Over spring break, an elderly man from my church passed away, and my family attended his funeral.
Though I didn’t know this man particularly well when he was alive, I quickly learned from the stories and photographs being shared that his lasting legacy was how much he loved his wife, who had passed away a few years before. Everyone I talked to after the service seemed to remember him as, first and foremost, a devoted husband.
This man’s story is sweet, and unless I’m grossly overestimating members of my generation, most of us ultimately want relationships like his. In our age of casual hookups and Tinder (see Twitter accounts like @Collegefessions or @Tinderfessions for the gory details), though, it’s almost hard to believe that members of our generation have the slightest chance of finding such lasting loves.
There are, of course, modern-day couples who manage to set positive examples, but scrolling through social media sites at any given time suggests that these people are few and far between. As a generation, we should be asking ourselves why sleaziness is “in” and traditional, selfless love is “out”.
It’s unfair (and false) to blame our ever-lowering standards on a lack of decent people left in the world. Rather, we should accept that our expectations are skewed because it has become culturally acceptable to think only of ourselves, our frustrations and our desires. The once-standard ideal of selfless love has been shoved aside by our generation’s mantra: “gimmie, gimmie, gimmie.”
We’re too impatient to wait for good relationships to come along, so we habitually try people on, disregarding the impending aftereffects (not to mention the emotional damage for both parties). Just because Prince (or Princess) Charming hasn’t shown up by your 21st birthday doesn’t mean you’ll never find love. Really.
So how can we fix this steadily progressing generational rift? Dating (ahem, hookup) apps aren’t going away anytime soon, and college-aged people seem to have odd fascinations with competing against their friends and “keeping score.”
Right now, it’s all about our individual desires, but in order to have strong relationships like our elders’, we need to remember the significance of putting someone else’s needs before our own.
My inner (okay, and outer) white girl just accidentally quoted Frozen. Thanks, Olaf.
But all snowmen aside, our generation lacks the selflessness gene, and it’s beginning to show. If we ever want to meet the precedent for love set by generations of couples before us, we need to find a balance between maintaining our independent, individual selves (which we should, by no means, lose in the process of beginning relationships) and caring selflessly for another person.
Once we find this balance, maybe our lasting legacies, also, can be ones of love.
September Symens is a junior English and journalism major from Omaha, Neb.