by the people involved from several hidden ditches of the emotional terrain.
Some may argue – “What is modern love without a laundry list of expectations and arbitrary tickboxes….right?”
It’s a worrying trend when several millennials I meet in therapy, view and describe their relationships and partners like a ‘sigh inducing product’ whom they picked from a plush catalogue – whose sole purpose is to service some need of theirs.
“So…what happened to my warranty”? These unspoken words are silently declared in session. My challenge at this point as a relationship counsellor is a little like Hoola-Hooping during an Earthquake. There is so much that’s stated implicitly but little that is mulled over explicitly.
6 Relationship Problems Millennials Bring Up The Most In Therapy
“Fix him! He’s an idiot” or “Fix her. She’s crazy” are alluded to as the couple in question feel like they deserve ‘something far more substantial or worthwhile’. People like to justify the emotional cost that intimate relationships bear. This sends them on a wild goose hunt for proof that they’re doing the right thing with the right person at the right time in the right manner without fully coming to terms with their partners and their own imperfections.
Here are 6 of the most common themes of discord and common problems that I have encountered while counselling millennials.
Related Reading: 9 Proven Benefits Of Counselling – Don’t Suffer In Silence
1) Social Media Warfare
Some wars aren’t fought with guns and bullets. They are fought with ‘expectations and online comments’. Girls and boys nowadays engage in extensive sleuthing of their partners‘ online behaviour and trouble themselves over any subjective deviations from the expectations laid out. “How could she post this?” or “How dare he liked a photo posted by so-and-so?” is leading to many a misunderstanding.
The need to predict what a person is going to do is trumping the desire to cross-check one’s facts rather than playing the swiping-super-spy.
2) Family Smokescreens
Couples use their family’s expectations as clever smokescreens to keep their partners in limbo without committing to any plans of a future together. This is also served up as a way to punish a partner. A girl may use her father’s standards for what a man must do, to brush her partner aside or a boy may use his mother’s vision for her son’s future as a way to manipulate his girlfriend’s ideas about her career and social preferences. The couple may fail to realise that as much as family approval may be a pivotal deciding factor, it is the integrity and authenticity of their shared journey that really cements their companionship.
3) Money, Money, Money
With the dissolving of traditional gender roles of the man as the provider and the woman as the homemaker, there is a confusion in the power dynamic shared by both man and woman in many millennial relationships. Everyone’s making money. Everyone wants the good life. Shared expenses and personal expenses become a frequent point of battle as a partner may expect the other to ask for permission before initiating a purchase or not indulge in certain types of expenses.
Orders are given where negotiations may be far more useful and this leads to unhinged and drawn out power struggles for absolute control.
4) Everyone knows everything?
In an attempt to invoke the good counsel of a friend, partners are conceding important details of their private lives to outsiders while dealing permanent blows to each other’s reputations in vulnerable moments. Talking too much about one’s personal lives with one’s friends may help in certain situations but it also risks the spinning of the gossip mill where ‘sides must be chosen’. These become the inevitable breeding grounds for mistrust and politics that may further mess things up between a couple with speculation and polarizing commentary from outside sources.
5) WhatsApp Wars
If a text message goes unaddressed and the infamous blue tick marks of WhatsApp appear as a read receipt, certain insecurity commonly ensues in many millenials. The need for an instant reply and closure on one’s terms and timeline – can make a terse situation worse. “Why won’t he reply… does he not love me anymore?” or “Why isn’t she replying? I knew I wasn’t that important to her”, may be one among the many dramatic conclusions drawn in such a situation.
Needless to say, the fights on WhatsApp can become more dangerous than face-to-face skirmishes. What you write in your wrath is kept for posterity and flashed at you as evidence the moment you make a slip. This only corrodes the relationship further.
Related Reading: Millennial Relationship: Are The Millennials Having Less Sex?
6) Advertising one’s appeal
In today’s hyper-connected world, the need to project a certain life has taken precedence over living a certain type of life. Everyone’s got cute pets, exotic brunch spreads, elaborate fitness rituals and new looks-of-the-day to post about on Instagram! This is leading to a widespread sense of ‘not measuring up’ that leads to further insecurities in relationships. It’s not uncommon for a partner to say ‘her life is sorted’ or ‘he’s got so much going on with his friends’ as a response to this self-advertising online rather than a couple committing honestly to the shared moments they are living in without worrying about ‘glamming it up’.
People often want to ‘exact’ from a relationship without ‘offering up’ anything to it. This brings us to one of the most cliched topics that often get discussed during debates on the millennial issues. Entitlement. The desire for more without putting in the work. How do we get a couple to see their own contribution to their relationship problems? The process is tricky with a population that’s getting so picky. Work is needed. Vulnerability isn’t a hoax and there is definitely some value to slowing down on the super-highway of information. Talking isn’t the same as texting. Snooping isn’t the same as looking into the face of a person. We are human beings with flaws and bad habits. The only way forward in a relationship is by being committed to your personal growth – whether you’re a millennial or not.