By Darryl Hodgson,
Developing a relationship fundamentally requires successful two-way communication as an essential first step. This is sometimes easier said than done, considering the myriad of variables which can complicate the sort of conversations on which a couple’s interest in each other was founded.
There are signs, signals and symbols (or “tells”) that alert another person to potential compatibility (or not). For example, some of the more obvious obstructions to getting on the same wavelength exist between the generations.
When children were growing up in the early 1950’s they never imagined that when they reached early adulthood, they would be using a contraceptive pill, burning bras, and sitting down in public places to protest against wars.
The young children of the 60’s would not know that their young adulthood would be exposed to a concept called recession and that divorce and single parenthood would become the norm.
Consider telling a child of the 80’s that their preferred means of communication as young adults would be via a world wide web and that they would carry their phones in their pockets.
The emergence and continuous growth of social media over later generations has significantly changed the dynamics of forming and maintaining a worthwhile, lasting relationship.
Generational groups share a library of experiences that have influenced their attitudes and beliefs and the way in which they perceive the world of relationships.
Each individual has grown up with their own set of culturally significant events which have impacted on the development of their particular generation. These might include, for example 9/11, the 80’s/90’s recession, the 60’s/70’s cultural/sexual revolution, World War II or the Great Depression that can be terra incognita to other generations.
Each generation has their own frame of reference and unique way of interpreting and understanding the world around them, and the relationship roles performed by family and other influencers.
The main challenge today is to find a way of bridging these experiential gulfs.
In order to better understand the reference points of the different generations, it is worth examining the history, influences, mindset, psychology and symbolism of different generation. Each of these factors help characterise generational values and act as stimuli to workable communication.
If we follow this line of thought then it is worth having some insight into various generational characteristics. For instance, research shows that Gen Zers have grown up in more diverse settings than did previous generations and have higher percentages of single-parent families, mixed-race families, and LGBTQIA+ parents in legally recognised partnerships.
For Gen Y, key influencers involve the internet and Baby Boomer parents. They are stereotyped as entitled, manipulative, confident and demanding. Symbolism revolves around clothing and music.
Gen X influencers include growing up in the 60’s, the 1990’s recession, the emergence of AIDS, no-fault divorce and widespread recreational drug use. Psychological generalisation involves rebellion, cynicism and introspection. Symbolism reflects an attitude that “there must be more to life”.
Although generational differences are the very tip of the iceberg in assessing compatibility they can provide a means of getting on a wavelength which can lead to fruitful interchange of ideas.
Balancing active listening with communicating is the first step in forming an enduring relationship and overcoming this minefield of differences in values and perspectives.
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