Sex Talk, With Millennials: Part I

Let’s talk about sex.

I mean, let’s really talk about it.

Millennials and sex are two discussion points that seem to go hand in hand, after all. We are, if anything, a generation seemingly famed (or shamed) for a cultural embrace of casual sex, bar-borne encounters and the onslaught of Tinder/Bumble dates (both good and bad).

But, this leads me to the question — What are our sex lives really like? Are we really talking about it enough? As much as we often celebrate our sex and sexuality on social networks and over drinks with friends, are we truly comfortable discussing our sexuality, our preferences, our desires, our needs or our insecurities (sexual otherwise)? Are we really having more sex? Are we having more orgasms? Are we confident in the bedroom? Is casual sex coming at the price of intimacy? Are we all satisfied?

Basically — Are we all on the same page, or are some of us reading totally different books?

After all, we exist within what has been, so far, interpreted as the peak of stigma-free, sex-positive culture and imagery. We are deemed the more accepting, open generation. But having access to that kind of freedom and social acceptance doesn’t come without its own learning curves, questions and, at times, anxiety. Because ultimately, being on the path of least resistance to sex doesn’t mean that experience comes without friction.

Personally, I’ve always been of the mindset that, if we’re having sex, we should be talking about it. A lot. We should ask any and all questions, settle into debates, address the more sensitive topics and ultimately just get comfortable with the conversation surrounding the act we’re so motivated to experience. And as our generation’s dating culture continues to evolve, I’m continuously fascinated with the way in which it shapes and moulds our respective understanding and interpretation of relationships, love, intimacy, sex and the exploration of our sexuality.

So, naturally, I decided to bombard my social network with all those questions we all (I would bet) have considered, or even touched on, to get a real sense of how Millennials feel about their sex lives right now. Here’s what I found:


1. Dating Apps = More Dates, But Are They Improving Our Sex Life?

According to the masses, no. When asked, 67% of those polled said dating apps have not influenced their sex life in a positive manner, while only 33% said they have. Think of it this way — if dating is like fishing, mobile dating apps have opened the floodgates to accessibility. We’ve essentially ‘upgraded’ from fishing in a small pond to a freakin’ Great Lake brimming with eager fish. While this enhances perceived ‘efficiency’ around dating, it doesn’t necessarily improve the quality of said dates (or sex, in this case). It becomes almost too easy to keep casting for more fish, rather than investing continued energy in one catch.

Often termed the ‘paradox of choice’, it appears that dating apps present us with an interesting new conundrum — having too much access to dates, accelerated ‘intimacy’ and sex. 

2. So We’re Having Sex, But What About Our Sexuality?

This is where things started to get interesting. When I asked, “How comfortable are you talking about sex/your sex life or sexuality?” 82% said Very and 18% said Not Always Comfortable. However, when I followed that question up with ‘Do you feel like you frequently explore your sexuality?” Only 37% said Yes, and a majority 63% voted Not Enough. Finally, I asked “Do you feel comfortable/confident asking for what you want in bed?” to which 69% said Definitely and 31% said Not Exactly.

All in all, I found this to be an interesting divide in answers, considering each question dealt with (essentially) the same concepts. If you ask me, this begs the question — If we’re comfortable talking about our sexuality and asking for what we want in bed, why are so many of us not exploring our sexuality? 

  1. 3. The Age-Old Question: How Do We Feel About One Night Stands?

I touched on this in one of my last dating articles and it garnered a pretty even split in terms of response, so of course, I had to revisit it. This time around, when asked about one night stands, 60% of those polled said Why Not? while 40% said Not For Me. When asked “Have you had a one night stand?” 79% said yes and 21% said Never. I followed this up with “Have the one night stands you’ve had been predominantly good experiences or mediocre (or otherwise)?” and interestingly, 75% voted Meh while only 25% voted Good/Great.

So, most of us are having them (or have had them, in the past). But are we loving the experience? For most of us it seems one night stands are leaving something to be desired.

4. How Many People You’ve Slept With is Your Business, and Your Business Only

It seems the millennial masses (77%, to be exact), don’t want or need to know how many people a partner has slept with when it comes to a new relationship. When I continued on to ask “Would you answer that question honestly?” 68% said Yes (Although I question the honesty here) and 32% said Probably Not.

But, while we’re on the topic of one night stands and sexual partners, let’s take it a step further. If you really like your date, do you avoid sleeping with them early on? Interestingly, 55% said Go For It, while 45% opted for Wait It Out. Seems we are a pretty divided group on that one. But what about if your date sleeps with you on the first date? Does that negatively affect your consideration of them as a potential partner? According to my polls, only 20% said Yes, while 80% said Definitely Not (because if you hit it off, should it really matter?)

5. Let’s Cut to the Chase — What Is the Worst Thing Someone Can Do in Bed?

Although I don’t have room for all the answers received, these were some of the most popular responses:

– “Say someone else’s name”
– “Be selfish”
– “Fall asleep” (I thought this was a joke at first, but it was a hilariously common response)
– “Not listen to their partner or be receptive to their partner’s needs, too”
– “A lack of, or rushed, foreplay”
– “Being noticeably distracted/not present, or faking it”
– “Explicit comparison of you to someone else or a past experience (ie. Telling you they’ve had better)”
– “A lack of confidence”
– “Not communicating what they actually want”
– “Pressuring you in any way, whether into sex itself or a certain act/position or scenario etc.”
– “Not being open to feedback, whether that means giving or receiving it”
– “Making you feel insecure in any way”
– “Not respecting boundaries”
– “Bad hygiene… self-care is important!”

6. Are Millennials Really Having More Sex? Or Do We Just Get a Bad Rap?

** Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado plays in the background **

As much as the media loves to pinpoint our generation as the perpetrators of an ultra-casual, promiscuous, free-for-all “dating apocalypse,” did we really earn that association? According to recent data published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviours “Millennials hold the most permissive sexual attitudes of any generation, though they chose to have sex with fewer partners than Gen X’ers did at the same age”. So, are we even really having that much sex? Who do we believe? The Ivy-League sociology studies or the adorned and spirited explanations of weekend conquests shared by our @barstoolsports loving neighbour Chad and his bros down the hall? (I kid, I kid… mostly).

Well, why don’t we ask the Millennials themselves:

“Media perceptions aside, do you really think millennials are having more sex than previous generations?” — 36% said Yes and 64% said No

“Do you think millennials get a bad rap/unfair reputation when it comes to current dating and sexual culture?” — 69% said Yes and 31% said No.

“Are you happy with the amount of sex you’re having?” — 40% said Yes while 60% said More Would Be Better

Generation reputations aside, if so many of us wish we were having more sex (in this era of accessibility and permissive attitudes towards sex), what’s the hold-up? I have some theories (both in the realm of relationships and casual encounters), but I would be curious to put those to the test of public opinion. Ahem, another poll (or three) may be coming your way.

Stay tuned for Part II…