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4 Reasons Why Americans Are Having More Sex Than in the '80s

by
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.
4 Reasons Why Americans Are Having More Sex Than in the '80s
One-nighters are becoming more of a thing. Photo Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds/Adobe Stock

If the late 20th century invented free love, the 21st century is taking it to new heights. Americans are having a lot of casual sex, according to an infographic created by sex psychologist Dr. Justin Lehmiller. At least, they’re having more than they did 30 years ago.

Lehmiller’s graphic, which uses findings reported by the General Social Survey, maps out America’s shifting attitudes and practices surrounding sex. And if you think that our country has been throwing caution to the wind, you’d be right. Here’s a breakdown of Lehmiller’s chart:

1. More Sexual Partners

The average number of sexual partners has increased by more than 57 percent. Whereas Americans averaged about seven in 1988 to 1989, they had 11 in 2010 to 2012.

2. More Casual Sex

No one familiar with Tinder or OkCupid will be surprised at this finding. While only 26.7 percent of Americans reported having casual sex in the course of a year in the ’80s, 37.9 percent reported engaging in one-nighters in 2012.

3. More Friends With Benefits

Is nothing sacred? More than 41 percent of Americans recently said they’d had sex with an acquaintance in the past year, compared to only 32.1 percent back in the ’80s.

4. Americans Are More Accepting

Lehmiller’s chart also demonstrates that attitudes toward sex in America are more accepting than they used to be, especially in regards to same-sex marriage and premarital sex. Check out the infographic to see how much they’ve improved:

Casual sex and sexual partners are on the rise.
Casual sex and sexual partners are on the rise. Photo Credit: Dr. Justin Lehmiller

Some Things Never Change

Lehmiller’s chart explains that two aspects of Americans’ sex lives saw little change in the past 30 years. About 92 percent of Americans said they had sex with a regular partner in the ’80s, compared to 93 percent now.

Also, the number of people paying for sex is still relatively low — as far as they're willing to admit. Approximately 1.8 percent of people copped to it back then, and 3.2 percent are saying they’ve done it now.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

If people are having more sex, education about contraception is more important than ever. Male and female condoms are a go-to for casual sex and the only forms of birth control that protect against sexually transmitted infections. For more options and information, check out this article about finding the right birth control for your body.

Related: Why Millennials Are Having Way Less Sex Than You Think

What Do YOU Think?

Were you surprised by any of this information? Do you think these shifting trends are good, bad or neutral? Let us know in the comments section!

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