Millennials have acquired many nicknames over the years: the Hookup Generation, the Unemployables, the Selfie Queens, the Meme Wizards, the Tatted Up Troops… Okay, I might just be making these up now.
My point is, we’ve become renowned for a number of things – not all of them positive – with blanket statements often being used to describe an entire group of people (31.5 per cent of the population, in fact) in one fell swoop.
Now though, it seems as though those statements have been outed as more than just stereotypical. They’re actually incorrect, with one particular assumption being proven wrong by scientific research.
That assumption being we spend all our spare time swiping right on Tinder so we can shag anything with a pulse. If we were to give the Hookup Generation stereotype any substance, we’d believe millennials were spending every minute of every day arranging to meet up with different people for sex.
I’m not denying that, as a generation, we’re able to engage in casual sex in a far easier and more accessible way than others that came before us. Gone are the days of the Yellow Pages and late night trips to the phone box (or whatever people did before online dating apps came along).
Instead, we’ve got apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr to help us out. These apps have single-handedly pushed hookup culture to the fore, encouraging casual sexual encounters and one-night stands so that they’re the norm. And that’s absolutely fine, but it doesn’t mean everyone’s doing it.
In fact, millennials are having less sex than previous generations. Much less sex, in fact, if research published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour is anything to go by.
The research found young adults between the age of 20 and 24 were more than twice as likely to report they’d had no sexual partners since the age of 18 than young adults of the same age born in the 1960s.
Just over 15 per cent of the millennials polled reported they had not had sex since they turned 18 – compared to six per cent in the 60s – according to the research, which was conducted in the US and surveyed almost 27,000 people.
The co-author of the research, Ryne Sherman of Florida Atlantic University, said this research goes against popular notions that casual sexual encounters are becoming more common among millennials due to things like the internet and online dating.
Sherman said, as per The Guardian:
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. [But] what we are seeing is this group is less likely to hook-up, so to speak, than previous generations.
So why is this the case? There’s no denying Tinder and its alternatives have transformed the dating game for an entire generation – even coining terms such as ‘Tinderella’ and ‘Tindersurprise’.
But the numbers don’t lie, and no matter how many people are engaging in casual sex using online dating apps, more people aren’t. And for those people, other factors must be taken into account.
Factors such as young people who are living at home for longer, and are therefore potentially pressing pause on their sex life while they do so. Factors such as easy access to pornography, a rise in video games, and the internet in general all need to be considered when attempting to account for this lack of sex.
Which is where Netflix comes into the equation. With more than 151 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2019 – up from just 21.5 million in 2011, when Netflix expanded its streaming services internationally – it’s clear more and more of us are tuning in in our spare time.
But does this rise in popularity go hand in hand with a trade-off for sex? Apparently so, with research conducted by the Wall Street Journal via a SurveyMonkey poll finding one in four (26 per cent of) adults in relationships say they’ve chosen streaming television over sex at least once in the past six months.
Not only that, but there’s a significant difference between the younger and older generations; whereas 36 per cent of those polled aged between 18 and 38 say they’ve chosen Netflix over sex, less than half (16 per cent) of people aged 39 and over say the same.
Furthermore, while 30 per cent of 18 to 38-year-old’s say their partner has chosen streaming TV over sex, only 19 per cent of people aged 39+ say the same.
UNILAD spoke with Kate Moyle, a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist, who said part of this is because the internet has ‘completely changed the way we live our lives’.
Kate, who is also a therapist on BBC’s Sex On The Couch, explained why Netflix has become more of a priority for millennials:
A huge common connector is what people are watching. For example, on Netflix it’s a mix of education, entertainment and getting so much of what interests us in a more passive way.
Platforms like this offer us so much of what we need, also in terms of relaxation with modern life being so stressful and busy, and without the ability to switch off with us always being contactable/accessible.
The therapist went on to explain how there has been a shift in the way we use our time and focus, as the internet now enables us to meet people online and have social and sexual interactions without even leaving the house.
Sex has slipped down our priority list and is a big source of pressure and anxiety for many, meaning that it perhaps doesn’t always offer the positives that it used to – particularly when there is an unlimited amount of entertainment via our screens and online services.
One millennial who agrees with Kate’s verdict is 27-year-old Joshua Lisec, from Dayton, Ohio, who says as new parents, he and his wife now have to choose between Netflix or sex rather than ‘having it all’ – and the majority of the time, Netflix wins.
Joshua told UNILAD that once the couple put their son to bed, they usually have between 60 to 90 minutes left in the evening before they go to bed themselves, and ‘more often than not’ they end up on the couch watching Netflix.
The new dad said he and his wife are now having sex approximately once a week down from a minimum of two or three times, and that while as new parents they can’t place all the blame for this on Netflix, it definitely plays a major role.
In short, as Millennial parents it’s Netflix or Chill – not Netflix and Chill. For us, we just want a few minutes of quiet time for the two of us. We get that watching Netflix, then we’re sleepy.
For couples and singles who work two or more part-time jobs or gigs to pay bills, they’re probably experiencing something similar. By the end of the day, they’re just beat.
Netflix makes bingeing too tempting, too easy to say no to. ‘Just one more episode’. Then it’s three in the morning.
In other words, Netflix and chill has actually turned into Netflix and, well, chill. Except this time, the chilling involves PJ’s and face masks instead of sexy lingerie and candles.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).