My generation is out of touch with love

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I have started paying extra close attention to the way the definition of love has changed over the last few decades. Over dinner the other night, my mom told me about the love story of her parents. My grandpa lived in Panama and kept a long distance relationship with my Grandma, who lived in Switzerland. He would call her every night after he got off work. But with the time difference, this would be around 3 a.m. in Switzerland. My grandma would run down three stories of stairs just to make it to the phone before it woke up her whole house. Along with the phone call, there would be a bouquet of roses delivered to her house every week like clockwork. They were able to keep a connection across an ocean.

But sometimes I wonder if my generation even knows how to form meaningful connections anymore. It seems that because of the incredibly accessible world of technology my generation has grown up in, we are losing the ability to form meaningful connections with one another, and therefore completely altering what dating and relationships look like in a postmodern era.

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher told me never to use the word "thing" in my writing because it wasn't specific enough, plus there was "a plethora of other adjectives to choose from!" Of course, I went home and asked my dad what the word plethora meant, but I immediately understood her point from the moment she said it. Now, nearly eight years later, a "thing" is an acceptable classification for a phase of a relationship. If the word wasn't descriptive enough for my fourth grade teacher, why can it determine the parameters of a teenage relationship?

We have forgotten what love truly looks like, and this is in part to the largely technological world we are living in. We care about instant gratification more than anything else. We have grown up and continue to thrive in a culture that allows us instant access to just about everything. The only problem with instant gratification is that it is addicting, and becomes a habit that then seeps into our love lives. Love isn't meant to be something experienced in an instant, but in a lifetime.

High school relationships (if you can even call them that) are a short-term fix to a longer term problem: a generation that never learned how to truly love.

The epidemic of things hasebeen going on for so long I actually started to believe it was normal. Spoiler alert? It isn't. My high school hallways are filled with things, but very few genuine relationships. It seems like everywhere I turn, guys and girls are engaging in relationships, but are refusing to call them that. As long as I can remember, the term "thing" has been coined as an actual frame of reference for what two people share. This however, is unique to my generation because we aren't as open with our feelings as those before us. This can be fixed in a few of ways.

No. 1 - If you like someone, tell them! Don't hide behind cryptic texts or methodical Snapchat response times. Just be honest.

No. 2 - Call it like you see it. If you go out every week and spend quality time with each other, I hate to break it to you, but you're dating. Don't be afraid of the word.

No 3 - Ask for what you want. If you want something more, don't be afraid to communicate this desire. You deserve so much more than being stuck in a "thing" with someone.

So while our generation doesn't exactly understand the whole relationship thing, we truly can flip the switch on our reputation of being a generation that doesn't know how to date. And I give a standing ovation to those who actually have mastered having a meaningful, true high school relationship. That takes serious talent.

So while I wait to find the boy of my dreams, the only commitment I will be making this Feb. 14 is to the heart-shaped platter of Chick-fil-A nuggets with my best friends.

- Alegra Waverley, a senior at Hinsdale Central High School, is a contributing

columnist. Readers can email her at

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