“They’re hooking up”
“They’ve got more freedom and access to information on safe sex and birth control”
“They have multiple intimate partners”
“They are more interested in flings rather than staying committed”
Do these statements sound familiar to you? Often, we hear our elders make similar remarks about the millennial generation. And why wouldn’t they? Movies and TV shows encourage the hookup culture, there are apps like Tinder, Grindr, Bumble that offer the prospect of casual dating, or a “fun” date with a stranger, with no strings attached. Similarly, there are multiple platforms on the Internet that cater to the lustful souls, sexting isn’t frowned upon anymore, in fact, it has become the new normal, shame-laden words like polyamory and BDSM have become household words, and the media doesn’t shy away from portraying physical intimacy as something that’s a necessity (1). With a few exceptions, of course, the world has become more tolerant of intercourse than ever before. So, naturally, one would assume that the Millennials are getting down and dirty more than those of the same age group from earlier generations, right?
Wrong! It’s quite the opposite.
According to a study published by Florida Atlantic University, more and more millennials (who are aged between 20-24) have confirmed of having no sexual partner than those at the same age group born in the 60s, 70s, and 80s (2). If you’re in doubt, the millennials are those who are born between 1980 and 1994. In the age when it takes the same amount of time to get a bedroom date as it takes to hail an uber, it’s quite shocking to believe that younger Millennials are in fact having less sex than their older peers.
What Does The Research Say?
Contrary to the popular notion that the millennials are all about one night stands, hookups, and casual dating, the research says that teens and younger millennials are launching their bedroom life much later than the previous generations did. The research that studied more than 16,000 people found that one in eight were still virgins, unsullied, at the age of 26. Seems like, for the younger millennials, #netflixandchill really means watching Netflix and nothing else. Damn, and we thought that it was all about getting lucky!
“You would expect, based on the popular notion that with apps such as Tinder, it’s a group that is looking for hook-ups and not long-term relationships,” said Sherman. “[But] what we are seeing is this group is less likely to hook-up, so to speak than previous generations,” said the co-author of the research, Ryne Sherman.
The authors of the research say that this trend is essentially a result of a so-called cohort effect that indicates a change in sexual behavior between generations. While experts, like most of us laymen, had assumed that the “Tinder Generation” and “The Snapchat Generation” made people more promiscuous, people who are now in their 20s are more than twice the times more likely to abstain themselves than their predecessors, Gen Xers. The research further finds that 15 percent of these Millennials reported that they hadn’t traversed the roads of pleasure (3).
What’s The Reason For This Changed Sexual Behavior?
Millennials are known to do things differently. They document their life through selfies, they drown themselves in sweat, and not alcohol, they eat more avocado toast and are more concerned about equality than ever before. Adding to this list of the different behavioral pattern is the comparative sexual inactivity. So, what’s the reason?
- The Role Of Economy
If reports were to be believed, such a high rate of sexual inactivity was last seen in the 1920s, the era of the Great Depression. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the economy has a role to play in the plummeting rates of celibacy. An economic downturn is bound to delay adulthood. In this generation, adults are living longer with their parents and are having delayed marriages, which could be a probable reason for the late-bloomers. In fact, some have even termed it like the Sex Recession! However, an observation made by the research shows that there seems to be a battle of sexes, where men are the ones who are missing out more, at a high rate of 28 percent celibacy, compared to women at 18 percent (4).
- A Sign Of Female Empowerment
Today, when partners aren’t just sharing households but also household chores, women are more aware that a good intimate relationship doesn’t have to be based on gender roles and sexual mores. They choose what they want, and if they want. Women feel more empowered and are more in control of their sexuality.
- Other Forms Of Pleasure
There are plenty of online opportunities that Millennials indulge in. Porn is just one of the many options that people indulge for self-pleasure. Social media and dating apps also play a role here. Even the mere act of dirty texting or “video chatting” someone counts as meeting one’s social needs without actually being with other people. Looks like the new mantra is less casual intercourse and more of casual sext.
- Fear Of Intimacy
A group of analysts have surmised that overexposure to sexual content and pornography, has led to a fear of intimacy (5). Sometimes, fear of this intimacy also leads women to “fake it.” According to a report, more and more commitment-phobic millennials are shying away from physical encounters (6). The culture of hypersexuality has led to a sense of fear in them, and thus, men and women are more conscious of their bodies, their performance, and their reputation.
Although a session between the sheets might not be a taboo topic to discuss between friends (and family, maybe) anymore, the act in itself is losing popularity among the younger Millennials. We’re not too sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. What do you feel? Let us know in the comments section.
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