Well, this might surprise you: Young people today are having less sex than their grandparents’ generation, and a lot of millennials are actually having no sex at all—like, zero.
These findings come from a new study published in the journal Sexual Behavior, which looked at survey results from more than 26,000 millennials and generation X adults (roughly early 30s to early 50s in age). Researchers found that today’s young people are actually less likely to be hooking up than previous generations. In fact, 15 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds have had zero sexual partners since becoming a legal adult. Just 6 percent of generation Xers were abstinent during that same age range.
In a world where the hookup culture and Tinder dates gone wrong reign supreme, it’s not shocking that these findings are making headlines. One thing that might be contributing to the shift? Technology. “Technology can now supply us with a kind of self-affirmation that, in the old days, only sex could provide,” says Stephen Snyder, M.D., a sex therapist in New York. “Sure, sex feels good, but a lot people do it to feel valuable and worthwhile.” (Still, Some People Are Just Wired to Want More Sex.)
For better or worse, that kind of affirmation is something you could get from friends’ comments on your most recent Facebook pic, or from the hundreds of likes or follower you gather on Instagram. This allows the younger generation to shift focus to other priorities or pursue other goals besides coupling up. (To be fair, it’s also worth noting that the people in the study were asked to recall their partners from years ago, so there could be some misreporting at play too.)
Younger generations today also have a limitless supply of largely de-stigmatized porn and sex toys at their disposal that hadn’t been so readily available to previous generations. And let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to wait for the perfect partner when you can have mind-blowing solo sex in the meantime.