It's no secret that people are getting married later these days than in previous generations, and in this culture of hook-ups and "modern female dating anxiety," we're at no loss for theories that explain why. Some people say today's twentysomethings are delaying marriage to focus on careers and build close friendships instead, but another explanation paints a less flattering picture of young people: apparently, they're all just a bunch of narcissists. In an article on The Daily Beast this week, writer Hannah Seligson, explores this theory, writing: "narcissism, even in small doses, has shifted courtship into a high-stakes relationship culture. Now that people think more highly of themselves, expectations of what a relationship should be like have skyrocketed into the realm of superlatives. Twentysomethings not only expect to waltz into high-level career positions right out of college, they also expect partners who have the moral fortitude of Nelson Mandela, the comedic timing of Stephen Colbert, the abs of Hugh Jackman, and the hair of Patrick Dempsey." Read: Are You Narcissistic?
But is it true that twentysomethings think more highly of themselves and have greater expectations for their lives than older generations did at their age? And, if so, is that such a bad thing? Seligson cites psychology professors W. Keith Campbell and Jean Twenge, authors of the book, The Narcissism Epidemic, who "chart the dramatic rise in the number of Americans who have a clinical narcissist personality disorder." Surveying a wide representation of 35,000 Americans, they discovered that "nearly 10 percent of twentysomethings reported symptoms of narcissism, compared to just over 3 percent of those over 65." And in an age of confessional blogging, and constant Facebook and Twitter updates, that figure isn't hard to believe. Read: Is Facebook for Narcissists?
Some believe this blatant self-regard is a product of the "Oprah school of thought," or the idea that you have to love yourself before anyone else will.
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