As a card-carrying GenXer, I feel no shame about my dating history.
Millennials, however, do not share my sentiments.
Two recent studies suggest that young Americans avoid partners with promiscuous dating histories. The first, Sexual History and Present Attractiveness, asserts that the older you get, the more you value sexual experience in a partner (or, perhaps, the more forgiving you become). It seems to mirror the findings of a previous study — Sexual Inactivity During Young Adulthood is More Common Among U.S. Millennials and iGen — which asserts exactly what the title suggests. That one used historic data and a far larger test pool: 25,000 respondents versus 188.
The trend may owe more to attitudes about work than sexuality: getting down to business means less time for … actual business. The fact that younger folks these days have less job security and thus more of an incentive to work hard may account for a decline in sexual activity. Not to mention that many of them are still living with Mom and Dad.
But I recall hitting a brutal recession post-college, too, and I might have had less sex during that period, but not by choice. So something else must be at play here. Have kids been coddled for so long that they’re less willing to take risks, including in the bedroom? Not just in terms of health risks, but also insofar as conjugal relations force us to open up, cede control and generally make ourselves more emotionally vulnerable. Melissa Warnke of the LA Times recently penned an op-ed that echoes that sentiment, suggesting that her generation needs to let go a bit more.
In the words of the late great Burt Bacharach: “What the world, needs now, is love.”