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Why Millennials Are Having Way Less Sex Than You Think

author image Hoku Krueger
Hoku Krueger recently graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature Studies and a minor in French Language Studies. During her time there she wrote for the Occidental Weekly and interned with The Maui News.
Why Millennials Are Having Way Less Sex Than You Think
A new study finds that more than twice as many millennials ages 20 to 24 reported having no sexual partners since turning 18 as Gen Xers. Photo Credit: mikhail_kayl/Adobe Stock

People love to talk about how totally sex-crazed millennials are — with their hookup apps and provocative dance sensations, they’re easy targets. But the truth is that millennials are having way less sex than you might think.

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Fifteen percent of millennials ages 20 to 24 reported being sexually inactive since turning 18, whereas only 6 percent of Gen Xers said that they were sexually inactive during that time. This is according to a new study conducted by Jean M. Twenge, author of “Generation Me.”

Twenge also found that millennials reported having fewer sexual partners than both Gen X and baby boomers in a previous study. These studies prove how sexual activity can change from generation to generation. But why the change with the millennial generation?

Although researchers can’t say for sure what has caused this shift toward sexual inactivity, Twenge suggests a number of possibilities. One involves a generational turning toward individualism.

“Millennials are more accepting of premarital sex than any previous generation, yet have had fewer sexual partners than Gen Xers.” Twenge tells EurekAlert. “This is consistent with their image as a tolerant, individualistic generation accepting others’ choices and making their own.”

Technology might also be a factor. “If people are spending more time on their phones and on social media instead of meeting in person, they’re less likely to meet someone in person to have sex with.” Twenge tells LIVESTRONG.COM. “You can meet people on an app, but that’s not something everyone wants to do.”

One possible explanation for millennials' sexual inactivity is their more frequent use of technology to socialize.
One possible explanation for millennials' sexual inactivity is their more frequent use of technology to socialize. Photo Credit: clownbusiness/Adobe Stock

Another possible explanation is that young adult millennials are more likely to live at home and marry later than previous generations, meaning they're more likely to start to having sex later.

This slower transition into adulthood means, Twenge conjectures, that the U.S. will follow the same social patterns seen in certain countries in Europe, such as Switzerland and Germany, where marriage is more often viewed as optional and people have children later in life.

And one final fun fact: members of Generation Z (or current teens born in the early 21st century) also seem to be having less sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk behavior Survey, the percentage of U.S. high-school students who'd had sex dropped from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015. An indication that the decline in sexual activity at a young age could continue.

Parents, you must feel relieved.

What Do YOU Think?

Were you surprised to find out that fewer millennials reported having sex in young adulthood than Gen Xers? Tell us a story about an older person accusing younger people of being sexually promiscuous. What do you think this all means for American culture?

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