Relationships have changed radically from the traditional course of courtship. This is especially true of 20-somethings. Due to the fact that more education is needed to be viable in today’s workforce, while people were once getting married and having children in their 20’s, just a couple of generations ago, people are now waiting until their late twenties, early thirties to get married, and until their early thirties to have children. Many people aren’t getting married at all. 40% of American households are single family households. Lots of folks are cohabitating, settling into long term committed relationships, or simply dating to learn more about themselves and others. Still, older generations often don’t know or can’t recognize the shift in dating and relationship trends. They think it’s wrong. Or they just don’t recognize or understand them. In case you are in contact with a 20-something and don’t want to make them feel awkward when talking about their love life, or you are a 20-something and want to shut down awkward questions, this post if for you. Don’t ask 20-somethings these uncomfortable questions.
Don’t ask if you think the couple will get married. What is the point of asking that? Is it to apply pressure? Certainly the younger generation doesn’t feel the need. And in fact if they get married too early, it will probably lead to divorce as this generation sees tons of options to them. Why should they settle? And if they did plan on settling down how would they know at such a stage in their life? Most are still in college and figuring out what they want to do for a job or career. You’ll just be throwing another uncertainty at them. And they will see you as out of touch and antique. The same goes for asking if this person is the one. 20-somethings are starting to make the first adult decisions of their lives. But their love lives generally aren’t one category. And they’ll have no good way to answer either. Perhaps wait and see instead of interjecting more anxiety into someone who already has so much on their plate. Some folks feel the need to ask 20-somethings when they are moving in together. This is especially awkward because the typical modern 20-something lives at home with their parents. Most can’t afford to live on their own. And if they do, why would you assume that? Lastly, don’t ask if they use protection. This is an especially awkward conversation. Besides that, you are butting in to whether the couple is physically intimate. Unless you are prepared to answer questions about your own sexual status, remember a 20-something is an adult, even if they don’t always seem to act that way. Make sure you don’t overstep boundaries. For more on modern relationships, read Marriages, Families, & Relationships: Making Choices in a Diverse Society by Mary Ann Lamanna and Agnes Riedmann.