Millennials have a reputation for many things: they are lazy, have no vision for the future and only think about parties and selfies – these are just a few of their unfair labels. A new study has found that 20 to 24 year-olds have less sex. What’s going on in the beds of Generation Y? Our author takes a closer look at millennials and their relationship to sex…
Sex and Millennials: It is really that bad?
As with all studies and popular theories, intimate topics and content are click-bait and for every study that claims one thing, there is another that claims the opposite. I think it is quite natural that sexual behavior changes between generations, as societies and social customs are not rigid. In fact, they are subject to constant change.
Nevertheless, it is worth taking a quick look at the sex lives of the younger generation in order to recognize any negative trends early.
Public Enemy No. 1 – the media
One of the most powerful influences in our society is the media. In this topic, social media plays a particularly contradictory role. Although it has never been this easy to get to know new people and to communicate with them, this communication has become increasingly virtual. Additionally, unrealistic beauty standards are spread like propaganda across Instagram and other platforms – adding ever increasing pressure on self-esteem. Insecurity and the pursuit of perfection can drive young adults into sexual inertia.
Nicole Engel, a noted psychologist and our relationship expert, also sees the mixed blessings offered by contemporary media:
“We are living in a time when sex seems liberated down to the smallest points, when there are countless experts on the topic, as well as a time when the internet is an open platform for all sexual preferences and the media speaks openly on formerly taboo topics. This is wonderful – why would you continue to discuss something like this behind closed doors? However, people often find it very difficult to deal with the most intimate parts of their own life, and this includes young people. The media and the internet suggest that polyamory, open relationships, or even the wildest sexual activities are more common than ever before. This increases pressure on young people to perform as if they have tried everything already at a young age, and this pressure is very normal among peers.”
Sexual Overload – overwhelmed by too much sex
You don’t have to be any kind of web sleuth to watch porn online. The easily accessible and unfiltered path to porn creates an unrealistic version of eroticism and sex in the minds of millennials. Erotic trade fairs, at which there are even live shows, were probably unthinkable 20 years ago. Even the widespread commercials create illusions that are far from everyday sexual experiences. This form of desensitizing could be the reason that many young people avoid intimacy. Nicole Engel, our resident sex-therapist, sees a connection here:
“These practices are often not comparable to the sexual maturity of some young people. They don’t necessarily help to build an emotional bond with a partner, or even to deal with your own individual preferences, nor how to connect with yourself, your body or the other person. Often an inability to connect or a lack of sexual fulfillment is the result. So this could be another cause for why sex becomes less of a priority. Additionally, the pressure to live up to the sexual versatility reinforced by the media means that some young people do not want to get involved with this. This could be due to fear of not meeting these supposed standards, so they avoid becoming sexually active.”
Sex and millennials: please don’t jump to conclusions!
However, could it be that Generation Y is maybe a little deeper than we assumed? Maybe young people just don’t want to get into bed together so quickly. Maybe they prefer to date a little longer before jumping in head first. Being sexually selective is a perfectly legitimate way of thinking and can lead to more thoughtful and sustainable behavior. In addition, it is also highly realistic that young adults first interact with their sexuality alone before sharing it with a partner.
I think that masturbation and prioritizing your own needs is common amongst millennials and they may be ahead of the game in this regard. This should be at least considered – before we go adding another label to Generation Y.