Social media apps and cultural advancements are leading to American millennials having less — but ultimately better — sex.
Most people think that millennials, due to hookup culture, are having sex like bunnies. But truth is, we’re not. Studies have shown that we are actually having less sex than any generation before us.
A 2014 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that Americans are having sex an average of nine times less per year than they did in the 1990s. While the “marriage advantage” is allowing couples to have twice as much sex as single people, the study also found that couples are having sex 11 times less per year.
This decline in sexual activity was most prevalent in college graduates and people who live in the South. The study speculated that the decline in sexual activity was a result of cultural shifts and an increase in social media usage.
“In the age of Tinder, people are having more cybersex,” Amanda Pasciucco, a certified sex therapist, told CNN.
Psychologists speculate that people who are single use social media and dating apps as a replacement for in-person sexual relationships in order to explore their own sexuality. But the ability to explore what they do and do not like is leading millennials toward better sex when they do have it.
“It’s hard to explore another person in a safe environment when both of you know the other might leave at any time and for any reason,” said Joy Pullman, a writer for The Federalist. “Millennials are renowned for fearing risk. It’s one of the main factors in their fear of commitment to marriages.”
Pullman speculates that millennial’s fear of risk leads to a fear of commitment, which explains why younger generations are more comfortable with “cybersex” than the long-term relationships that older generations were expected to commit to. This probably accounts for those age 70 and above having more sex than they did in 1989.
Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, told The Washington Post that, compared to the generations before us, we as a society are not as concerned with establishing a physical connection over an emotional one. In a digital world where thousands of possible relationships are at our fingertips, people can be pickier about who they choose as sexual partners.
This ability to do so may be the result of the recent increase in female empowerment. More than 40 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 60 have reported using a sex toy and about 12 percent masturbate with a sex toy at least once a week.
“If it can’t be a stellar experience, they’d rather not bother,” said Holly Richmond, a certified sex therapist. “They know they can go home to great porn and high-quality toys that deliver grade-A orgasms.”
Psychologist Margie Nichols explained to CNN that compared to previous generations, women view sexual relationships as more of a choice than as a societal duty.
“It makes sense that women in relationships might be losing their sex drive and saying ‘no’ more,” Nichols said. “As opposed to my mother’s generation that just spread their legs and composed a shopping list in their heads during sex.”
Pullman explained that women are particularly disinclined to engage in purely sexual relationships because they live in a world where hookup culture makes people feel like a used condom.
The study considered that the women’s movement has also lead to younger generations getting married at an older age, further decreasing the amount of intercourse as sex drives peak for everyone in their 20s.
Another contributing factor was the increased use of antidepressant medication, which can decrease a person’s interest in having sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that by 2014 one in every eight Americans over the age of 12 was using antidepressants.
While Americans are having less sex overall, they are having less safe sex too. The CDC reported that the highest number of sexually transmitted diseases ever recorded was in 2016 with more than 2 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.
At the end of the day, while the number of us having sex is evidently down, the fact that we are still college students with sexual desires is not changing. Having safe and emotionally healthy sex is more important that the amount of sex we have and can ultimately lead to better sex.
We live in a world where HOOKUP culture makes people feel like a used condom.