Old and present relationships: What can we learn?

The evolution of relationships has changed a lot over time. To really understand why we have certain expectations about modern day relationships, it helps to look back at where we came from and how we got to this point in time.

1950’s relationships were based on bright new opportunities.

We all have an idealised image of what a fifties relationship was. There were specific gender roles. Men were typically seen as the breadwinners and women were expected to focus on homemaking and raising children.

Post World War II saw economic growth and stability. This prosperity contributed to the image of the suburban family with a comfortable lifestyle. America being most famous for their ideals of the white picket fence suburbia, and in the UK we would refer to it as 2.4 Children.

These ideas contributed to an illusion of what a blissful relationship should look like. By forcing these stereotypes onto society, couples were stifled. Unable to communicate and consider their own thoughts, wants and needs for themselves outside of that life.

1970’s relationships saw more independence.

There then came an acceleration of the feminist movement, which advocated for women’s rights and challenged traditional gender roles. Women increasingly sought greater equality in relationships, the workplace, and society as a whole.

Cohabitation outside of marriage became more common, and societal attitudes towards premarital sex and non-traditional family structures started to change.

This really shook society as a whole through the conflict of people wanting more independent thought and opportunities, yet the more traditional side of the population fought to keep up the illusion of past gender roles.

The 1990’s accelerated online dating.

The 1990s had a significant impact on communication, online dating grew phenomenally. So why did this impact relationships dynamics? Women sought for further independence which included taking control over who, where and when they met someone. The internet allowed for people to feel less pressure to meet someone.

People in their 20s and 30s were able to focus on personal and career development before settling down because of the felt ease and lessened pressure of meeting someone.

It was far more common to be a dual-income household which then opened our eyes to issues such as childcare and parental leave policies alongside the gender pay gap.

What does this mean for modern day relationships?

In today’s society we seek nothing more than equality within relationships. This comes from decades of growth. The feminist movement is eager to educate the world on what it means to be given the same opportunities and choices no matter who you are.

We cannot escape further push-back from extremist views on perceived gender roles. The digital age has reduced the barriers for all minorities to speak out against it and be heard however. 

This has taken the dynamic of a relationship to the point where we can focus on the deeper aspects of a strong relationship that can mean longevity for a couple.

  • Open and honest communication, contribute to the relationship’s well-being
  • Respect for each other’s autonomy, boundaries, and individuality is crucial.
  • Compatibility in values, life goals,
  • Encourage personal growth and independence. Flexibility, adaptability, and resilience are valued qualities.
  • Despite the busy nature of modern life, couples often value quality time spent together.

When you reflect on the past expectations of relationships and where we are today, we have come a long way, but it will be a while before any obsolete views are completely forgotten. So long as you have an understanding of what the other person wants and needs within their personal life, as well as in the relationship, then you can build a long-lasting relationship nonetheless.

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