For Millett, an accumulation of disappointments has driven serious romance low on her agenda.She is enjoying traveling and being single, scared of getting involved with someone who might hold her back."I don't know how people do it, how people stay married for 30 years," Millett said.Yet Halpern-Meekin cautions against too much hand-wringing about ambiguity."I think it's important that we not mistake something like there being messiness at the beginnings and endings of relationships with the idea that there are not relationships anymore," she said.Others feel the term "dating" produces too much pressure and prefer to call it "hanging out."A "perfect storm" of variables have conspired to create generation ambiguity, Stanley said.One is cultural, he said, as the first generation of children to grow up witnessing mass divorce (now in their 20s and 30s) worry that relationships are so risky that they constantly hedge their bets.
Often one person hopes the inconclusiveness means the relationship is rekindling, while the other just wants to hook up until they find someone else, she said.
The most common question she gets on her forum is from women saying "let me tell you these 87 things that happened, and can you tell me if he likes me."The ease of shopping online for new partners, the social acceptance of diverse romantic arrangements and the disappearance of labels like "going steady" and other public markers of relationship progression add to the dating confusion.