By Jesse Singal
The Science of Us
Originally posted August 2, 2016
When it comes to millennials and sex, there are two narratives going on at the moment, and they clash pretty severely. One, expressed in the form of panicky think pieces about Kids These Days, argues that because of the rise of dating apps, a reduced emphasis on commitment, and various other factors, young people are having casual sex at a higher rate than ever before, and this may be causing psychological problems, particularly for young women, who — so the story usually goes — don’t get as much out of casual sex as the guys they are hooking up with.
The other narrative is that, well, the kids are all right. Even assuming there is something wrong with safe, consensual casual sex (and the proper answer to that question is it’s complicated), some researchers who track generational differences in behavior have found something that might surprise the panickers: if anything, today’s young people are hooking up less than members of past recent generations did when they were the same age. In an article published last year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, for example, Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and Ryne Sherman of Florida Atlantic University wrote that, among adults, the “[n]umber of sexual partners increased steadily between the G.I.s and 1960s-born Gen X’ers [with Boomers in the middle] and then dipped among Millennials to return to Boomer levels.” That is, millennials, on average, appear to be having sex with fewer people than Gen-Xers did when they were at the same age, and about the same amount of sex as the boomers did when they were in their younger years.
The article is here.