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Love, Labels, and 2020 Dating

By Coach Aileen Santos



“We’re just hanging out.”
“We don’t want to box ourselves by labeling what we have.”
“We just want to see where this goes.”

If you’ve ever heard lines like these from someone you know—or if you’ve ever found yourself saying something similar—then you are not alone. These are the catchphrases of 2020 dating that spilled over from 2010-2019.
How did this happen?

The short answer to this is: (Most) Millennials have developed a passive aggressive relationship with their need for love. On one hand, they have this Obsessive Need to Label Everything (ghosting, benching, and sepanx, among others). On the other hand, most of them also have a Debilitating Fear of Communicating their Truth, and expressing how they feel for fear of being labeled as clingy, or assuming, or desperate, and ultimately rejected.

In short, they’d rather invent a thousand terms for the phenomenon of someone simply not being into them (friendzoned! ghosted! benched!) than to tell the person they like that they like them, and they want to be more than friends.

The sad truth is that all this passive aggressiveness isn’t really benefiting anyone. Because instead of the more straightforward story of “We were together, and now we’ve broken up” that allows you to grieve as “the ex,” move back toward singlehood, and heal your heart, we now have these complicated stories of “He never said he loved me, but we did everything that couples do… and now he has someone else he calls his girlfriend.” These complicated situations basically deprive you of even “having the right” to grieve and be hurt, because you were never together anyway.


Understanding your past

Let’s backtrack a bit into the past few generations, to really get a better insight into the love lessons we need to learn from each one. Because the truth is, it’s not really the Millennial Generation’s fault for being so conflicted about their need for love.

During the time of our grandparents, the Boomer Generation, love and courtship were pretty straightforward. There were unwritten rules that everyone understood, so there was no room for second guessing.

If a guy was interested in a girl, he went to her house to visit at a prearranged time. He usually spoke to her in the presence of her parents—this is also known as courtship or panliligaw. And when she said yes, it would be with the blessing of her parents, and everyone in town would know they were a couple.

No guessing needed, right?

Along came Generation X. These free-spirited parents thought that all those old rules of courtship were sweet and all, but they did not like how things were mostly dictated by “what society thought.” And so they made their own rules. Some girls dated guys behind their parents’ backs, and some guys picked girls who their parents thought were “wrong” for them. They rewrote the old rules and made up new ones. They cared more about the actual relationship between the couple, not “what other people thought.”

So now here we are, the Millennial Generation. An entire generation that has no idea what the rules are, because they were tossed out a generation ago. When you ask your parents how to find “The One,” you get some non-specific (a.k.a. unhelpful) answers like “You’ll just know.” Or maybe you don’t even ask anymore, because your parents still seem to be figuring things out.

Add to that are all these new, untested complicated factors brought about by social media, matching sites, and dating apps, you now have absolutely no idea how to start finding that special person who will grow old with you. It’s not surprising that you have all this confusion about love, both your wanting it, and your beliefs about deserving it.


Your 20/20 Kind of Love Life
It’s a happy coincidence that the start of this new decade is almost synonymous with the state of having clear vision. And 20/20 vision is not simply about looking forward to what’s ahead of us, it’s also about reviewing our knowledge of what’s successfully brought us to where we are now, and to use it to our advantage.

We already know that each generation’s approach to love, labels, and romance had their own weaknesses, but each one also had their strengths. The Boomer Generation with their official akyat ligaw and “ask the parents’ permission” approach showed us the value of being decisive about what and who we want, and having the courage to communicate it.

Meanwhile, the Gen Xers taught us that growing a relationship according to what’s best for both partners is ultimately always more important than the hearsay and opinions of other people.

And finally, Millennials—despite all their fears—have taught us that every person is unique and beautiful in their own way.

Let’s move into this new decade with better vision and a stronger foundation for our future relationships. We should always combine the important lessons of the past, and deliberately and actively apply them to our lives, starting this year.

About the author: Coach Aileen Santos is a Registered Guidance Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology, a Romance Author, and an internationally Certified Professional Coach. Visit her site at

Source: Manila Bulletin

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