Gen X vs. Gen Z Relationships ft. "America's Dad"
We really loved introducing our Dad, Rob Lipschutz, to you on the "Taking Chances with Vanessa and Noelle" podcast! As he said in the episode, so many people know him as "Vanessa, Noelle, and Jeremy’s dad," but he's an amazing, hilarious guy all on his own.
We call him "America's Dad" because we're willing to share him. A little. You're welcome.
Of course, since the Chances App is about creating meaningful social relationships, we talked about connections and how Gen X (Dad's generation) and Gen Z (ours) approach relationships. Is it different? Or are the fundamentals of making connections the same?
Naturally, while we were designing the Chances App, we talked a lot about relationships and how we form them and evolve them over time, whether it's friendships, romantic relationships, or a connection that moves from one kind of relationship to another. We were really excited to talk with our Dad about this for the podcast and share some of the insights we all came up with while we were designing the app.
"Quantity" or "quality" relationships?
One of the first things we talked about was the Chances challenge that came from Baraka Beckett in our last episode: If you analyze the relationships you have now, do you have more quality or quantity friendships?
Noelle says being a busy UCLA college student pushed her to focus more on really special relationships. "I just don't have as much time to hang out with multiple people, especially with COVID." Vanessa said COVID kind of naturally "weeded out" her friends list, as difficult times tend to do. "The people that stuck around were my quality friends."
What about Dad? Quantity or quality? Rob said getting older tends to whittle down the friends list. "Relationships gravitate toward being there for your family," he told us.
The important thing to think about is, whatever kind of relationships you have, are they satisfying and fulfilling for you? If not, what are you missing, and how can you change the relationships you have or form new ones?
Why build the Chances App focused on relationships?
The Chances App was a sort of perfect storm of everyone's interests: Both sisters were interested in creating an app that was tailored for Gen Z, and all three of us wanted to help people form quality relationships in a less stressful way.
As we talked about in this podcast with our Dad, initiating a relationship can be hard -- that seems to be a truth that transcends generations.
Dad told us about how when he was a kid and moved to a new area, he was kind of shy about introducing himself to the neighborhood kids. His grandma became his "wingman," talking to neighborhood kids, inviting them over, telling them about her grandson. And great-grandma was good -- it seems every childhood friendship he made growing up in Pasadena could be traced back to her.
The fear of approaching someone new hasn’t really changed much. Whether it’s asking another kid to ride bikes together or asking someone to dance at prom, that fear of being vulnerable and maybe being rejected hasn’t changed.
Because starting any kind of new relationship can be scary, Noelle suggested the app be more about "social relationships" and encompass the full spectrum of ways people relate to each other, from romantic partners, to friends, to activity partners, to study buddies, to FWBs.
Also, because of the way Chances has been designed, it’s easy to take a chance on someone, knowing that only mutual intentions will be shared with each other. You get all the thrill of matching someone without anyone having to reject anyone, something that can be as uncomfortable for the person rejecting as for the person being rejected. No one likes to be the bad guy.
Building the app with his daughters was extra special, according to Rob, because in his experience, women generally "go deeper with relationships," no matter what kind of relationship they're in.
“I think with Vanessa and Noelle taking the lead, we’ve really captured the full spectrum of relationships. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Especially as COVID hit and separated people physically, we wanted to provide people with ways to connect emotionally wherever that point of intersection might be.
To fulfill the sisters’ vision of offering all kinds of connections in a thoughtful way, the Chances App had to be truly different. It was a challenge to build, but in the end, we created something we think is really special, and we’re working hard to make it even better.
Making relationships: Change over time
So what is different between how Gen X and Gen Z form relationships?
“What was your childhood like? What did you do as a high schooler, relationship-wise?” Noelle wanted to know. “Were you on social media?” Vanessa chimed in. “How was it different?”
“We have Instagram, we have TikTok, we have Zoom, Facetime … what did you do?”
You mean, “How could you possibly get to know someone if you couldn’t be distanced from them through the digital Internet, sending posts and chats and messages?” Rob said, somewhat facetiously.
It’s true, Gen X didn’t have the benefits or challenges of the digital revolution in its youth, Rob says. A lot of times, interests formed within groups, and we often relied on friends to be the “matchmaker.” If you’re Gen X, you probably remember asking a friend about a mutual friend you were interested in -- “Do you think so-and-so likes me? Could you ask them?”
When you hang out with a group, natural attractions and mutual interests sometimes lead to relationships, but sometimes not. “You’d try to find a way to spend time with them,” Dad said.
Unfortunately, when you just don’t know how someone feels about you and if they share your
interest, you might never tell them how you feel. Sometimes it was just too scary, and opportunities to connect were missed. People can still regret those missed connections years or even decades later. What’s a shy kid supposed to do?
It’s OK to have grandma set up playdates. Maybe not so cool for prom dates!
As Noelle said, “For all three of us, it’s so important that everyone feels like they have someone to lean on, especially during adolescence, high school, college, and so on. … In a way it reminds me of Chances, like our great-grandma is living on through Chances. She helps connect people and make you happy.”
Vanessa agreed: “I think that really emphasizes what Chances’ mission is. It’s connecting people…. Relationships affect everything that you do.” She reminded us of a conversation in an earlier episode where we talked about how the five most important people in your life shape who you become, so building good, healthy, fulfilling relationships is so critical.
As Vanessa said, Dad is who he is because of the relationships his grandma helped him to form, and that same role has trickled down to the Chances App and mission. “You have no idea the value that people around you will bring” -- can you really afford to miss out?
The Chances App is about people
Would grandma hear, “I’ve been replaced by an app” from all this?
Of course not! But as Rob says, in this digital age (and even more in the time of COVID isolation), people need digital solutions for connecting. “Everyone seems to be so busy, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to connect ‘naturally,’ the ‘old-fashioned’ way.”
But the key to Chances, Rob says, hasn’t changed: it’s people. The Chances App just accommodates how people meet and connect now in this new age. “It’s the people that make the App work,” he says.
Noelle told her story of the birthday party and the princess backpack -- this time it was Mom who initiated the friendship, asking if her shy little girl, new to the area, could come to a neighbor’s birthday party. Vanessa, somewhat less shy, ended up doing “The Worm” on the floor, but as Noelle says, Moms, Grandmas, friends, and now Chances can be vital to meeting people.
Vanessa took a different path to finding friends: as the new kid, she explored every group she could find and pulled in people from them all. While she feels she had a little less consistency over time, she really appreciates the diversity of her friend group.
Like Rob said in the podcast, “There are three people in the world who can walk across a room with confidence” to ask someone to dance or invite themselves into a conversation. If you’re one of those lucky three, congratulations! For the rest of us, there’s Chances.
Take a Chance
There’s so much in this podcast we want you to hear, so please take a listen if you have the time! (#DateEmAllRobby!)
But we wanted to give some of our takeaways:
Vanessa: Relationships are constantly evolving. Don’t decide to just “swipe right” on someone in a momentary decision. People have so much to offer, and what they can offer you might change over time. Let’s meet where we cross paths.
Rob: “Clothes don’t make the person.” It’s true that we often make judgments based on superficial things like clothes and shoes, but maybe we shouldn’t. With Chances, we’re trying to allow relationships to take various paths and form for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of ways. You need more than looks or shoe choices to build a real and lasting relationship.
Noelle: Relationships are hard, for everyone! We heard that from Baraka, that even this amazing, popular UCLA football player is struggling to stay connected in COVID. That hasn’t changed since our Dad was a kid, or since his dad was a kid. But it can be a whole lot easier if someone has your back, like Mom did for me or Great Grandma did for Dad, or like Chances can do for Gen Z.
The more we talk about Chances and what we’re doing to make it better, the more excited we all get about sharing it. We hope you’ll listen to the podcast, then download the Chances App and start taking chances!