Sekkusu Shinai Shokogun: celibacy syndrome is a term coined by the Japanese press for a country that just isn’t that interested in sex. But in reality it goes beyond Japan’s borders, it is affecting today’s youth, the millennials (born starting in the 1980s) and iGen (born in the ’90s) who are less likely to be having sex than young adults were 30 years ago.
According to new research published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, today’s 20-year-olds are having less sex than the previous generation. About 15% of adults between the ages of 20 and 24 reported having no sexual partners since they turned 18. Just 6% of the previous generation said the same at that age.
Ryne Sherman at Florida Atlantic University, who is a co-author of the research, said it goes against popular notions that the internet has made casual sexual encounters more common. “You would expect, based on the popular notion that with apps such as Tinder, it’s a group that is looking for hook-ups and not long-term relationships,” said Sherman. “[But] what we are seeing is this group is less likely to hook-up, so to speak, than previous generations.”
The authors say the trend is primarily due to a so-called cohort effect, meaning that sexual behaviour appears to have changed between generations.
While the study itself did not examine why young people today are more abstinent than in the past, the authors suggest the trend could be down to myriad factors.
Too busy for sex
Data from the General Social Survey found that young adults between 18 and 25 did not report “more sexual partners since age 18, more frequent sex, or more partners during the past year” than Generation X respondents.
Overall, the results suggest a win for the young adults who are not emotionally ready for a romantic relationship. The pressure is off everyone. However, “humans hit their sexual peak in their early 20s,” noted Twenge, so presumably there are many who are ready for and want a romantic relationship, but they simply have fewer opportunities.
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