The newest trend amongst millennials is celibacy.
According to a recent survey published in the Archives Of Sexual Behavior, millennials in their early twenties are having less sex than Gen X and Baby Boomers did when they were the same age.
This new data is surprising, especially considering that the media usually paints millennials as sex-starved, 20-somethings who are constantly looking to hook up and get down.
The new trend toward delaying sex appears to have affected younger millennials more than their older counterparts, which makes sense. Millennials born in the mid-’90s and later have never had to survive without smartphones and social media and this has clearly played a significant role in shaping their sexual attitudes.
Will, a 26-year-old law student, believes that technology has had some impact on his sex life. “I think it has been hurt solely because you have to text and texting can ruin interactions…[conversely,] I’ve learned a lot on social media about how to get with girls, so it’s probably balanced out.”
Shira, a 23-year-old college student, attributes millennials’ reluctance to engage sexually to their fragile egos. “I feel like in the old days people asked people out on dates and that’s how you had sex. I feel like nobody wants to risk rejection, they don’t want any stakes and that’s why they only have sex in very low-risk emotional situations.” She adds, “Millennials don’t ask for dates, they ask for a hangout.”
But fear of rejection and online-induced isolation aren’t the only things keeping millennials celibate. Millennials have to contend with pressures that other generations didn’t?—?crippling student debt and a desire to succeed have turned millennials into the most stressed-out generation yet. And now more than ever, millennials are prioritizing their career over relationships.
“When people say I don’t have time for a relationship because of a job or a hobby, I understand that. I feel like I’m encountering more guys who just, sex isn’t part of their life,” says Shira.
“I think everyone’s more occupied now,” agrees Aaron, 31. “Now there’s less stigma, now it’s less of a thing.”
Millennials also have the added complication of coming of age during a time when conversations about sexual harassment and consent are becoming more mainstream. As a result, they are hyper-aware of participating in or falling victim to rape culture. Many of them believe that gender roles are slowly reversing and when it comes to dating and sex, women are increasingly taking the lead.
Michael, a 29-year-old Uber driver, worries that approaching women in public to ask them out will make them feel uncomfortable. He prefers using Tinder because it ”takes away the ambivalence. You know they’re interested, so now you can have a conversation.”
Shira agrees with this sentiment; if a friend asks her on a date, she’ll go, but she doesn’t appreciate being asked out by strange men and generally prefers to initiate conversations with men herself.
Millennials have always deviated from what’s expected of them?—?they take longer to move out, get married, have kids and generally settle into adulthood. But many experts agree that while millennials are waiting longer to have sex and tend to have fewer sexual partners than their parents did, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Waiting for sex can result in stronger relationships and can limit the odds of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
So keep doing what you’re doing, millennials. It seems to be working out okay.