A Guide to Gen Z and Relationships
3 minutes read
- Written by Yubo Team
Gen Z is unlike any generation that came before them. They are outspoken, skeptical, and individualistic. They grew up in the digital age, where technology was rapidly transforming things that had stayed constant across generations, like gender, social justice, and even relationships. Gen Z is rethinking how relationships are made, kept, and ended… and they have a lot to say about it. Relationships and Gen Z was one of the most talked-about topics on Yubo this year, making up a whopping six million live streams! So, to celebrate the end of 2021, we wanted to ask our users to tell us more about why they couldn’t stop talking about relationships and Gen Z.
What is Gen Z?
Technically, Gen Z is anyone born between 1997 and 2012, but at Yubo, we know it goes deeper than that. Gen Z is the first truly global generation. They grew up on social media, making friends with people halfway across the world, and their connectivity makes them a generation unlike any before.
What is setting apart Gen Z from Millenials and other generations when it comes to relationships?
The biggest thing that sets Gen Z apart from the Millennials, Gen X, and the Baby Boomer generations is that their relationships have been forming over social media ever since they were old enough to have them. They are stalking their middle school crushes on instagram, getting asked to their highschool’s prom over DM, and hopping on dating apps as soon as they get to college. It’s a completely new landscape when it comes to relationships in Gen Z. Now, a man is more likely to ask someone for their snapchat than on a date, instagram posts are the markers of milestones and anniversaries, and ghosting is the new breakup.
But our users don’t think that social media is a bad thing for their relationships. According to one user, Messai growing up on social media has “helped him connect with more people”. Social media might be changing relationships but it is enabling new connections that could have never existed in previous generations.
Gen Z vs. Millennials: how do they meet?
Gen Z, unlike Millennials, does not differentiate between online and offline friends. For Messai, this became even more apparent during the pandemic as it became easier “to make connections [online] as everybody was on their phones at that time”. Having grown up with social media at the core of their relationships, Gen Z was ready for the transition to online socializing during the pandemic.
Millennials, however, are struggling to meet people on and offline. According to one survey by CVS Health, the youngest millennials were much more likely to say that they do not consider their friends on social media their real friends, and overall, 53% of millennials reported that they do not know where to meet new friends at all.
Dating apps and Gen Z
While it’s obviously not safe for Gen Z’s to be on dating apps when they are teenagers, dating apps are the norm once they become adults. In the study “Swipe Right For Love”, they surveyed 5,000 current college students and found that 91% of college students use dating apps. According to the report, all genders said they used online dating for “entertainment” purposes more than any other reason. Respondents said that their other popular uses of dating apps were getting an ego boost, casual dating and love.
What are the priorities of Gen Z before marriage?
When it comes to marriage, our users told us that they see it “as a sign of loyalty and devoting your time and love to one person” and that they would want to have financial independence first. The prioritization of financial independence could be a result of Gen Z’s rejection of traditional gender roles. According to Messei, ”where back in the day it was more the woman doing the chores and looking after a kid… in today’s society, it’s normal for a man to do the same”. Denying traditional gender roles makes marriage less of a financial proposition than it once was, and makes individual financial independence a bigger priority as a result.
Work and sex: what is the most important for Gen Z?
To put it simply, both. Gen Z is fighting back against stigmas around sex, especially for women, that existed in previous generations. So when it comes to a trade-off between work and sex, its all about balance and empowerment.
The difficulty for Gen Z to identify a Wokefisher
Another modern phenomenon influencing Gen Z relationships is Wokefishers. A Wokefisher is someone who asks the person they like vague questions about a social cause, in order to pretend that they feel the same way. In a generation as politically active as Gen Z, woke fishing leads to people getting into relationships under false pretenses. Moreover, many of our users said that “in many social causes, the issue is so deeply rooted in how I see the world that it can be hard to be with someone who doesn’t understand or believe in it” Our users said that they want a relationship with someone who they see eye to eye with, or at least have an honest conversation with about political views, and Wokefishing makes this impossible.
The topic of ghosting for Gen Z
So many relationships are starting on the internet, and even more are ending there as well, in the unsatisfying silence known as “ghosting”. Ghosting is when someone cuts off all digital communication with a person without an explanation. Ghosting is the equivalent of breaking up, and the lack of closure often makes it even more painful.
Our users told us that ghosting is so prevalent because of another development in Gen Z relationships: the talking stage. The talking phase is amorphous, but an unavoidable step to starting a relationship where there are no set rules except that it isn’t an “official relationship”. The vagueness of the talking stage often leads to misunderstandings, and because it isn’t “official”, it often ends in ghosting.
Gen Z and commitment: better make it official
Which brings us to another pressure unique to Gen Z – the pressure to become “official”. A relationship is official when it graduates from the talking phase and enters the phase of the relationship where it is not socially acceptable to break up by ghosting. This pressure is compounded by the constant bombardment on social media of relationships that are shown off and glamorized. Trends and hashtags like couple goals and cuffing season on social media stigmatize being alone and push people in Gen Z to feel like they need to be in an official relationship.
Does Gen Z believe in “The One”?
Nope, not in this global generation. Thanks to the power of technology, Gen Z knows that there are too many people to connect with for there to only be one person that could make them happy. That being said, Gen Z believes in relationships, and finding someone worthy of treating with all the love and loyalty that traditionally comes along with finding “The One”. What’s changed isn’t the belief that they CAN love one person forever, but that there is ONLY one person that they can love forever.