Millennials and Generation Z are having less sex and going on fewer dates, is this really a good thing?
Young people seem to be taking it slow, real slow when it comes to finding any romantic partner. Whether it could be an inebriated hook up at a party or looking for a partner for life, fewer young adults are having sex and many are getting married later than their parents. At first, this may seem like a good thing, a revisiting of traditional ideas of marriage, but the reality is nothing close. Many experts argue that the decrease in carnal desire is due to social anxiety, screen time, and hookup culture that has left many teens and young adults feeling lost.
Take a look back 40 years, and the idea of less sex and less intimacy, outside of marriage, was encouraged. In fact, this was not just promoted from a religious standpoint. Young adults deciding to get married later, and ultimately hold off childbirth till they are at least 21, has been proven to reduce the likelihood of one falling into poverty. But then came the Millennials.
Millennials are anyone considered to be born from the 1980s to the early 2000s. They are defined by their aptitude to learn fast-paced technology such as smartphones and computers. Technology was not the only thing that was affecting how they were raised.
The “Sexual Revolution” was a slow-rolling boulder that started in the 1920s with the culture of the flapper. The Revolution did not crescendo until the 1960s when it was paired with the hyper-promotion of the individual. Millennial parents were indoctrinated into a culture of “body positivity” with a heightened, and almost narcissistic belief in the individual. They embraced the idea that if it feels good, it must be good. The fast-moving bolder now morphed into the prevalence of a hookup culture translated through apps such as Tinder and Bumble. While the Sexual Revolution brought many positives, it has done a lot of harm.
Compared to their parents, Millennials and the beginning of Gen Z, look like a bunch of nuns. Even though the media and current culture encourage “experimentation” and “sexual liberation” as core meanings of the embodiment of youthfulness, college adults are engaging in the exact opposite. There are now twice as many virgins over the age of 18 as there were in the 1960s. According to a study published in The Journal Child Development, which analyzed responses from 8.3 million teenagers between 1976 and 2016, found overwhelmingly, that today's teens were less likely to go on dates or have sex. Compared to Millennials, only about 41% of Gen Z high schoolers reported having sex in the early 2010s as compared to 54% of Millennial high-school students in 1991. According to the CDC, about 39 percent of US high schoolers were sexually active in 2017, compared to nearly 48 percent of high schoolers in 2007. Generation Z is set up to be one of the most sexually immature generations ever recorded.
Past generations were able to move past their social insecurities in a fairly simple and straight forward way; they just did. Video games, smartphones, Tinder, and other instant streaming platforms provide young adults with ever-increasing excuses not to conquer their insecurities. Nervous about talking to women? That’s fine, just stay home tonight and binge-watch every Game Of Thrones season...again.
If that brave young adult actual makes it off the couch, to a bar, and somehow overcomes the odds and finds a potential love interest, sex is expected. In a study by Match.com, 34 percent of singles had sex with someone before the first date. If you are surprised by this, don’t be. The American youth of today have been told for years that “what feels good is good” and who doesn’t enjoy sex! Many just want to skip the wait or the work it takes to cultivate a relationship, and get straight to the lovemaking.
But we all know that too much of a good thing is bad. A Canadian study of 138 females and 62 male students in college found that men regretted sex for physical reasons, such as attractiveness, but women’s regrets focused on the shame of the act. Furthering the divide, in a study of 832 university students, only 26 percent of women compared with half of the men felt positive after a hookup. Nearly half of women polled felt negative about the experience. It is clear that hooking up has its consequences and maybe just because it feels good, it does not mean it is.
Mistakenly, we are taking the wrong lessons from the increasing insecurities many Millennials and IGen are feeling. Columns such as those in the New York Times encourages us to copy the “slow road to love” that young adults seem to care about. Columns such as this actually make the claim that the youth of today are making a conscious effort to not be sexually intimate because they are so wise. While choosing to have less sex and potentially wait till marriage can be good, choosing to not be sexually active because one is too engrossed with social media and other streaming services is not a practice that should be emulated or encouraged.
Many college freshmen walk into their first day of orientation expecting to hookup, all the time. Turns out that 90 percent of college students say their campus is characterized by hookup culture. They see college as one giant closed environment to “get it on”. However, only 20 percent of college students hook up regularly, and one third don’t hook up ever.
It is evident that our society is disconnected from the reality of young adults’ sex lives, and those same kids are feeling the consequences of the system we have built. Smartphones and the internet have done contradictory work by both promoting a hookup culture while making kids sexually immature to the point that fewer young adults even decide to meet one another. We should not be fooled into thinking that young adults are having less sex because it is a conscious decision or some calculated plan to find the best partner possible. Millennials, and now IGen, are being set up to fail, and the worst thing we can do is keep encouraging behavior that is damaging.