Millennials may soon be stripped of their “hookup generation” label, following the recent release of a Florida Atlantic University study that shows kids these days are actually having less sex than the generation before them.
Despite the availability of dozens of dating apps which supposedly make meeting and sleeping with someone as easy as swiping right, the study, published in the Journal of Sexual Behavior, shows that Millennials born in the 90s are not as sexually active as once assumed.
It’s important to note this study does not mean young adults aren’t having sex. It simply notes that many, especially the younger ones, aren’t having as much sex as their predecessors.
The study found that Americans born in the 90s are the most likely to be sexually inactive in their early 20s, much less active than those born in the 80s and earlier. Zeroing in on subjects between 20 and 24, the study reported that 15 percent of those surveyed had had no sexual partners since they turned 18. This is quite a rise when compared with those born before them; only 6 percent of those born in the 60s reported no partners in their early 20s. The only generation having less sex in their early 20s were those born in the 1920s.
Not only are some Millennials waiting longer to have sex, they’re also reporting fewer sexual partners. The study noted that the change in younger Millennials’ sex life isn’t specifically related to the times or the decade, but the generation themselves.
While no concrete details were released on what this may mean, one could speculate that perhaps its the habits of Millennials that make them less sexually active. Let’s look at a few reasons they may be spending less time in bed together.
An increase in ambition
The goals of a 20-year-old two decades ago is much different than the goals of a 20-year-old today. With many more Millennials deciding to be education and career-oriented rather than family-oriented, relationships and the pursuing of sexual partners may be put on the back burner.
An uptick in distractions
Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, oh my. The amount of digital distractions flying in the faces of Millennials is astounding. Born alongside the internet, the mind of the Millennial is wired differently than those who came before. With an extreme emphasis placed on connecting online, things like social media and content streaming may keep the Millennial mind off their partner or a potential partner.
A struggle with intimacy
Piggy-backing off online distractions, many millennials may struggle with the ability to create a natural physical intimacy, because they spend so much time in a digital space. A real gap in authentic intimacy can be created when the ease of connecting online makes it harder to connect in real life.
A surge in stress
New college graduates—the primary age of the study’s focus—are saddled with more debt than the generations before due to the rising cost of education. Marry that with the wimpy job market and you’ve got a real recipe for stress, which is understandably a serious slayer of the sex drive. Tragically, while sex can be a great antidote for sex, those freaking out about their next student loan payment aren’t likely to be making big moves.
The power of porn
I won’t even begin to dip my toe into all the different ways porn impacts those who watch it, but for now let’s just explore the accessibility of pornography. The generation that came before Millennials had limited access to porn, tethered mainly to print sources like Playboy and Hustler. Now, porn is always a click or two away, making it less imperative for someone wanting sexual stimulation to have to leave their bedroom. Just like it may be more comfortable for some Millennials to meet online rather than in a bar like the days of yore, it may be more comfortable (and a heck of lot easier) for those same Millennials to find sexual satisfaction from a stranger on the internet than a real person who may require some combination of dinner, drinks, time, conversation and intimacy before sex can be unlocked.
An increase in empowerment
Young women today may feel more empowered than those of earlier generations to say no when a sexual situation makes them uncomfortable. They may be choosier about their sexual partners because they feel their opportunity to meet people has expanded, and aswomen choose to stay single longer, many may feel more comfortable waiting to have sex at all.
The marriage delay
If it’s just a numbers game, then the number of Millennials waiting to get married could certainly be impacting their sexual activity. “Our generation is having less sex on average than our parents generation, and part of that is attributed to people getting married later in life,” says Meika Hollender, founder of organic condom company Sustain Condoms, and a Millennial herself. “Married people and people in relationships on average actually have more sex than single people because it’s more regular. Even with Sustain, for example, we’ve noticed that about 60 percent of our customers are married or in long term relationships.”
Hollender goes on to discuss that it’s not only sexual activity that’s on the decline, but safe sex as well. “The frightening thing is that Millennials are not good at practicing safe sex and are actively putting their sexual health at risk,” says Hollender, the creator of GetOnTop, a national campaign aimed at getting women to take control of their sexual health. “Only 21 percent of women aged 22 to 44 use condoms regularly, and the statistic is only slightly higher for young single men.”
So while yes, Millennials are having less sex, there likely isn’t cause for panic. If the reasons are based more on heightened selectivity and a focus on other goals, then it could actually be a boon for forming more mature relationships down the line. However, if the reason is founded on an inability to connect with each other offline, these implications could have serious emotional repercussions.