Right after the new year and just before Valentine’s Day, I always like to get the feel of what’s going on with love and marriage across the nation, and to make a few predictions for the coming year. Here they are: Love in 2012.
1. Everyone of all ages will be dating like mad. An unprecedented 110-million singles in America means that they—not married people–now make up the majority of households. And they’re dating! Millions of adults of all ages—30s through 70s–are between marriages, against marrying, or on the way to remarriages.
2. We will become increasinglystarry-eyed about marriage, even as we become increasingly disenchanted, skittish and cynical about it. It is a psychological fact that we long for, and idealize,institutions that promise safety and security. The military. The church. Marriage. Anything that was once reliable but is now increasingly fragile, and even endangered, is a prime target for our nostalgia. I predict that, even as we divorce more often. sooner and more bitterly, we will increasingly long for the “good old days” when marriage lasted forever. Because it so rarely does.
3. We will see online dating sites scrambling to nail down love’s chemistry. Although attraction cannot be predicted, we will continue to try to predict it. Dating sites, already promising characterological compatibility, will scramble to try to promise sexual compatibility. When a computerized program can guarantee great chemistry, I’ll be the first to let you know.
4. Men will accuse women of acting increasingly the way women have always accused men of acting: Reluctant to commit; eager for more “space,” less eager for sexual exclusivity. As women become increasingly self-sufficient financially—and less needy of men for purely financial reasons– their demand for emotionally fulfilling relationships will increase. Men, not used to not being needed, and not always skilled at intimacy, will feel increasingly overwhelmed by women’s demands, and increasingly baffled that women are willing to walk when their demands aren’t met.
5. More couples will cite social media as the reason for their breakup. Already, Facebook and Twitter are implicated in 20 percent of divorce petitions. (More, in England: A recent study puts it at 30 percent.) In 2009, Facebook was cited in one out of every five divorces in the US, and the number 1 online source of divorce evidence, according to the American Academy of Divorce Lawyers. A combination of inappropriate messages to the opposite sex, nasty comments posted about separated spouses, and Facebook “friends” reporting spouses’ behavior, is causing a great deal of havoc…and there’s no let-up in sight.