No, Millennials are not having loads of mad sex. We prefer watching box sets
Published 12/08/2016 | 02:30
Every generation reserves the right to say that young people have gone to the dogs when a new wave of hedonistic youths take over at the coal face of culture.
With hook-up apps like Tinder and Grindr now just a download away, you'd imagine that young people are having more sex than ever before. Non-Millennials have assumed Generation Y has been racking up sexual partners like new versions of iPhones. In all fairness, how could they think otherwise? Well, we're not.
A new study has found that Millennials are actually having way less sex than our parents did at the same age. US researchers carried out a hefty social study of almost 27,000 people across several generations and found that young people born in the early 1990s are three times less likely to be sexually active than their parents.
Fifteen per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds reported having no sexual partners at all since they turned 18. Members of Generation X, born in the 1960s or 1970s, were asked the same question at the same age, and only 6pc reported having no sexual partner.
Another survey of 33,000 people found that Millennials will have fewer sex partners during their lifetime than Generation X and Baby Boomers. That's right, we will not only have fewer notches on our bedposts than our parents, but even our grandparents. In fact, the only other generation to report having less sex than Millennials were those born in the 1920s.
Of course, this is likely to be because fewer of us in our twenties are married or in stable relationships than a generation ago. But because we're single, you'd think we'd all be out there making the most of the opportunities offered to us by dating apps and the liberal attitudes towards casual sex which were hard-won in the 1960s and '70s. We aren't, so could there be more to it than that?
"This study really contradicts the widespread notion that Millennials are the 'hook-up' generation, which is popularised by dating apps like Tinder and others, suggesting they are just looking for quick relationships and frequent casual sex," says study co-author Dr Ryne Sherman. "Our data shows that this doesn't seem to be the case at all and that Millennials are not more promiscuous than their predecessors."
Dr Sherman and co-author Dr Jean Twenge suggest that Millennials' sex lives could be impacted by two factors: property (or lack of it) and porn. Many young people now live with their parents well into adulthood. And the easy availability of alternative forms of entertainment, like porn, is potentially distracting Millennials from sex.
Does this research also indicate that better sex education is working, ask academics, or are young people scared of diseases? Hmmm. Everywhere you look, on screens big and small, it seems like everyone's having loads of mad sex. But despite being exposed to more sex than ever before, it seems like the youth of today aren't actually doing it all that much. Despite the fact that we've got the tools at our fingertips to get it if we really want, the old saying 'nobody's having as much sex as you think they are' seems pretty apt.
Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with waiting longer to have sex - or declining to engage in casual sex altogether. Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families, observes that the trend could actually reflect Millennial women's increasing sexual empowerment. Speaking to the 'Washington Post' she said: "As people have gotten much more accepting of all sorts of forms of consensual sex, they've also gotten more picky about what constitutes consent. We are far less accepting of pressured sex."
"This generation appears to be waiting longer to have sex, with an increasing minority apparently waiting until their early twenties or later," says Twenge. "It's good news for sexual and emotional health if teens are waiting until they are ready."
Paradoxically, it also could be that increasingly lax attitudes about premarital sex make it, well, a little less sexy. Back in the 1960s and '70s, having premarital sex felt like breaking a taboo for someone you loved. It was an incredibly daring thing to do. Today? It's just something Mum and Dad used to do.
Personally, I think Twenge might be giving us too much credit by mistaking our laziness for something more significant.
My generation just prefers staying home in our pyjamas with Netflix. Older generations might think this is boring. We don't care.