Category Archives: Culture

Millennials vs. Vulnerability: Who is Really Winning??

 

 

What scares Millennials most in the world? The rising cost of housing? Looming student loan debt? Net Neutrality? No wifi? Negative. A Millennial’s worst fear is the prospect of vulnerability. I don’t merely mean talking about your childhood, I mean having to tell a guy you like how you really feel about them. Double texting someone that has not responded to you in four days. Having to ask someone “what are we?” *cue music from Jaws* You know what I am talking about. This sort of “put your dignity on the line” honesty is what instills fear in us like nothing else can.

To be specific, unreciprocated vulnerability is what scares us most. It is being too accessible to someone who is not accessible to us. It is crossing oceans for someone who would not cross a puddle for you. Unrequited vulnerability says I am giving more than I am getting. I am being manipulated and extorted and used. I am the only one who cares. As a result, vulnerability feels weak and exposed and helpless.

We are so terrified of being someone’s number two that we are willing to play any number of exhausting games, say any number of lies, and sabotage our own relationships to reduce vulnerability, or at least the appearance of vulnerability.

That is the thing about vulnerability in Millennials, we are far more concerned with the façade than we are what’s going on in the inside. We would rather look perfect on the outside and be a mess on the inside than vice versa. We would rather let someone we care about think that we don’t give a shit about the relationship, and its all casual and “no string attached,” but be in emotional turmoil on the inside, than tell someone what we are really thinking. We would rather make someone else feel lesser, than have to feel the pain of unrequited vulnerability. Heaven forbid someone think that we care more than they do.

As a generation, we are pretty okay with physical vulnerability like nudity and sex, it’s that emotional vulnerability that frightens us. Ironically, emotional vulnerability and physical vulnerability are deeply intertwined, although we would love to pretend that they are not. We love to separate them as estranged entities when in fact physical vulnerability is often a direct ticket to “catching feels.” From there, emotional vulnerability is the first stop on a long road trip of heartbreak and crushed self-esteem.

Now we are a generation that is ridiculously cynical when it comes to “catching feels.” And rightly so, “catching feels” is the worst. Like I would rather have my naked body dragged across hot coals and thrown into a pool of gasoline than catch feels. Catching feels is the ultimate gateway to vulnerability, and once you’ve opened the door you can’t go back. You either have to get over this person (an often long and arduous process) or dwell in emotional turmoil for an indefinite period. Yippee. Dating is so fun.

As a result, we have become a generation of defensive daters. It is all about protecting our own dignity and hearts no matter the costs. It does not matter if we ghost that guy or reject that girl and never speak to her again, as long as our own dignity is intact. As long as we have protected our hearts and minds from actually falling for someone. We don’t mind hurting someone else’s feelings as long as our own feelings are not hurt.

It is okay for someone else to be vulnerable, as long as we get to remain aloof and apathetic, because the person who cares the least is the person with all the power in the relationship. Control is power. The ability to manipulate a situation. The feeling of supremacy. The capacity to influence. For Millennials, vulnerability is a roadblock in our ability to remain in control and possess power.

Now apart from being wrapped up in a culture that tells us to care very much what others think and to groom ourselves to be perceived a certain way, being guarded is also a matter of self-respect for millennials. We see it as dignifying to be stingy with our vulnerability. We feel that our self-worth is somehow wrapped up in how much we have exposed of ourselves.

For Millennials, vulnerability is a currency, and you want to be as frugal as possible. To some extent this isn’t wrong. You wouldn’t go in the middle of the street and yell your deepest darkest secrets, not because they define you, but because you respect yourself more than to just bare your secrets to anyone. Yet, there is a fine line between self-respect and being emotionally stingy.

We have somewhat misguidedly deemed self-respect to be only investing in a relationship where we are sure to get a return. While there is truth in guarding your heart and protecting yourself, there is no such thing as a relationship with a 100% probability of investment growth. Most often a gamble is necessary. If we never take the risk there is never the reward.

This imbalance of investment that we fear so much is pretty much the root of all relational conflict. I first realized this when I was upset with a friend who I felt was avoiding me. There was no conflict. Yet I felt the distance growing between us even though we lived together. I would ask her about her day and ask her to hang out, but she was always aloof and “too busy.” It felt terrible. It took me a while, but I realized that what I was really truly upset about was not that she was not hanging out with me or spending time on our relationship, it was that I felt that I cared more about her than she cared about me.

Think about it. Whether romantic or a friendship or family relationships, relational conflict is derived from one person caring more than the other person or at least a perceived feeling of such. I think this realization was a huge step in gaining perspective about conflict. Rarely are we really upset about an unanswered text or showing up late or a failed promise. Rather what’s truly bothering us is a fear that we care about someone more than they care about us. Being on the non-reciprocated side can really hurt. It feels degrading. And as Millennials, this is a pain we are willing to do almost anything to avoid. We would rather come off as cold and aloof than lower ourselves to tell someone we care about them if we feel that it won’t be reciprocated.

I remember back in good ol’ 2003 watching Lizzie McGuire, and in one particular episode Lizzie was going to tell resident hottie, Ethan Kraft, that she had a crush on him. I remember watching in horror as Lizzie bared her soul to a guy who was nice enough, but clearly did not feel the same way about her. How could Lizzie be so stupid? Didn’t she respect herself? Didn’t she care about being embarrassed?? I remember the horror my 9-year-old self felt as I watched Lizzie throw caution to the wind and embarrass herself in font of him. Even then I saw such vulnerability as something to be avoided like the Bubonic Plague. I carried this mantra with me for the next 15 years. I would never tell anyone that I liked them unless I was sure that they felt the same. The alternative, was not just humiliating, it was a degrading shot to the ego, and totally avoidable. I couldn’t understand why Lizzie had wanted to share that info if she did not have to. No one was making her tell Ethan!

But that is the thing about Millennials. Millennnials are total control freaks. We are obsessed with trying to control and manipulate our circumstances. And when it comes to feelings and dating we want to control that too. Everything is a power play with us. Perhaps it has something to do with trying to combat our role as the world’s scapegoat. Or perhaps it is that nasty sense of entitlement we are so often accused of having. Or maybe it has to do with us being socialized to have control over everything in our lives the same way we exhibit control over other instantly gratifying things like Netflix and Uber. Either way we view control as a necessary means of achieving success and happiness. We feel that if we can just master our emotions and minimize our vulnerability then we will have total control and no one can hurt us.

The truth is that the path to successful and fulfilling relationships is paved with heartbreak and embarrassment, and yes, lots and lots of vulnerability. Maybe Lizzie McGuire had more emotional intelligence than we did back in middle school after all.

Vulnerability is what relinquishes us from the prison of perfectionism and having to maintain a façade. Vulnerability is what prepares us to be authentic and honest and communicative with one another. Vulnerability is the framework behind growth and development and self-awareness. Without vulnerability we remain stagnant. Vulnerability drives us out of our comfort zones and into our truest potential. Vulnerability doesn’t mean not caring what other people think, it is seeing the bigger picture beyond the temporary feelings of fear and anxiety. Vulnerability can be a worthwhile, calculated risk. If we never take the risk, we will certainly never get the reward.

As a Millennial myself, I totally get it. We’ve all been hurt one too many times and the wounds of our previous experiences with vulnerability still sting. We promise ourselves to be miserly with our vulnerability in order to protect our fragilie hearts. We never want to get hurt again. Yet, at some point we are going to have to humble ourselves just a bit, and go out and catch some damn feels and not expect anything in return. No 100% probability of texting back. No games. No favorably calculated circumstances. No tit for tat dating rules. No playing hard to get. No facade of nonchalance.

Maybe #livingyourbestlife does not have to always mean sipping sangria on a yacht in Spain, maybe it can also apply to scary moments of telling someone you care about how you really feel. Maybe it could even be a choice to text someone back immediately or call them instead of texting. Maybe vulnerability is not a plague to be avoided, but an opportunity to be embraced.

 

good luck,

Ellie xo

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First post: We are all fucked… and not in the good way

 

Welcome to 2018 where everything is easier and more accesible than ever before! Not only are movies, TV, music, food and fucking all instant, but it is now easier than ever before to hate yourself! In the mood to be objectified and manupulated? Tinder and it’s breeding ground for fuckbois has you covered! It should not take longer than 10 seconds after sending a simple hello to receive an unsolicited dick-pic! 

Having some trouble shedding those extra pounds?Not to worry! You can effortlessly peruse your Facebook page and find yourself face to face with a nauseating assortment of horrendous current world events and the obnoxious opinions and grammatical errors of your 599 closest friends and family! That ought to have you puking up your lunch in no time! 
Fancy feeling like a fat loser? Instagram is a quick, painful way to see how size zero, narcissistic twenty something models are spending their days and their parent’s money in ways that will have you wondering why on earth you are at a lame-ass nine to five instead of Soul Cycle. 
But the dating scene…*cue nausea *I find myself caught in between an aloof, self-righteous stance toward it and a full-on melt down. Okay I get it, the 50s are over. Men don’t take women on dates any more, likewise women don’t wait to put out anymore. Gender norms have been cancelled. Feminism and fucking are in and virginity and housewives are out. Times have changes. We are progressive now. Women are sexually liberated. The problem is that neither gender has a fucking clue how to respond!
 
Never before have the rules of dating been so undefined, so murky. Never before could you send a stranger a digital picture of your genetalia. Never before could you so easily get a woman to sleep with you, it is almost as if she too wanted to get laid! Amazing! Never before was it so socially acceptable for both men and women to meet and bone all in the space of three hours. It’s time to throw out the Juicy Couture tracksuit (jk these are totally still comfy af), say goodbye to Blockbuster and settle into 2018. Welcome to the jungle. 
And yet people are confused, scared, and disoriented by all this social change in gender roles or their lack-their-of. There is no longer a protocal or hegemony to keep us in check. The only rules are that there are no rules. Women can ask a man out. Men can be stay-at-home dads. Relationships don’t have be defined. You can have regular sex with your platonic friend and no one has to expect anything more. 
Yet, with so much confusion the dating terrain has become infested with scapegoats. Sluts. Fuckboys. Nice guys. Bitchy women. They are all to blame for an impossible dating climate. So we cope with this new, rugged landscape by blaming others, denying responsibilty, clinging to plausible deniability, creating impossible standards, criticizing other lifestyles, calling irresponsible behavior “empowering,” and claiming victimhood.
 As women, when we get what we want we are “empowered bad bitches,” but when we don’t get what we want we are vicims of a shameless dating culture. Without parameters, immature, hypocritical behavior abounds. But it is also a natual response to a dating scene that is basically a free-for-all fuckfest. 
Likewise, men don’t know how to respectfully repsond to a culture where women can have casual sex and don’t have to get married or have kids, and women do not know how to handle this new found freedom in healthy, responsible ways. So we end up with a culture that points fingers and whines and cries victim because they don’t like to lose a game with undefined, ever-changing rules. 
And I am there too, in the thick of it. I’ve played the sadistic texting games and swiped right and left and ghosted my fair share of decent people whom I was “bored” of. I answered the phone when my girlfriends have called in tears to tell me about getting pumped and dumped. I have listened to my fratty guy friend tell me about the “hoes” that have screwed him over and which types of vaginas he thinks are gross without a hint of irony. 

And the conclusion I have come to is that we are all fucking confused and insecure. We are hurt and scared and fumbling in a dark room where the only logical resposne is self-preservation at all costs.

So now that I’ve got you all nodding your heads fervantly, picturing all the fuckbois that did you wrong and the crippling insecurity that drove them to behave like monkeys, lets take a minute to discuss. We are all both perpetraitors and victims in this aggressive dating world.
This blog is a disucssion of dating in 2018 as we know it, why it is the way that it is and how we as responsible, respectable, mature, bad-bitches can respond to it. I am so glad that we live in a world where it is okay to be different and do life differently. I am eccsatic that women can have jobs and marry for love, and not because her parents picked out the farmer nextdoor. I have goosebumps thinking about women being more highly educated than men and being able to vote and have sex without having to wear scarlet A’s, yet this privllege comes with repsonsibilty, for both men and women. It comes with responsibilty for both the women who forge these new paths in dating and the women who choose not to. It also comes with responsibility for the men who dare to evolve with the new culture and for the men who choose not to. 
I am not here to sugar coat anything. Nor am I here to abide by any warm-fuzzy, political correctness to assuage our fragile egos. My advice is to lean into the wild diversity of dating in 2018- don’t fight it, don’t complain about it, don’t bemoan the bygone era of the 1950s and dates to the Soda Shoppe. 
Know what you want and go after it, but embrace the challenges and the opportunities that no other generation before us has ever encountered. Save the complaints for a retrospective night 50 years from now when you tell your grandchildren that they are doing romance all wrong and it is just isn’t like the good ol’ days of Tinder anymore.
As we embark on and continue in this confusing jungle of “u up” texts and “we are just talking,” let’s just all admit that this is mostly a mystery to all of us and we are really all just playing it by ear. Please don’t take yourself too seriously. 
Part of being a mature adult is understanding how much you don’t know and how much more there still is to learn. I always say that the wisest person is the person who says “I don’t have all the answers” and really means it. I would be lying if I said I was some kind of dating guru, I don’t have a fucking clue. I get nervous in front of people I find attractive. I have serious trust issues with men. Frankly I am just here offing unsolicited advice. 
But before you set your Ipad down, roll your eyes and go back to stalking your ex on Instagram, allow me to grasp at the strings of your broken, cynical, millennial hearts. Let’s discuss this crazy, new dating universe with a new dialogue, void of how we wish dating could be, and instead focus on how we can be better members of this new culture.

 

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor,
Ellie x
 
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Every Girl’s Favorite Book is Lolita

Every Girl's Favorite Book is Lolita

Do women prefer older men? Does Lolita reveal the true sexual inklings of men and women today? What the hell does this possibly perverted and somewhat twisted piece of classic literature have to do with millennials, and why in God’s name is this your first blog post??

Human beings today are unfit for the modern dating world. For the past few thousands of years, men and women existed in tribes consisting anywhere from a few scores to a couple hundred individuals max. Contraception was inconceivable. Pubic hairs ran rampant. And slut-shaming was real. Very real.

It has only been in the past century or so where suddenly penises can now enter vaginas with little to no consequence, mommy welfare state will take care of your bastard children, and your next three sexual partners are only a Tinder/Bumble/OkCupid/POF/[Insert favorite hook-up app here] swipe away.

And before all this? In these aforementioned tribes, it was typical that a man would wait until he was around ~20-25 years of age or so and then take a bride who was most likely between ~14-16 years old. Women and men pairing up early and with this particular age dynamic was the natural state of human mating since, well, forever!

A man wrapping up his willy and racking up a notch count that is higher than his undergraduate GPA was not only unheard of, but downright impossible without leaving an army of fatherless children in his wake.

And where does this bring us today? Us millennials have found ourselves in the depths of a dark and vicious dating jungle that is unlike anything the world has ever seen.

It is unfeasible to settle down before age 30 unless you’d like to be broke as a joke, the dating advice from our Baby Boomer parents is absolute trash, and the sirens call of cats and internet porn can be so strong that some Millennials give up on love entirely.

On top of this? We are now required to spend a ridiculous amount of time playing the “Dating Game” if we choose to grab our map and compass and march straight into this racy storm of heartache.

Whereas in times past they’d simply wait until they came of age, we must now maneuver and swerve our way through 40 or 50 different dates per year alongside jumping in and out of hedonistically-focused 3-month flings.

I don’t think this state of Romantic Affairs—if you can call it that—will last. Something will ultimately give.

Us Millennials must take it upon ourselves to be the next step in relationship evolution—a man/woman (or something in between?) who is capable of withstanding fragmented relationship after relationship, enduring age gaps that we believe are socially normal—but Lolita’s Humbert would find atrocious—and deciding whether committing to someone forever is even possible in our modern world.

So why, then, is every girl’s favorite book Lolita? It reveals the true yearnings found in the hearts of women. To find themselves encapsulated in the arms of an older gentleman and given an exciting, adventurous life. This is far from Mr. Safe with the white picket fence and 401k many guys believe women want.

And why, just why, was this your first blog post? The purpose of this blog is to not sugar coat the truth and tell you the world is filled with pixies, fairies, and your true love is waiting for you just around the corner. Rather, it is tell you the real truth

This blog adheres to Robert Ringer’s Theory of Reality, “Reality isn’t the way you wish things to be, or the way they appear to be, but the way they actually are. You either acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit, or it will automatically work against you.”

Upon this cornerstone of wisdom, the foundation of this blog shall be laid.

We shall begin to navigate the modern dating jungle together.

Your New Pal,

-Lucas Valentine

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