By now, you may have heard, Millennials are having less sex these days. ICYMI, the study that revealed the info was done by the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. It found that 20-year-olds today (Gen Y) are having less sex than the previous generation (Gen X). In addition, 15 percent of adults between 20 and 24 said they had no sexual partners since they turned 18 (versus six percent among Gen X when at that age range).
What’s the deal? “Millennials and iGen are growing up more slowly,” the study’s co-author and author of Generation Me, Dr. Jean Twenge, tells Bustle. “There's a new attitude that your 20s are a time for self-exploration and that you shouldn’t settle down with one partner too early, part of a larger trend toward individualism (more focus on the self and less on social rules)."
So, even though we may hear that Millennials are often called the “hookup generation,” this study would not prove that philosophy. “The term ‘hookup’ is entirely ambiguous,” Martin Monto, a sociology professor at the University of Portland told Time. It’s “basically a nebulous term that could mean anything."
So, if sex among Millennials is down, what are the new ways Millennials approach sex? I asked some experts what they think.
1. Through Porn
“Online sexuality is booming. Instead of having sex, they’re swiping left and or right or looking at porn online.” — Dr. Michael Krychman, Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and co-author of The Sexual Spark: 20 Essential Exercises to Reignite the Passion
“There’s growing availability of Internet pornography. What we used to be able to imagine, or see limited versions of in magazines, you can find in bulk on the Internet with people with like-minded interests that can be very specific. Once Millennials have gained access to all this material, and likely become aroused and often gone further than just arousal, they find it hard to become aroused with the more ‘standard’ type of sex most partners have.
"They have seen the images, been supported by like-minded individuals, and it is like they cannot unring the mental and sexual bell. I find that instead of sharing what arouses them with their partners, they keep it to themselves, seek it on the Internet, and pull back sexually. The partner is left wondering why things changed, making excuses for them, or fearing that their partner is doing something outside of the relationship.” — Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psychologist
“Many Millennials have grown up with access to pornography. Some may say this is a bad impression and some may say it is a good impression. My experience is two-fold: It takes the curiosity out of the equation, and places anxiety in its place. We have so many Millennials that say, ‘I don't want to do that’ or ‘I am too shy’ or ‘I am too small,’ etc. I have never seen more young men afraid to perform than Millennial men: Are they good enough? Are they big enough? What should come so naturally no longer does — they can’t get an erection or maintain one long enough to have intercourse. For the women, they can’t have orgasms and have anxiety around if sex is going to hurt, and for some women the anxiety is so great that it does hurt.
When people watch porn without proper sex education to go with it, then they formulate their own ideas of how sex is going to be. They can’t talk to their parents about it, and their friends are in the same boat as them, so where do these Millennials get the balance between porn and sex education? The solution is not to take pornography away, as I think it is positive in the fact that people are somewhat more aware of what sex looks like (remembering that it is actors in a scene). I feel that we need more sex education and should spend the money having qualified sex educators.” — Dr. Dawn Michael, Certified Clinical Sexologist & Sexuality Counselor, and author of My Husband Won’t Have Sex With Me
2. Through Technology
“I think that technology plays a part, as it takes up a lot of young people’s time, but I also think that technology has affected how Millennials relate to each other. The social skills and emotional intelligence required to approach others, interact, and have those interactions lead to sex have been compromised by the large amounts of time spent on technology and not interacting with others. Thus, it makes sense that they're holding off on sex until they feel ‘safe.’” — Erika Martinez, Psy.D., a Miami-based licensed psychologist
“I think the technology age has impacted our ability to relax and enjoy one another. People are overwhelmed with multitasking and texting and emailing — they take on more than they can.” — Dr. Michael Krychman, Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and co-author of The Sexual Spark: 20 Essential Exercises to Reignite the Passion
“Yes, research shows Millennials are having less sex. However, they are much more open to (and about) masturbation. The Internet has made it easy to indulge in porn sites for sexual stimulation, and many of my patients ask questions about ways to pleasure themselves. Millennials are open to masturbation, because they can avoid getting pregnant (most want to start families later in life) or catching STDs. Millennials are notoriously self-interested. Many are putting off committed relationships in favor of pursuing their personal and professional goals. Masturbation helps relieve sexual buildup when they don’t have a regular partner — and keeps them away from potentially dangerous one-night-stand situations. Masturbation has many advantages. It improves your sex life, because you learn your body and what turns you on. It helps you have better and more frequent orgasms.” — Dr. Draion M. Burch, Astroglide TTC Sexual Health Advisor
“It’s likely that self-stimulation is on the rise and Millennials are having quickies by themselves that are sexually gratifying. They are avoiding sexual intimacy with a partner.” — Dr. Michael Krychman, Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine and co-author of The Sexual Spark: 20 Essential Exercises to Reignite the Passion
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