Have things really changed?
It’s that time of year again, and while some may dread it and some may look forward to it, nothing stops the influx of feelings that can come with Valentine’s Day. Either you’re in a relationship doing cartwheels down the street or you’re single and on your third carton of Ben and Jerry’s. Or you’re somewhere in between and are currently sweating bullets, in which case, oof.
However self-pity and dairy indulgence aside, this holiday is all about love and relationships and it’s often with our younger generation, you’ll hear how it’s different or harder in the current times of social media to find a significant other or to keep an interest going for longer than a couple of weeks/months.
Whether you’re on your fortieth anniversary, fifth marriage or third tub of the Benny J special, no relationship is the same. We hear this often and a big factor that gets put into this is what time period we’ve grown up in or dated in. This question piqued my curiosity and to excavate some answers I decided to interview two couples from different generations and compare their perspectives.
To peer into a time I’m less familiar with, I interviewed Les Brandt (71), who regularly comes to the bar I work at with his wife Judy (70). They’ve been married for 51 years and have two daughters, so they know a thing or two about Valentine’s Day.
To explore the perspective of a younger couple, I decided to interview two of my friends on the NDSU track team, Connor Wendel and Macy Denzer. I tried to catch up with them at track practice, however, it turns out months of training leave you much faster than months of cheeseburgers. After I was released from the hospital’s cardiac unit, we decided to do it the millennial way and FaceTimed for an interview.
Q: Do you think social media has affected the dating dynamic and if so for better or worse?
Les: It’s gotten worse. We didn’t have any of that, we had A.M. radios in our cars for crying out loud. I think social media’s been a tough deal on a lot of things. I have a smartphone and it’s smarter than me I don’t even know how to run it (laughs)
Macy: Worse there’s just so much out there on social media. There are so many things to see and get offended at or jealous of.
Connor: I think it’s been negative. There’s a lot of things you’ll see that are just unrealistic and it can kind of create high expectations and at the end of the day, most of it’s just fake.
Q: Do you think it’s easier to find someone with all the options online, or harder to find someone with all the options online?
Connor: I mean I definitely think it’s easier to find people online but initiating conversation can be harder, like hitting their DM’s but you have to meet up on a date sometime you can’t just be online
Macy: I think it’s easier, it’s easier to find people’s contact info I mean like a lot of people will have their online/Snapchat usernames out there.
How would you describe dating, making plans and meeting up in the past before there were cell phones?
Les: I don’t know we didn’t have that stuff so we never had a chance to use it. We’d talk on a landline or in school. You had to be a little more committed to making plans then. Nowadays it’s just too easy to get out
Do you think relationships are different or harder today or do people just complain?
Connor: I think it’s harder. Ya, just, I don’t know, I think it’s harder
Macy: I think it’s difficult, not harder. There are just unrealistic comparisons of relationships online.
Q: What’s the hardest part of a relationship? What’s the best part?
Connor: It can be hard finding a balance and being mindful of another person’s feelings not just your own, but the best part is just knowing that they’re always there for you.
Macy: Initially it can be hard to communicate with your partner. Whether it’s your expectations or getting familiar with each other’s behaviors but it gets easier as you go on. The best part is having a best friend and significant other all in one
Les: I don’t know. It’s probably harder on her than it ever was with me. I would be gone drag-racing or be gone to Wisconsin or Illinois and she’d always take care of the homefront. The best part is to be married to someone you can love for the rest of your life and you know it.
Q: What was special about your significant other that drew you towards them or made them stand out?
Connor: Definitely her personality cause she was crazy. (laughs) I remember she was doing backflips in the dorm when I first met her and I was about that.
Macy: I remember Connor was just the life of the party, which is what I always was, so I was like, ‘who is this dude?’
Les: Have you seen my wife? She’s 70 now, imagine when she was 18 (laughs). But she’s always been so neat and tidy and is the most easy-going person. You couldn’t get her in an argument if you tried.
It was very enlightening to talk with multiple people to try to get their perspectives on such a matter as relationships. Often times we think of how things are harder or more shallow today, but forget to see the good past all the bad. Sure social media can be a distraction and make you worry about the wrong things but if our world is so bad then there wouldn’t be young couples such as Connor and Macy, or marriages like the Brandt’s that have stood the test of time and lasted half a century. So if Valentine’s day has gotten you feeling like a sad boi, just remember that being single is probably going to be the shortest part of your life, so enjoy it.