Generation Z, the current Pulse generation, is not dating the same way past generations did.
Is their approach to relationships more pragmatic, and why so?
Our conversation with some young people with one reflection, “Are you ready to settle down?” shaped up the debate on why this generation is not attracted to the traditional romantic and sensual antics of the past, or the commitment that comes with love relationships.
Many feel they need to achieve stability for themselves before bringing on board another person to be a part of their lives permanently.
Growing up at a time when the Internet runs everything, Generation Z are more aware of themselves. They do not need another love song at the disco to get themselves going, or a love letter from a lover miles away expressing how they miss them.
Through the Internet, Generation Z can communicate and articulate both who they are and what they want from a relationship, without compromising their identity and needs.
They easily access relationship information online and meet new people every day, with just a click of their smartphones.
Vanessa Chebet, a video producer, tells Pulse that the dating scene has changed, mostly due to the widespread use of the Internet and social media.
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“I do not think the youth make any logical decisions. Most of the young people I know are in relationships as a result of peer pressure. To fit in the society by posting couple goals on social media,” she says.
She says unlike in the past when relationships were genuine and with pure intentions, Generation Z are in relationships for what they stand to benefit from them.
“In the past, there were many healthy relationships and marriages, where women were the breadwinners. Nowadays, when a woman is working and the man has no source of income, then there is no relationship,” she says.
Vanessa says today most young people date for short-term benefits, including money and on rare occasions societal status. “These young people will date you for what you have,” she says.
Clara Masinde is a Third Year student of Mass Communication at Maseno University. She says she cannot date a man who does not have a stable life.
“The man’s sole responsibility is to provide for and protect the family. If he cannot provide for and take care of himself efficiently, then how will he take care of me?” she poses.
The 23-year-old would prefer to date an older man, someone who has their life figured out and she can learn from, and has proof of financial stability.
“I had a rough childhood. I promised to work hard and make sure I have a comfortable adulthood. Will I have the life I have always wanted for myself if I choose to see a man who cannot provide for me? Life is what you make it,” she says.
Clara says that before making any move with a man, she must learn him and that if his lifestyle matches what she is looking for, then she can learn to love him.
However, being a student, relationships are a priority.
“To me, dating is not a must, and if I am going to date someone, then it has to be someone who can give me the life I have always wanted. Otherwise, I am keen on making myself better, finishing school and building a career,” says Clara.
Peter Theuri, 26, a geospatial engineer and a business reporter, says most of Generation Z are not in intimate relationships because they are in love with their partners, but for what they stand to gain from the relationship.
Peter says many youths he interacts with have a fixed perception of relationships.
“They already know that their relationships are not going to work. I must say that it is a perception that social media has created. As a result, very few believe in a happy ending,” he says.
The journalist says he was shocked by the feedback when a former classmate tweeted, “Make all mistakes in the world but do not make the mistake of getting married,” says Peter.
Ken Aringo, a Counselling Psychologist and life coach, says most youth relationships are not pragmatic. He attributes his statement to a society deprived of authentic relationships.
“Our generation has worked so hard to earn the money, own the cars, acquire the houses and look the part (style and fashion), but we have failed miserably in molding a healthy family unit for our youth,” he says.
Ken adds; “I met a 15-year-old who told me she was on her seventh relationship and I knew exactly where she was coming from.”
The youth chaplain says the ideal way of sustaining a relationship is by having a goal and a destination at the beginning of a relationship, something he says, most of Generation Z lack.
“One more thing: The one thing that is in short or in no supply for most youth is commitment, a long-term approach to doing anything,” says Ken.