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Love or career?

When Georgia State students are asked to describe themselves, many of them immediately respond with a classification or a major, not a relationship status.

Students today are more focused on their career advancements than on settling down into serious relationships.

With the millennial generation getting married at half the rate of their parents, the future of holy matrimonial relevance has come under question.

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“The decline in the percent of [young people] getting married has been a gradual change,” said Wendy Simonds, a professor of sociology at Georgia State.

Simonds said people still care about relationships, just not marriage. However she does not “think this is necessarily a bad thing.”

According to a study by IHS Global Insight in 2012, millennials are also getting married at later times in life than past generations.  On average, women today get married at age 26, while men are tying the knot around age 28.

Adia Wingfield, an associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Sociology, names higher economic pressures for millennials to settle down as one of the factors.

“Young people today want middle class jobs, and are delaying [serious relationships] until they attain those positions,” Wingfield said.

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Senior Jasmine Farr credits changes in the definition of marriage as to why young people are delaying marriage later into their 20s and early 30s.

“[Older generations] married for money, not love,” Farr said. “Marriage was an economic decision, not a search for personal fulfillment.”

Farr said women are now independent and do not need marriage to define them as they might have in the past.

“It makes sense,” Junior Chase Bryan said. “Women are getting higher up on the career ladder than they ever have in the past.”

The 2-year gap between the ages women get married in comparison to men has been consistent for generations.

“Women just mature more quickly than men,” said Miriam Konrad, senior lecturer for the Department of Sociology.

She said it is also traditional for men to be attracted to younger women, and women to older men. This constant comes from the patriarchal tradition for men to be the caretakers, therefore older and more established in their careers.

According to USA Today, the millennial generations are is viewed as an ambitious and driven generation that prefers instant gratification and want to constantly be on the go.

As a result, committed relationships can be difficult to maintain. Hookups, or casual sex, have become more acceptable.

“The women’s movement and the sexual revolution have changed things,” Konrad said. “What was okay for men is now okay for women.”

However, Konrad said women still want commitment ultimately, although they “may be cynical about getting there.”

Today’s increase in social permission for millennials to explore both sexual and romantic options is another factor in the matter.

Although older generations may have engaged in casual sex as well, they could but could not openly discuss it because it was highly frowned upon.

Today, social norms have transformed and young people do not have to be married to have sex.

“There have been changes in the sexual norm,” said Wingfield. “[There is] more sexual gratification and less taboo and judgment.”

According to Wingfield, hookups are more commonplace today than in older generations.

Bryan said he can understand why students choose to go the “hookup route” and decide against the commitment route.

“[Hookups] are more common because of our fast paced lives,” Bryan said. “We don’t have time to invest time.”

Bryan explained how casual sex can sometimes be appealing because “you don’t have to open yourself up.”

Senior Lauren Monroe, however a senior, disagreed.

As a college student in a committed, long distance relationship, Monroe said a serious romance is possible while still pursuing a career and a degree.

“I understand that many college students have no problem with sleeping around,” Monroe said. “I think it just takes time, work and discussion to keep a relationship and I do believe that [students] can have both.”

When talking about success and whether it is preferred over love, success must be defined.

“Today, success is material attainment and money,” Konrad said.

As a result, many students have various motivations for attending college and pursuing a degree.

Lawrence Jackson, a sophomore and computer science major, said he would temporarily drop out of college for a romantic interest who was “well-off” and offered to take care of his needs and offer travel opportunities.

“If she’s rich, let’s go do this,” Jackson said.

Monroe said she would “absolutely not” accept an offer of love and money over her education.

In terms of the future, students feel as if, when the time is right for marriage and family, they would be open to staying at home with children, if needed, after attaining a certain level of success.

“If [she] made more money than me, I would not mind being a stay-at-home dad,” Jackson said.

Palmieri said, “I would stay at home until [the children] were school-age, then maybe get a part-time job in my desired field.”

 

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