FREE-THINKING liberal millennials, also known as the ‘hook-up’ generation, are swiping right on multiple partners and swinging from the chandeliers every weekend, right?
The truth is actually way more vanilla. In fact, according to two studies by Mumsnet and the journal Archives Of Sexual Behaviour, those born after 1990 are having less sex than their parents did at the same age — and even coupled-up millennials are experiencing a sex drought.
One reason for this could be that millennials are more likely to be single than previous generations, meaning there are fewer opportunities for romantic liaisons. But a change in dating culture may also be behind the results.
Ruth says her boyfriend of three years avoids sex by saying he is too tired or too stressed
With the rise in mobile apps and romantic websites (Tinder, Bumble, etc) lots of relationships now blossom from virtual encounters. But by swiping, clicking and messaging your way through the dating world, you’re missing out on honing all your offline flirting skills. If you’re not adept at this sort of thing, well, it can be tricky to move conversations off a digital platform and into a bedroom.
But why are young, committed couples having less sex? Ruth, a 30-year-old receptionist living in south London, says her boyfriend of three years often avoids sex by saying he is either too tired or too stressed from his two jobs.
‘He works all day as a secondary school teacher and then supplements his income in the evenings as an Uber driver,’ she says. ‘It does make me feel unloved and unattractive when he doesn’t want to be intimate with me.’
This presents another tricky issue: society has long presented men as having insatiable sexual appetites, ready for liaisons at a moment’s notice, so when a man experiences a loss of libido it can leave both partners feeling depressed.
Sarah Berry, a psychosexual and relationship therapist based in London, says: ‘It’s often very difficult for men who do not feel they are living up to the stereotype of being preoccupied by sex. While some may have internal pressure to be manly, or even “normal” in a non-gendered way, partners can also put on pressure by taking their lack of desire as a rejection.’
For millennials, it seems, bedroom politics are more complex than ever.
Single or coupled up, how can you improve your sex life? Here are a few tips:
■ Think about how you express romantic love in other ways first — increase kissing and affectionate behaviour. It won’t always lead to sex but it lays the intimate groundwork.
■ Compliment each other and try hugging, either clothed or naked — people’s breathing can often sync during a long, close hug, which increases intimacy.
■ When declining sex, explain why and suggest something else that can be done later.
■ Either physiological or psychological problems can influence your or a partner’s libido. GPs are used to dealing with issues around this, so schedule a chat with them.