Picture this, a 22-year-old is having brunch with her mother on a quiet Sunday morning while they both discuss the ins and outs of her most recent relationship. She’s been dating her current boyfriend for several years now and things have been going well, despite a few heated arguments which she recounts in colourful detail. After gushing about their effective conflict resolutions skills, she turns to her mother, who is still quite amused at some of the terms she’s just heard her daughter use (why call a simple a ‘no’ something as complicated as ‘setting a healthy boundary’ after all) and says to her, “To be honest, I feel like we might be better prepared for marriage than you and Dad were.”

Most people’s reaction here would probably be to scoff at such a bold declaration or to meet it with some form of dismissive laughter. What could this younger generation, with all their overly amorphous relationship styles and sexual identities, possibly have as an advantage in marriage that older generations didn’t – if anything they’re even less likely to make things work! However, such a claim may not actually be too far off from the truth.

Take the example of Matthew Hussey, a modern ‘love coach’ who charges clients up to an impressive £8,000 for an hour of his time. Older generations would likely roll their eyes at such an ‘exorbitant’ fee and move on. However, it just so happens that Hussey is not only able to sustain a healthy clientele in today’s economic climate (employing a team of 27 people mind you), but he is also a hugely popular online figure with Gen Z. Creating video content specifically about relationship dynamics, advice, and psychology, Hussey has managed to amass an avid following of 1.7 million followers on Instagram, 3 million subscribers on YouTube, and 3 million followers on TikTok – Gen Z’s favourite social media channel. Such a level of success is of course only possible for gurus like Matthew Hussey and others (see Paul Brunson, head of global research at Tinder, and Esther Perel, leading relationship psychotherapist) because of the enormous power of social media, coupled with one other major factor.

The subject of mental health has until very recently always been a taboo within most cultures, which still largely subscribe to a traditional ideal of strength or virtue as being stoic and not emotional – the latter being perceived as a sign of weakness. However, now that public opinion is beginning to shift towards a more understanding view of this topic, the impact on modern relationships is gradually coming to fore. Younger ‘woke’ generations are increasingly choosing to view vulnerability as a strength and to count a partner’s capacity for good communication skills and emotional maturity as a key desirable trait when dating. Combined with the widespread, candid online discourse surrounding relationships and mental health that is ongoing, Gen Z are being furnished with new opportunities that previous generations did not have access to.

In the past, if you were going through difficulty in a relationship, you would generally seek out advice from friends and a select family member or two that you felt close enough with. However, you might not be as forthcoming as you would like for fear of any shame or judgement that certain topics could provoke from your peers. You also wouldn’t be able to sit down for an hour or two at whim with a leading relationship psychotherapist to get their perspective on your problems unless you happened to be very wealthy or well-connected. In contrast, Gen Z can search for content today that is specific to whatever issue they are dealing with, no matter how personal or intimate, and can also spend as much time as they like absorbing a professional opinion on the subject at hand from whatever videos, articles, and Podcasts are available.

Although the value of wisdom from previous generations is still as pertinent as ever, it would appear that real progress is now being made within the field of building and maintaining healthy relationships. There is no longer as much shame or peer pressure to conform to ‘traditional’ relationship ideals and the greater honesty and transparency that has been ushered in amongst today’s youth has only empowered them to better identify and foster connections that work best for them. For those who do decide that marriage is something they want to pursue, they may well be better informed in making that choice than their predecessors were.

At Grayfords, we understand how nuanced the dynamics of a relationship are and we pride ourselves in being able to meet our clients wherever they find themselves in this capacity. If you are looking for assistance with anything from prenups and co-habitation agreements to divorce or separations, our expert solicitors have a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with family matters. Don’t hesitate to book your free consultation today to find out more about how we can help.

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