Saving serious relationships until after college benefits students

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Would you marry someone you met in college? Many of us would probably say no. Our parents, however, likely would have said yes. In fact, many of them probably did marry a college sweetheart.

Millennials are moving away from this dating norm. We are more and more likely to wait to get involved in serious relationships, saving major milestones like marriage and home ownership for later in life than previous generations.

This shift is occurring is for a multitude of reasons, and it’s not entirely by choice. Many of us have recently been confronted with the reality that we are coming of age in a time very different from our parents. The burden of student debt reduces the likelihood of home ownership, rent is at an all-time high across the nation and young people face the stereotypes of being “lazy” and “self-centered” in the workplace — all of which contribute to our later marriage rates. We are entering these serious relationships later because we have no choice.

That is not to say it isn’t a positive movement. Along with diamonds, football and oil, millennials are killing divorce.

According to research from University of Maryland professor Philip Cohen, divorce rates in the United States dropped 18 percent between 2008 and 2016. Cohen believes the decrease was driven entirely by young women and cited delayed marriage as a likely contributor.

Getting married later simply makes more sense to millennials, both socially and financially. The financial aspect is particularly important here at Tulane, where our graduates carry an average of about $33,000 in student loan debt. In the face of financial strife, it’s hard to imagine focusing on anything other than paying it off.

Not to mention, a serious relationship can be a financial burden itself. The National Endowment for Financial Education found that seven in 10 Americans say they spend more money while in a relationship than while single. They also found that for 70 percent of people that spending increase was at least $600 annually.

Beyond the cost of the initial relationship, what happens if you and your significant other decide to get married? The current average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is around $33,000. In a time of such financial instability as now, that kind of spending simply isn’t feasible for our generation.

Millennials are right to spend more time focusing on themselves and their emotional and financial stability before getting involved in a serious relationship.