Fewer weddings and more liquid love: this is how couples in Spain arrive this Valentine’s Day

Neither in wealth nor in poverty, neither in health nor in sickness, much less until death do them part. In an increasingly emotional society, couple relationships change goes hand in hand with the increase in life expectancy, new technologies, the transformation of values ​​and the evolution of gender roles. All these factors generate a great diversity of affective-sexual unions which affect stable projects and result in fewer marriages and more celibates.

“Eyes, look for the last time. Arm, give your last embrace. And the lips, which are the doors of breath, are sealed with a last kiss”, said Romeo before drinking the poison when he believed Juliet dead. However, it is not necessary to go back so far in time or to seek such an extreme – and arguably desirable – outcome to understand how relationships evolve.It’s much simpler. Young people do not want to follow the example of their parents and they are inclined to experiment and have more partners throughout their life, according to a study by the University of Malaga, led by sociologist Félix Requena and funded by the BBVA Foundation.

People want to continue to pair up, but in a different way than previous generations in a digital society where “the art of living together” will be reformulated, consider the authors of the work. Thus, the emotional need to experiment is likely to lead to a wide variety of relationships, with increasing social legitimacy, although, as expected, this philosophy will also be associated with increased singleness, frustration and feelings of solitude.

It is a scenario that the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman began to sketch at the beginning of the 21st century, when defined the concept of liquid love describe relationships characterized by a lack of solidity, warmth and a tendency to be increasingly fleeting, superficial, ethereal and with less commitment.

farewell to marriage


Among the changes reflected in the study, one of the most relevant is that related to the perception of marriage, which ceased to be a unique and ritual model of a couple to make room for a varied map of relationships centered on the private pact. The members of these unions define the type of link they will have, what the rules of their privacy will be and whether or not there are red lines in it.

Another of the big ones affected by these transformations is romantic love, which, although always present, coexists with other concepts. Among them stands out emotional individualism and even the so-called fast love, which makes the couple an object of consumption. In this sense, the eroticization of everyday life stands out, which means that the accumulation of sexual experiences is perceived positively in both men and women, more in the line of Don Juan Tenorio de Zorrilla, than of Romeo and Juliet.

New technologies are contributing to a large extent to this change, which has led to a “the matchmaking market revolution” and have multiplied its diversity and typology. These tools have also induced, with the decline in the number of children and greater incorporation of women in work outside the home, a tendency towards egalitarianism.

Age differences

However, this evolution is not the same in all age groups. Thus, the new sentimental relationships of young people are characterized by greater freedom, but also more relative uncertainty. both durability and life dynamics, since there is no predetermined sequence to follow. The rituals that organized social life in this area are modified and there is a dissociation of three traditionally closely linked elements: sex, reproduction and marriage.


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It is precisely in youth that the existence of two tendencies in couple formation is more clearly appreciated. On the one hand, they feel the temptation to meet more people, quickly, with whom they can experiment and experience intense relationships. On the other, they face the effort and sacrifice of building unions where they give up some of that individuality. Moreover, in this important group, the change produced in perception of sexualitywhich is in the initial stages of these links and incompatibility in this area can lead to rupture.

In older couples, these differences with their ancestors are less important, although the authors point out that the arrival in this age group in the years to come of the generations protagonists of social change in Spain – born at the end of the 1950 – makes the analysis particularly interesting. An example of the evolution of this population are ruptures, which have increased recently and this process has been normalized for emotional reasons, since its main reason is the lack of love.

Different models of couples

This evolution is also reflected in other aspects of the couple. Thus, in Spain, one person in five is childless (22.7%). Traditionally, marriage was the preliminary step to procreation, but today this idea has softened and the very bond between the two members of the relationship takes center stage. Some they renounce in a conscious and planned way to have offspring to avoid deterioration of the union as a result of the baby, difficulties in labor, reduction of personal freedom or overload. They generally have a university education, greater job stability and economic autonomy.


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Another of the modalities of the couple put forward by the authors are those without coexistence. These, he says, represent very well the characteristics of 21st century relationships, with tendencies towards individualism, while striving to maintain communal aspects. The reasons why they live apart are different: youth, economic reasons, to maintain their independence, because they are not prepared or because of work circumstances.

Living together or not, with or without children and of one age or another, in general, couples deal with breakups more normally, which currently occur mainly for emotional reasons. Lack of love, monotony and infidelity are determining factors, compared to reasons related to economic reasons, addictions, having married very young, or not fulfilling the marital roles, more typical of pass.