A poster in the northern part of Berlin shared the information – that we are supposedly a generation that is incapable of relationships. Generation Beziehungsunfähig. The poster was promoting a book reading by author Michael Nast.
It somehow sounded interesting and I started to investigate, what made the author Michael Nast categorise us that way? Which reasons and arguments were behind?
I found the initial article – quite ironically on a german site called Im gegenteil.
The site is a sophisticated version of a dating site, after a thorough screening – interviewers are sent out to meet the “single” and present the man or woman on their site from where you can then contact them if that one single has sparked your romantic interest. (If you are searching – you should have a look as it is an interesting take on a dating service – the singles can be “found” in various german city, it is well written and entertaining. In short not your standard online dating service).
Photo by Nan Goldin
The ironic part is not only that this particular article can be read on a dating service blog. Ironic is also (knowing one single who was interviewed) that an interview or being interviewed for the blog for this particular person primarily led to a lot of shorter acquaintances (one night stands) and very little (read none) deep or long lasting relationship. Whatever was behind this outcome – I can’t say for sure and that’s also not the point – other than it being ironic.
What stroke me as interesting about the term Generation Beziehungsunfähig was that Michael Nast seemed to have hit a nerve, a trending behaviour for people in our generation. I don’t however agree that much with Nasts arguments to what causes us to choose the way of living that we choose.
I don’t believe that the entire generation truly are incapable of having a relationship, much more are we simply applying reaction patterns and behaviour to love relationships that we learned from all other aspects of our lives. We are a generation that have been brought up with the notion that every possibility is open, we are used to being offered endless options and opportunities. We are constantly facing choices – multiple choices. Our reality consists of a local environment that is actually global, our behaviour reflects the chaotic structure of the internet, every corner of every phenomenon has become accessible, increased transparency and the act of uncovering, decoding any given information has grown into a mechanism similar to our senses. We don’t have to decide to critically question anything because it functions on its own. Uncovering hyper-complex environments and situations to some extent is inherent to us, when facing simple choices in simple situations – we tend to overanalyse because we almost precognitively expect the situation and choice to be complex, we are almost incapable of understanding and accepting simplicity.
When it comes to love, relationship, any wish to start a family, reproduce and so on – we are incapable of not applying these mechanisms. Our acquired knowledge and inherent functionalities take over until we face the final choice, stay or go?
Or is that truly what happens? What if you flipped it upside down? I would much rather call us Generation Hyper-Romantic – not beziehungsunfähig. Observing and considering the relationships friends, family and acquaintances enter confirm the notion of Generation hyper-romantic. Friends in a relationship that lack a true connection on every level of their being, that is mentally, physically, spiritually, in their daily life, shared values, wishes for the future, interests and hobbies, are unhappy. In order to stay in the relationships, the parties force, fight to sustain the situation, to not feel alone, to not feel anxiety, they stay in relationships and experience resistance, drama and continuously ignore the signs pointing to the fact that they are feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.
I know very few – if any – human beings who are in a relationship where they experience a true connection, that penetrates all aspects of their being. Meeting such a partner, where you experience this connection, couldn’t be your everyday experience as meeting this person would disrupt your life. You would be incapable of not entering the relationship, incapable of not connecting and ignoring the connection. Apart from the anxiety you most likely would feel and have to deal with, you would experience a deep, calm feeling of purity, clarity and happiness. A state where no doubt, no excuses or explanations would be present or occur, where you sense, pure and clear emotions. When you meet this person – who is able to create this sensation, clarity and emotional state in you, you don’t hesitate to act, to do everything within your reach to win the person over, i believe that characterises our generation more accurately. This is also what makes us generation Hyper-Romantic – once we have experienced a connection that comes close to being a fully emerging connection on every level – we would rather choose to be alone than to settle. With the exception of those in our generation who has not dealt with the anxiety that arises when meeting this person. What Michael Nast discovered and characterised is not per se wrong it is just not totally accurate. What he described is simply a symptom – a major tendency in the behaviour of our generation. Either we settle because of fear, anxiety etc. which in turn make us unhappy in the relationship, feel unfulfilled and eventually we leave the relationship behind and choose to be alone or we choose to explore being alone for various reasons, until meeting that person who makes us feel fulfilled, happy and connected on every level of our being. Entering an open relationship is only an extension or perversion of settling, if you feel unhappy and unfulfilled with your partner – you start looking else where and find an additional partner to fill out the void, seeking to ignore your unhappy feelings, loneliness and anxiety. When the story works, when the possibility is open – you might as well give it a try – seems to be the general rule and it is a mechanisms that relates to how our generation generally behave and approach this love relationship phenomenon. If only the story would work, if only it was possible to apply our general rule of behaviour to the phenomenon and still be able to experience a true connection with another person – I would applaud and encourage everyone to give it at least one try. I would actually encourage you to give whatever you are curious about trying at least one try – because if you did – it would include that you took an active choice. Whether it was a good choice is not what is important. Important is that you are actively choosing something that you felt and feel is right for you. The generation Hyper Romantic doesn’t mean that once you found a partner who tickles you on every level of your being you will stay together or grow old with your partner. You might find after 15 amazing and beautiful intense years together that your connection have changed, have become something different and then you move on – with love and thankfulness – romance somehow include sentimentality as it is defined as a close, often short relationship of love between to people. The sentimentality is then often the result of the temporal aspect of that one romance.
Generation Hyper-romantic lives for the short lived, intense relationship of love between two people, we seek to find each other in love, connectedness, we decide not out of necessity, to make ends meet, to fit in the norm of society. But sometimes we decide on someone out of anxiety, loneliness, a longing for something that in that moment feels stronger than anything else. And then we should go for that feeling, what matters is more the process and experience – it is less if it leaves you single again. Taking an active choice and bringing the awareness with you in your next choice. Being single is not equal to being lonely or alone, having no partner is in no way equal to not feel connected with others. So go for it – if you are curious and when you are no longer – go again! In the end – it comes down to one individual – you.
The article (in german) can be found Right here.
Not Choosing – is also a choice.
Photo by Nan Goldin