Relationships Redefined

A look into relationships today through twelve different couples at the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Photography & Writing by Riley H. Brennan

When Googled, a relationship is defined as “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected or the state of being connected.” Historically, when hearing the word “relationship”, one may think of the romantic relationship between two people created when they have decided to commit to each other. However, has this idea of relationships changed in recent years? 

In today's society, views on sexuality and gender have become more fluid and less defined. Generationally, people in college today are more open to allowing those around them to explore the different possibilities in self-identification. Has this new openness changed the way relationships are looked at today? Are relationships still thought of as “traditional” and what does that mean to be in a “traditional” relationship in 2019? 

While laughing Olivia Ruffin described her relationship with Adam Hipps, “I would say it’s me being super, super affectionate and Adam just kind of taking it, but also secretly enjoying it." Pictured is Olivia Ruffin and Adam Hipps. 

“I think it’s something we never had to question. It just kind of happened and then it was always like that," describes Haleigh Oakes when asked about her relationship. Pictured is Haleigh Oaks and Jessica Caughron. 

“When I think of a traditional relationship in 2019, I’m thinking [of] people that need a presence on social media, all of the time," stated Caroline Martin regarding traditional vs nontraditional relationships. In a society driven by our constant use of technology, it is no surprise that social media has made itself a prevalent part of today's relationships. 

Social media-driven relationships are not uncommon with posts hashtagged #instacouple reaching 1.1M or #couplegoals at 21.5M. “People are more in love with the idea of being in love, but aren’t focused on finding that person and what that actually feels like. They’re worried about getting that Instagram pic and going to that location so they can pop off but they don’t care about the little things,” explained Miranda Matsanges.

“He’s my best friend,” said Olivia Hodge. “We were always cool with each other. On that top of that since we started dating we can talk to each other on a deeper level,” added Matthew Jose. Pictured is Olivia Hodge and Matthew Jose. 

“Chaotic love,” said Josh Nee and Elysabeth Martin in unison after going back and forth on words to describe their relationship. Pictured is Josh Nee and Elizabeth Martin. 

For many college students, social media is the start of a relationship. With dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Grinder, etc., meeting people online is more widespread than ever. “Relationships definitely used to be seen as [if] there was a set way to do things. You asked someone out in person, you go pick them up, ring the doorbell, meet the parents, open a car door, go out to dinner, or something like that. Now relationships are, oh I saw you on Tinder. You wanna fuck? And oh we fucked and I kinda like you a bit, so I guess we should hang out or go out to dinner together. I think it’s a lot more of a casual process…” explained Eden Nielsen.

"I think the whole entire concept of online dating and dating apps have flipped the game," began Noah Evans. "Before there was this whole idea of courtship and nowadays it’s so easy to just meet a person on your phone before having to go out and meet them.” 

“Before you had to be ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ or whatever, but now people are so much more casual about it and they don’t feel the need to define anything,” says Olivia Ruffin. 

“I would say comfortable, loving. I mean after two years you can just be yourself around the other person and secure. Secure in who I am and who I can be and knowing that it’s always going to be okay and he’s going to be there for me,” described Kenan Gopffarth. Pictured is Kenan Gopffarth and Dylan Taylor. 

“She showed me the importance of the ambiguity of a relationship,” explained Caroline Martin when describing her relationship. Pictured is Caroline Martin and Morgan Rizzo. 

The transition to the casual process in which many college students approach relationships leads to a lack of definition. The terminology around dating has adapted to the casual way in which youth now think about relationships, such as the term “talking”. 

“The whole phenomenon of ‘talking’ when you’re like actually dating somebody…” started Haleigh Oakes. “Talking is the new dating,” finished Jessica Caughron. 

“The ‘define the relationship’ conversation is happening less often and much later, if ever and so like there’s like this big long limbo period of where it’s kind of a person you’re dating and kind of just a person you hang out with,” explained Kenan Gopffarth.

“We have our rule that you don’t go to bed mad. Because we are long-distance,  because we have done it over different countries, it keeps us from fighting for long periods of time, as well as from ignoring each other. Part of being long-distance is a lot of communication. Without that rule, I don’t think we would have lasted as long as we have," says Alyssa Advano when talking about her relationship. Pictured is Alyssa Advano and Rutvij Khandekar. 

This lack of definition and interest in commitment within today’s youth leads to the question, has this lack of commitment extended into a negative view of commitment or is today’s youth simply too focused on their individual futures to focus on a relationship?

Elysabeth Martin ponders the idea of today’s relationships stating, “I’m not sure if it’s a millennial thing or a Gen Z thing but why can’t we as a generation find love, and also finish our education and have a full-time career?”

“We as millennials [Generation Z] are like, we want to focus on work, we want to focus on ourselves and becoming the best individual possible,” explains Alyssa Advano. “There is a little bit of a stigma against relationships. I think that good relationships in college have adapted to the point where yeah you are still attached to somebody, but that doesn’t mean that person is necessarily tying you down.”  

“Both of us like to be considered. I’m Miranda, I’m Lily, and we’re just in a loving relationship,” described Lily when discussing their distaste for stereotypes or labels. Pictured is Lily Shapiro and Miranda Matsanges.

“We’re just best friends who are also girlfriends," said Ann when describing her relationship. Pictured is Ann Johnson and Danni Taylor. 

Adapting one’s relationship is an idea pushed by many young couples today. Not only adapting to fit their needs regarding a career and a future but also adapting to fit them as individuals. 

"Just talking with people and having conversations about how they want to view and set up relationships has changed, especially with people gravitating towards gender fluidity and different sexualities," explained Olivia Hodge.

  

"Now people are more exposed and going deeper into all the different kinds of relationships we can have,” said Caroline Martin. The increasing amount of information on non-traditional relationships has allowed those types of relationships to be considered an option for an increasing number of couples. 

“We get to see each other a couple of months out of a year and that adjustment after seeing each other having to go back to being long-distance that’s what is the worst and takes the heaviest toll on you,” explains Rutvij. Pictured is Alyssa Advano and Rutvij Khandekar.

Josh Nee stated, “Millennials and Gen Z are pushing the boundaries of what love and relationships are. We’re all fighting for equal rights now. Ideas are pushed. Concepts are created.” 

The way modern generations define a relationship has changed. The methods in which they are meeting, communicating, acting, and feeling are all being affected by the emergence of new technology, as well as a more open mindset. Exposure to different types of relationships continues to grow and as a result, the acceptance around all types of relationships grows. 

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© 2020 By Riley H. Brennan