It's Official: We're Having Less Sex Than Generation X

Kelsey Clark
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Christian Vierig/Getty Images

The narrative surrounding today's young adults and sex can go one of two ways: Either we're sex-crazed heathens navigating a subversive hookup culture or we're waiting for "the one" and having significantly less sex than previous generations.

As it turns out, a new study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior lends legitimacy to the latter. Researchers Jean Twenge, Ryne Sherman, and Brooke Wells examined age, time period, and generational changes collected through General Social Surveys dating back to 1972 in an attempt to understand "sociocultural influences on sexuality and relationships," according to the study's abstract. They focused on two questions in particular: "Now thinking about the time since your 18th birthday, how many female partners have you had sex with?" and the same question, but male partners instead of female partners.

What they found may seem a bit shocking to anyone familiar with generational stereotypes: Americans born in the '80s and '90s (read millennials) were twice as likely to report zero sexual partners after age 18 than those born in the '60s and '70s. In other words, Gen X-ers were significantly more sexually active as young adults than the young adults of today. The stat is most prevalent with millennial women, who reported significant decreases in sexual activity after age 18. This stat, however, wasn't reciprocated with today's black Americans or the college-educated.

This is particularly shocking when you consider the growing number of ways to socialize ushered in with the new millennium. Between AOL Instant Messenger in the early 2000s and the dating apps of today, you'd think we'd be socializing, dating, and, by extension, having more sex than ever. Of course, there is the possibility that these inventions have had the opposite effect: They're merely distracting us from the people, and potential sexual partners, standing right in front of us.

Why do you think our generation is having less sex? Share your theories below and shop The 5 Love Languages: Singles Edition.

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