Has sex gone out of fashion for millennials?

by | Apr 2, 2019

Are millennials are having less sex than ever?


Snatch the phone out of the hands of any millennial, and you will most likely find one, if not several, dating apps. I would know, as a millennial myself.

Many of us tinder-swipe our way through a bored half an hour. Nothing to do on Friday night? No problem. Gary from Watford only lives down the road and would love to take you out.

Meeting other singles has never been easier. And attitudes to sex, sexuality and dating are more open than ever. Today we can be polyamorous, gender fluid and undefined by sexuality. Embracing kink is no longer a taboo, monogamy is boring, and marriage? That outdated notion can wait.

millennials are having less sex

So naturally, casual sex must be on the rise. Right?


In actual fact, studies say millennials are having less sex than Gen Xers were at the same age.

Millennials are having less sex than ever

So, what is going on? Has sex gone out of fashion for millennials, like low rise jeans and fedoras?

It certainly looks that way. Let’s turn to some statistics to explain the trend.

In 2017, one study found, 40% of American high school students had experienced intercourse, compared with 54% in 1991.

Jean M. Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, claims that people in their early 20s are two and a half times more likely to be abstinent than Gen Xers were at that age. And that 15% had not had any sex at all since reaching adulthood.

Twenge’s studies suggest that young adults today are heading towards having fewer sexual partners than either of the previous two generations.

New research also shows millennials to be having sex later, as well as less frequently. These days one in eight 26 year old's is still a virgin.

The Next Steps project in London analysed people born between 1989 and 1990. It confirmed the notion that UK millennials are waiting longer to have sex than past generations.

Why are millennials having less sex?

So, what is causing this phenomenon that Atlantic has dubbed ‘The Sex Recession’?

The professionals are quite frankly stumped, but here are some of the theories being bandied around.

  • People are getting married later

In 1971 the average single woman in the UK was getting married at 22.6. In 2017 that had risen to the ripe old age of 30.8. For men the average jumped from 24.6 to 32.7. In the US the current average for women is 27 and 29 for men. But wait a minute, how does a later marriage age explain a decrease in sex? Aren’t we always hearing about how little sex married couples are having? I thought it was young, single people with the crazy sex lives.

Well, actually statistics show that married couples are shacking up more than singles of the same age. And logistically, that does make sense. A couple already sleeping in the same bed is bound to rack up higher numbers than singles relying on casual flings or the odd hook up.

Also, it’s in your 20s that your libido is at its highest. If nowadays, more than before, people are spending those years single, not living with a partner, it might explain this downturn in sex.

  • The internet – alternative ways to spend time

Yet another thing that has been ruined by being glued to our phones. Or have we just discovered that Netflix and chill is a lot more fun alone at home with a family bag of Doritos, than with a sexy someone?

With the internet and technology providing us with 24 hour entertainment, maybe people just care less about going out and meeting people. At the end of a long hard day who wants to actually put effort in to being social?

The internet also means people have easy access to pornography. It has been suggested this could mean people can sexually satisfy themselves more easily at home. Or equally, young people can feel intimidated by unrealistic portrayals of porn star sex, putting them off trying it in real life.

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  • Living at home for longer

As millennials we are constantly being told we will never be able to afford to buy property and that we are worse off than our parent’s generation. But do they really have one over on us with our sex lives as well?

Looks like it. With job insecurity and high rents, many people stay living with their parents until later these days. It doesn’t really need spelling out that this kind of living situation is not exactly conducive to a wild sex life.

Vice also asked millennials why they weren’t having sex. Responses ranged from having other priorities, fear of STIs and not wanting to be a ‘quick fuck’, to asexual partners, transphobia and mental health.

So, has sex gone out of fashion for millennials?

It certainly looks that way. But if it changes as quickly as the fashions, then who knows? Sex might be trending again soon.


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Hanna Greeman Contributor
Hanna is a languages and logistics specialist. She is currently living in Barcelona working as a Creative Copywriter.
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