millenials and gen z are having sex, but we're just too poor to date
Don’t get it twisted: we’re totally DTF.
Raise your hands if you’re bored of reading about all the things that millennials and Gen Z have allegedly killed off. Apparently, we’ve killed cheap beer, mayonnaise has been victimised by us and let’s not get started on the housing market and avocados.
But one statistic that always felt incongruous with our experience was the suggestion that millennials and Gen Z aren't having sex. Considering how much time people spend swiping and glued to Grindr, it didn’t quite align with figures that purported to signpost a decline in sexual activities among young people. Nevertheless, the rise in free online pornography, changes to how we define relationships, smartphones and social media were all blamed for this decline.
However, it doesn’t seem to have painted a full picture. According to a study conducted by online dating site Match, advised by Justin Garcia, a sex researcher who directs the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, all that’s changed are people’s priorities. The study, which polled 5,001 US adults and is in its ninth year collecting data, showed that young single people were having regular sex, with most respondents claiming they’d had sex within the seven day prior to being surveyed.
But rather than random hookups, young people are actually on the search for love. "What we're finding is that young people are interested in love and are taking it quite seriously," said Justin Garcia. Indeed, 70% of Gen Z respondents and 63% of millennials said that finding a steady relationship was their end goal. There’s optimism there, too; most respondents said that they were optimistic that they’d find the one.
The thing holding young people back in their quest for love isn’t the blurring of lines that apps like Tinder and Grindr have allegedly caused between dating and hookup culture (in fact, the study seems to suggest that this blending of aims actually helps deepen the dating pool). Instead, it seems that the cost of dating is holding us back from finding love. According to Match’s Singles in America survey, millennials and Gen Z feel that they need a certain level of financial security before we can settle down, with 30% of respondents claiming that their financial situation was holding them back from dating.
"Millennials are very ambitious,” Dr. Helen Fisher, an American anthropologist and human behaviour expert, told USA Today. “They are terrified of catching feelings and getting into relationships that they can't (financially or mentally) manage.”
The world of dating has also changed. While courtship between baby boomers consisted of accessible activities and affordable food and drink, many of these options have increased in price or are no longer viable choices (no, mom, we can’t go to the drive-in, ‘cause there aren’t any drive-ins). Thanks to unrealistic portrayals of dating, perpetuated by baby boomer-made media like Sex and the City and Friends, casual activities like getting a coffee can make you appear like you’re cheap and not committed to the cause. Yet, as we know, millennials have less money than older generations to spend on non-essentials and we earn around 20% less than our parents. We can’t afford to splash cash on expensive dinners, Geoff!
What this means is that young people are just taking their time to settle down, which, tbh, isn’t a bad thing. “[It’s] a positive sign,” said Justin Garcia. “That's a sign that people are taking dating and relationships seriously. They want commitment. It's not that there's any disinterest in relationships or dating or intimacy.”
So, go forth, load up the app of your choice and fret not about suggestions that we’re all going to die alone.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.