Research Shows Millennials Are Having Less Sex Than Previous Generations

The Millennial generation has often been perceived as a group that's open to having a lot of sex—a bunch of young people who move between sexual partners as often as we change out our handbags. It appears that this might not necessarily be true after all.

According to a new study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, sexual inactivity among millennials is becoming more common.

The Washington Post reports that younger millennials—those of us who were born in the 1990s—are “more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive in their early 20s as the previous generation was”, with even older millennials having more sexually active. Millennials are “more accepting of extramarital sex” than previous generations, but have had only an average of eight sexual partners compared to 11 for Baby Boomers and 10 for Generation X, according to a previous Post article.


While millennials are still having sex, it seems that more and more millennials are delaying it. It’s not a bad thing, though. According to the Post, experts say that this waiting and being “intentional” about your sexual partner can help to create lasting relationships in the long run. In addition, Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research at the Council on Contemporary Families, told the Post that this decrease could be due to the fact that more women are feeling “empowered to say no" to unwanted sex.

But overall, what's causing millennials to have less sex?

According to the experts, one reason is that it could be the result of millennials feeling the pressure to succeed in their careers, the Post reports. Helen Fisher, Chief Scientific Adviser to, told the Post that millennials are an “ambitious generation," worried that a relationship could potentially derail their career plans.

Another possible explanation could be that social lives have become more about the screen in front of individual rather than in-person contact. Millennials born in the mid-1990s or later were the first group to come of age when smartphones were the norm. Jean Twenge, a researcher who took part in these studies, told the Post that millennials were the ones to “[start] to communicate by screens more and by talking to their friends in person less.”

This in part has lead to another reason: the focus on appearance when it comes to swiping away at potential dates. When you're using photo-based dating apps, appearance can make all the difference in whether you ever end up meeting someone in person. Twenge told the Post that this focus on looks ends up "leaving out a large section of the population.” So that sucks—let's all remember not to judge every book by its cover!


Millennials are also being cautious about date rape. With college campuses implementing “Yes Means Yes” rules, which require the enthusiastic consent of all parties at each step of a sexual encounter, some people have decided to not engage in sexual activity at all out of fear of getting it wrong, the Post reports. Some millennials are also turned off from sexual activity because they're not into the hookup culture that's common on many campuses.

So millennials may not be having as much sex as other generations, and that’s okay. We’ll get to it when we’re ready.