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The New Landscape for Love in 2017

Remember the “seven-year itch”? Not the 1955 movie with Marilyn Monroe, but the old psychological theory that explained why the average relationship tended to last about seven years. Well, turns out that the theory was only true in the last century. These days, the seven-year itch has become a two-year tickle.

For young people today, the average relationship is down to less than three years—about two years and nine months—and there are plenty of things to blame for the dramatic change. Most experts say that social media is at the core of the problem. Relationship expert and Master Hypnotist Beverly Craddock, of Hawaii Hypnosis Center, in Honolulu, says social media is certainly contributing to the challenges in today’s relationships.

“When trouble hits a relationship today, people can be instantly surrounded by hundreds of potential mates,” Beverly explains. “In the past, we would turn to a close personal friend to vent relationship frustrations, but now people tend to turn to their instantly accessible social network.”

Beverly says that more people are turning to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for support and encouragement. A user that posts about a job interview or tough exam will generally receive supportive responses from their community of “friends.”

“That quick support leads the brain to believe that we are surrounded by potential mates, especially when people on social media tend to only post the positive,” Beverly adds. “In the face of such competition, relationships tend to collapse rather than survive difficulties. Why not dump the problem and find a nice, supportive new mate—after all, other people’s relationships look so much better than ours?”

Beverly contends that the relationship challenge is further complicated by our highly urbanized and mobile society.

“Before the internet, when you were frustrated in a relationship you would turn to a friend or co-worker,” she says. “These days, we can more easily jump on the internet and find relationship advice that justifies having an affair or dumping the one we are with for what our mind thinks would be a more pleasant partner.”

Beverly says it isn’t just that people have more available options for mates out there that makes today’s relationships so difficult.

“Our brains have also become wired for constant stimulation,” Beverly explains. “From televisions to computers to smartphones, we’re a species that is constantly lighting up the stimulation receptors in our brains. We’ve gone from Hooked on Phonics to hooked on electronics. Our partners barely stand a chance against Game of Thrones or Words with Friends.”

It’s certainly a depressing trend for singles and for couples, but Beverly says no one should give up trying to find that match or fixing what’s wrong in their relationship.

“In either case, people are best served by working on having a healthy relationship with themselves first,” Beverly concludes. “People don’t make us happy or complete us. Don’t hesitate to get help through a relationship coach to put you on the right path to a healthy relationship.”

Her recommendation is to find relationships by looking for people that have interests similar to your own.

“One advantage of social media and urbanization is that you’re much more likely to find a left-handed redhead who shares your love of sushi and Star Wars. Just remember that finding someone who shares your same values will be more important than what you see on the outside.”

For those that are in relationships and trying to make them work, Beverly recommends that they rediscover the things that got them into the relationship in the first place.

“The keys to making it work are to find the connection points. When both partners feel connected and valued for what they bring to the relationship, things get a lot easier. And don’t forget to turn off the smartphone and the television because they steal that connection.”

Randy Hampton is a writer, social scientist, hypnotist and blogger living in Honolulu.

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