Thanks to the feminist movement, women can live a single, solo life without being seen as some sort of social pariah.
But even with this step forward toward equality, people are still obsessed about dating and finding a partner. However, marriage is no longer a requisite for social and financial security. So, what’s the explanation for this obsession? We’ve rounded up 9 possible reasons why.
Are Disney movies to blame?
In 1937, Disney released its first animated fairytale film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And in the decades that followed, Disney released a long line of fairytales, including Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.
For many millennials, these films were the earliest and unofficial education on relationships. And the biggest lesson they taught was that a happy ending equals finding love with a romantic partner.
It was a lesson that’s become deeply ingrained in our psyche, and even though these are children’s stories, there’s a good chance they’ve made a big impact on how we view ourselves and our futures.
Famous love stories
Love has been a hot topic for centuries. And some of the most famous love stories continue to influence us today. Think of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: finding and staying in love was so important that both of these teenagers are dead by the play’s end.
200 years ago, Jane Austen wrote powerful love stories too, like Pride and Prejudice, which have inspired countless movies, including everything from “Bridget Jones Diary, Bollywood, zombie thrillers to murder mysteries.
In short, we love love stories, and we love repeating them and reinterpreting them. We just can’t get enough of people finding true love. And the messier it is, the better.
Reality TV is usually a far cry from reality. However, reality TV can reveal what audiences and the general public are interested in – even if we’re too embarrassed to admit it.
And when it comes to dating shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Dating Naked, it’s clear Americans go gaga for the finding a partner – even if it’s not their partner.
Once the season ends, the tabloids pick up where the show left off and people follow the relationship with a vested interest. The same is true of celebrity and royal weddings. We love the excitement and drama surrounding a new match, and people truly mourn a break-up or divorce.
It’s safe to say that the lives of celebrities and royals don’t really impact us very much. However, we attach so much meaning and invest so much in their lives because we want to see relationships succeed.
Why? Because people are obsessed with finding their own perfect partner and making sure their favorite people have one of their own, too.
Love songs have their place in this obsession
Almost all songs are love songs, and there are millions of them. And like movies and books, most songs are repeating the same story. They’re just interpreted differently by each and every artist.
It’s safe to say that the only reason why finding love, losing love and finding love again is so important in music is because it’s important in real life.
And you might think dating shows and reality TV is ridiculous, but you could argue that these mediums are only highlighting something that’s been part of the human psyche for millennia.
Religion's hand in dating obsession
Another reason why people seek a partner is that of religious beliefs. Many faiths still believe that marriage is the sacred union between two people and that it is the next and necessary step before starting a family.
In some cases, marriage is meant to help make each partner become better – holier even. So, for some, finding a partner has a lot of spiritual importance, too.
Let's not forget about biology and evolution
Even though men and women are equal, we can’t deny that men and women are still different. Their anatomies are different, their brains are different, and their hormonal balance is different, too.
In general, men are hardwired to save and protect. For women, it’s to connect and nurture. And from an evolutionary and biological standpoint, it makes sense that a man and a woman would want to find balance with each other.
This balance isn’t exclusive to men and women though. After all, sexuality can be a fluid concept. The bottom line is that people look for another person to be the Ying to their Yang and vice versa. And whether that applies to heterosexual or homosexual couples, it doesn’t really matter.
The bottom line is, we tend to look for a partner in order to deal with the storms life puts us through and the support and love from a partner is the key to that support – the key we tend to seek so desperately since we feel this natural thrive to find a support system.
Surely the evolutionary standpoint is not the only thriving force behind wanting to find love and support in your life, but it's one of the many possible explanations that might have a tiny take on this obsession.
The social rewards of having a partner
In society, there’s a great incentive to finding a partner. Just think about it.
When you announce that you’re dating someone, or that you got engaged, or that you’re getting married, what happens? People are incredibly happy for you. After all, it’s a good thing.
But sometimes, the response moves past joy and moves to “Finally!”
In short, it seems as though there’s this unspoken relief that comes when you’re finally paired up with someone. Now, your life is complete, we almost seem to say. And since we want approval and to fit in, it only makes sense that we obsess over finding a partner to obtain these things.
Another incentive for finding a partner is the reward of a big wedding, gift registries, honeymoons, tax breaks, etc.
We seek fulfillment outside of ourselves
The beautiful thing about finding someone is that he or she can love, accept, approve of, care and protect you. But perhaps the reason why we are so determined to find someone to do these things is that we don’t know how to do that ourselves.
Self-love, self-acceptance, self-approval, self-care and standing up for yourself are all incredibly important traits. These needs are crucial for our emotional, psychological and physical wellness.
Therefore, it only makes sense that we seek out someone to fulfill them – especially if we fail to fulfill them ourselves.
We find a partner to avoid loneliness
Whether you’re introvert or extrovert, you may enjoy moments of solitude. However, no one wants to experience loneliness. It’s actually a health hazard and can increase stress levels.
But perhaps one of the reasons why we avoid loneliness and look for a partner is because we haven’t yet learned to love and accept ourselves. We struggle to know ourselves intimately. And to avoid coming face to face with ourselves, we seek out a partner.
Whether it's biology, fairytales or cultural influences – one can't deny that love is all around us and even if it's not, we'll do everything in our power to make sure it will be that way.