Point is, once upon a time, breaking up was tough. Why? Because getting into a relationship was such a long, involved process. You had to leave your house and go somewhere (ugh) where people were (why), then you had to talk to a stranger (nope) and see if you two hit it off (blech), and if you did, then you had to work up the nerve to ask them out in person (hard pass), then take them on a date and court them for a while (kill me with several hacksaws). And if all that worked, you would eventually find yourself in a relationship.
But people didn’t put in such ridiculous amounts of time and energy just to adhere to some boring social norms. All that work served a secondary purpose: it gave people the opportunity to really get to know the other person and confirm whether the person they were courting was actually the kind of person with whom they could see themselves spending the rest of their lives. As a result, all that work made the prospect of breaking up particularly unpalatable.
Today, though, breaking up is easier than ever. Here’s why.
We Have Less Patience
According to a 2016 survey, millennials are more bored, stressed and sad than any other generation. Jon Callegher, the sociologist who performed the study, explains that “Millennials, compared to their counterparts, read fewer newspapers, fewer magazines and books. They watch significantly less TV […] They spend less time physically in the presence of friends and family, and an overwhelming majority say they have no contact with their neighbours. They even walk around less in the physical world.”
In other words, we have less patience for everything life has to offer, and we’re much quicker to cut the cord on something – or someone – when things aren’t going the way we’d like. On one hand, there’s something to be said for sticking things out when times are tough. Expecting things to be easy all the time is unrealistic; more than that, it kills our ability to handle adversity calmly and confidently.
On the other, though, this quick-trigger reflex is totally understandable: life is short, so why spend any more time than you have to doing something – or someone – that doesn’t make you happy?
Ghosting Is A Thing Now
I’m not going to sit here and defend the practice of ghosting, buuuuuut I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done it in the past. The rational side of me knows it’s a shitty thing to do to someone – they’re putting themselves out there and hoping you two continue to connect, and disappearing without any warning is not only rude, it’s also a pretty fucking cold-hearted thing to do. I know all that.
But man, is it easy to do. You just…stop. If you live in a major city, you can block someone on social media and block/delete their number, and odds are you’ll never run into them again. Easy-peasy.
While it may be simpler for the ghoster, it sucks for the ghostee. It seems simpler just to disappear than to have a frank, open conversation with someone about why you want to stop seeing them; eventually, they’ll get the point either way, right? (The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s easy to do, but just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s good. Take it from me, a former shitbag: ghosting ain’t cool.)
Finding Someone New Is Easy As Hell
The main reason breaking up is easier than ever is because starting a relationship is easier than ever. You can sit on your couch and chat up some cute co-ed (I don’t know what the youths call each other these days) with the same device you use to watch videos of dogs falling down the stairs. If you really want, you can kick-start a relationship with multiple people all at once, and you don’t have to leave your house until you’ve already skipped all the hard parts of meeting someone new.
Basically, technology has given us all cheat codes for starting relationships. Problem is, no such shortcuts exist for maintaining relationships, which is exactly why we end up bailing on them. We have no incentive to do any hard work when it comes to relationships, because we can just toss it in the garbage and start fresh with a new one in the hopes that the next time around won’t require as much effort.
So, yes, it’s easier than ever to break up. But the easier something comes to us, the less we enjoy the accomplishment – when’s the last time you bragged to your friends about taking a 2-mile leisurely stroll? Relationships shouldn’t be a constant uphill battle, but they also shouldn’t always be smooth sailing.
Just because the path of least resistance exists doesn’t mean we have to take it.