The L Word in a Time of Y

Keeping up with Generation Y has taken a toll on love: We all want it, but most people settle for random connections because love is too scary — all aboard the “Fear Of Commitment” wagon.
Text by Francesca Cruz | May 24, 2018 | Lifestyle

After passing a group of women dancing in the street dressed in an array of furry animal costumes offering my colleague and I a few puffs of something, I made my way to the couch in a dimly lit convention space that had been turned into a Moroccan-themed party for the evening in celebration of the nation’s most interesting tech startup event, LAUNCH San Francisco. These mad-genius nerd circuit conferences are always followed by boozing and carousing after the usual — you know, building of a virtual galaxy that is sustainable, with accompanying 3D spaceship, in like 48 hours. It’s a tough gig for a gal that doesn’t believe in sensible shoes.
I was doing the hunched-over-fetching–for-the-seat-look with my sexy Prada’s still strapped on after a full day of networking up and down aisles. Squinting in pain and ready to park it on the couch happily awaiting TDCH (Tall, Dark, Canadian & Handsome) to arrive. I had spent the previous night with him talking up a storm into the wee hours. Yes, back at my hotel room with a pillow divider placed between us (stop judging, I’m a good Hispanic girl) while discussing Seinfeld and the “head-to-toe” concept; there’s no “funny business” if you “reverse positions.”
I was looking forward to seeing him again. It’s so much easier to bond with people when you travel. Things just evolve. No planning, you don’t have to be on an imposed “best behavior” as is expected on a first date. Things either flow, or they don’t, and you just go about your business. But enough with the air quotes. So, there I sat content, with my feet now happy to be tucked under me, ready to chat for a bit and then call it a night. Club Pillow and DJ Cama had a nice incantation going: mami ven pa ca.
And then BOOM! It happened. The rascal universe with its fabulous sense of humor became the conspirator in this story — it likes mischief, that’s for sure. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him slide right in, just like that cat in Tom & Jerry, the wile one in the zoot suit — not that he was scheming, more like he was exuding confidence, which is obviously very attractive. He sat right down in the space meant for 6’4” TDCH and moved his 6’3” Minnesota Nice right in. From that moment, time crawled to a slow molasses and the universe became of two: Minnesota & Miami. His laugh was gregarious, his eyes blistering blue, his features delicate, his movement jolting, smart as a whip, and his energy was spontaneous. All this, and he was still a little rough around the edges. Was this his one Achilles’ heel? The age. We were surely of different generations, but as my mentor says: Take tots while tots are passing.
It was a whirlwind affair, San Francisco, Austin, McAllen and Miami — it was intense, and magical and adventurous and all the amazing things associated with large spikes of serotonin (the love chemical) in the brain and the excitement of novelty, and the feeling of falling fast and hard. Fifty Shades Of Grey came up short — it was 150 watts of blazing blood-red. Late-night Skype sessions, Facetiming while in the middle of jungles and making grand plans for taking over the world. We lived far but we were going to give it a go.
But then, 2 months in, I observed I was sabotaging; and shortly after, one night I woke up at 3 a.m. clutching my chest, with a surging pain, short of breath and feeling as if I was having a heart attack. I crawled to my couch where I had left my phone and attempted to place a call, but I couldn’t even focus on dialing, my fingers trembled. I was a mess. I just sat on the floor and talked myself into a space of calm until I snapped out of it and tranquility washed over me. It was so scary. I later found out what I had experienced was an anxiety attack.
He, in a different city, had something similar happen, on a lighter note, but the end result was the same. We were both experiencing the epidemic du jour: fear of commitment. Perhaps experiencing the physical aspect of it at similar times has something to do with Einstein’s Theory of Entanglement: When you separate an entwined particle, move both parts away from the other…even at opposite ends of the universe, if you alter or affect one, the other will be identically altered or affected.
All I knew was that I had become that person I point the finger at, the one that my girlfriends complain about: everything was so incredible, we were so in love and then he pulled away, and like that, it all fizzled out. He says he has fear of commitment. We’ve all been there. Some much more than others. We have been the love fool, or we have sat with focused attention on a love fool. The common misconception is that fear of commitment is something you deal with in your 20s, and that once you’re in your 30s or entering your 40s that sort of fear is not as prevalent. But here’s the thing, the more I interview or meet individuals — both men and women — from all of my many travels, the more this topic comes up.
It’s hard to focus in present day, and to keep our attention on something long enough — let alone nurture something that is attempting to blossom. We want instant gratification. The second you open your laptop, or worse yet, your phone and now even your watch, you’ll find a hotter, smarter, taller, better (or easier, whichever you prefer) option.
According to Psychologist Andrew Campbell, there’s also something else to account for. We are all trying to keep up with Generation Y — the generation that lives life in the virtual world and is obsessed with busyness. Campbell believes that the longer they’re switched off, the more they feel they’re being left behind. “In some ways, that translates to losing,” he says.
When it boils down to it, we’ve merged into a culture that allows for minimal time for commitment, less time for emotional attachment and more opportunities for immediate physical pleasure. Today, a ridiculous amount of dating sites give easy access to just about every single person in every corner of the world. Finding “the one” has taken on a whole new meaning. And the struggle is real.
In the end, the reality is that we are right in the midst of a fear of commitment pandemic — love requires us to focus, confront our own laziness, impulsiveness and downright boredom. And with the priority of keeping busy, hair-trigger access to a world of options, and it being far easier to walk out on a match, our culture has dismantled the fundamentals of courting and falling in love. But it’s not too late. The more conscious we are of this societal plague, the more open we will be to give love a shot. And that tiny glimmer of hope just might make all the heartache worth it.