When it comes to millennials, there are a lot of stereotypes: that they are lazy and entitled (when really, jobs are becoming more and more scarce), they somehow prefer eating avocados than buying a house, and they prefer putting a hold on commitments. While most of these are untrue, the last one might have a hint of truth in it.
Millennials, also known as Gen Y and comprise of people aged 18 to 34, are indeed more anti-commitment when compared with previous generations. According to Pew Research Center, millennials are less likely to get involved in organized politics and religion, marry in their 20s, or trust other people. Only 26 per cent of this generation is married, while 36 per cent of Generation X were married when they were the Millennial’s age today. A Gallup poll also revealed that the number of people aged 18-29 who are single and live alone has increased from 52 per cent in 2004 to 64 per cent in 2014.
Furthermore, a Price Waterhouse Coopers survey found that only 18 per cent of millennial workers from 60 countries planned on staying with their current employers for long. Millennials are also more likely to rent instead of own, and move between cities and countries.
Why is this the case? San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge believes it has something to do with the culture of individualism among millennials. “Trying to live with somebody else and putting their needs first is more difficult when you have been raised to put yourself first,” said Twenge.
Writer Kirsten Mikesell said the fear of missing out (FOMO) drives this lack of attachment. “We don’t want to miss any opportunities that could lead to a better job, introduce us to cool people, or take us somewhere we’ve never been,” she said. “We love the idea that opportunities are always out there, waiting for us.”
FOMO is especially prevalent in digital age, where we are increasingly interconnected and surrounded with new information. With social media, new opportunities seem to arise every day, be it in career, life or romance. Of course, the idea of FOMO could lead to “choice overload”, where more options lead to “less satisfaction with the choices made”.
Nevertheless, millennials are still looking for commitment in life. The VICELAND UK Census in 2016 found that majority of millennials said their worst fear was”never finding love”. This beat the fear of becoming homeless, getting fired, or finding oneself in a terrorist attack. This shows that millennials are not always looking to promote individualistic aspirations, but they are also looking for fulfilling relationships and commitments. “We’re noncommittal because we have hope, and hopefully, in time, we’ll see the value of commitment, too,” said Mikesell.