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Social Reflections

by Jean McGuire in Society

I have seen a recent trend that intrigue me. It seems to break along the lines of sex and age. I try not to be a sexist or an ageist, but sometimes the facts fly in the face of that effort. The trend I am noticing seems to be most prevalent in women 45 or younger.

I am the first to admit that I am an older woman and that I tend to be a little nostalgic about how things were “back in the day.” It used to be that you would share all your hopes and dreams with your circle of friends. When something went wrong, or you found out someone wasn’t who you thought he was, it was only that circle that knew. In today’s world when you have hundreds of “friends” on social media, you forget that this is no longer a small circle.

I know a number of younger women who tend to post about every emotion and every date. I wish I could feel excited for them about the dates and the men they bring into their lives, but too often things shift within a matter of days or weeks. There are times I cringe at the depth of information they are sharing.

I have had way too many relationships that start out with everything being wonderful and rosy, only for things to plummet quickly. A real relationship takes time and patience. I would love to be able to shout it from the rooftops when I am seeing someone new. But I really don’t want to do the same if everything goes down the tubes.

You have to learn how the other person communicates when they are upset. I am too old to spend my energy “fighting” with someone, but I also know that until you experience how another person deals with conflict or negativity, you don’t really know if you’re truly compatible or not. I remember years ago when a boyfriend brought up something that happened six months before when we were having a disagreement. It literally stopped me in my tracks. We’d already had that talk and I thought everything had been resolved. He looked totally confused when I told him so. We eventually learned to understand how we each communicated. I was much younger then and I can’t say it ever became totally healthy communication, but it improved.

I am generalizing, but men and women usually approach a relationship from different angles. Most women are more comfortable with a one-on-one exclusive relationship pretty quickly. Most men seem to be more cautious and are less willing to jump right in. I have had too many young men express concern about how differently they look at their relationships compared to what their partners express. It takes open communication to address these differing perspectives.

There are people who will reflect back to you what they think you want to hear. You have to take the time to see if the other person actually walks the walk. Even if you start out openly discussing politics, society, and religion, it still takes some time to see if the other person is actually committed to what they say or if they are just giving lip-service to what they claim are their beliefs. Saying you believe something is not the same as actually acting on that belief. My personal favorite is the drama issue. I have dated more men who say they hate drama but then spend all of their time living in drama. No thank you.

There is the elusive “chemistry” issue. You know, you can’t put it into words, but you just want to touch and be touched by that person. That’s a good thing and I fully support that feeling. Unfortunately, I’ve also learned that feeling doesn’t always last. I can remember being irritated by how a now ex-boyfriend chewed. Seriously. This was a man I couldn’t get enough of when we first started seeing each other. He was WONDERFUL. I am sure he didn’t change how he chewed through the course of our years together, but I eventually came to be so done with the relationship that I hated eating a meal with him. Chemistry is great, but it never lasts with the same shiny allure it starts out with.

Despite my concerns about what I am seeing on social media, I am not going to change how people communicate about their lives. One of my younger friends, who is exceptionally bright and well-spoken, even posted a defense of her tendency to share every detail. Her argument is that because social media is so dominated by “look at how wonderful my life and I are” posts, that she thought is helped bring balance to post her highs AND lows. I get that and part of me admires that. The dominant part of me is concerned. Ultimately, it’s for people to figure out for themselves.

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