I have suspected for quite a while now that much Internet commentary on sex relations, mostly written by GenXers and Generation Ys, is woefully out of date. As a parent of three millennial daughters, and copious amounts of exposure to their friends, I knew that somewhere along the way, young people stopped *doing it* as much as it seemed they were 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.
At first I was tempted to view my Christian daughters as faithful snowflakes, but then I noticed that their high school friends -cute young women from various religious backgrounds or no religion at all- were spending weekend after weekend exactly like my girls: at a movie together, or trying a new restaurant, or hanging out at their parents’ homes as a group watching movie marathons. Very few are dating anyone. At all.
I used to try and make this case: “No, young women of this decade are not as pursued, sexually aggressive, or sexually loose as women were during the 90’s. Many of them aren’t going out with or sleeping with anyone, not even the increasingly elusive ‘alphas’. Times have changed and whatever the reasons are that young women aren’t marrying young, the carousel isn’t among them.”
As you grow older, and hopefully wiser, you learn that there is no convincing someone of a different perspective when their entire self-worth and ability to cope with their own reality is bound up in believing a certain thing.
One of the things we have been very clear about with our daughters, for instance, is that they need to be healthy, fit, and make an effort to look as pretty as their money and genetics will allow. It’s pointless to expect any man to like what men do not like because you don’t want to be inconvenienced or deny yourself the things you most enjoy. That’s not how life works.
Conversely, the fact that many men are having a hard time finding women who are interested in them doesn’t mean that women are out screwing around with “the most attractive men”. If every attractive woman a man meets has been with several men, he should reevaluate the types of women he’s attractive to. I was an attractive woman who hadn’t slept around before marriage, and I’m a Gen Xer, the last truly promiscuous generation on record. I have three attractive daughters who have never slept with anyone!
But I digress.
The point of this excursion is that finally, the research has backed up my not-so-lying-eyes.
It’s a less sexy time to be young than it used to be, despite millennials’ reputation as bed-hoppers frolicking like the characters on “Girls.” A study published Tuesday in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior finds that younger millennials — born in the 1990s — are more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive in their early 20s as the previous generation was. Even older millennials are more sexually active than this younger group is.
Recent research also shows that, overall, millennials — people born between the early 1980s and 2000 — have fewer sexual partners than baby boomers and those in Generation X, the group immediately preceding them.
And the media lament has begun. Amazingly, even a conservative publication is lamenting it. After everything they’ve done to basically push young women onto the so-called carousel, when the rubber meets the road, they have failed.
Now, I recognize the underlying reasons for the lamentations. Because sex has been transformed from the beautiful consummation of the marriage relationship to a stepping stone on the way to marriage, even the most libertine commentators realize that this failure of young people to “connect” speaks to a deeper issue, and a potential long term demographic problem.
Those are issues which need to be addressed, and perhaps later I will go there. One of the things this “revelation” has given me as a mother is the opportunity to reinforce what I had begun to share with our daughters as they navigate the new realities of dating, or the lack thereof. Not having a guy has never necessarily indicated that something is wrong with a woman, but in this current era, that adage is more true than it has ever been. We are still prayerfully confident that the right guys will show up when the time is right.
Despite what media, movies, and music portrays as the dominant narrative:
No, not everyone is doing it.
*I have some ideas about why I think young people aren’t dating and engaging in the corresponding sexual activity which often accompanies it, but for now I’m satisfied to know I’m right about the decrease in sexual activity. If you want to know why I think it is, maybe I’ll answer in the comments.