Are you a young man out there who’s feeling like your sex life isn’t quite up to par? Well, don’t worry: it might just be that you’re in the midst of a national trend. Recent studies show that men under 30 are having significantly less sex than their parents’ generation did at the same age.
Researchers don’t yet know for sure what’s causing this decline in sexual activity, but there are some theories. Some point to the changing cultural norms around sex, while others argue it’s because of increased access to online entertainment and growing misogyny toward women.
Whatever the cause, if you’re a young man who’s eager to get your sex life back on track, there are plenty of things you can do. Understanding these studies and how cultural factors impact sexual behaviors is the first step toward making positive changes
First, let’s get into the statistics behind this decrease in sexual behavior.
What Surveys Say About Sexual Inactivity
From the headlines and online discourse surrounding recent sexual inactivity, you might think it’s only men that have seen a decline in sexual frequency. However, these trends are seen in both American men and women across studies.
One study from 2021 observed trends from 2008 and 2018 in partnered sex and solo masturbation in young people. Researchers found that adolescents and young adults under 30 are engaging in less penile vaginal intercourse, anal sex, and oral sex across the board. Additionally, fewer adults participated in both partnered masturbation and solo masturbation. There was also an upward trend in adolescents reporting they had never engaged in sex at all.
Declining sexual activity has continued into the 2020s. In fact, the 2021 General Social Survey found that 26% of young people engaged in no partnered sexual activity over the past year.
No matter how you spin it, it’s clear young men are having less sex. Let’s look at the theories researchers have about why this may be the case.
Theory 1: The Rise of Social Media and Online Entertainment
Some researchers propose young men are having less sex because they’re spending more time on their laptops and phones. Social media and online entertainment can be incredibly addictive, leaving little time for real-world relationships or activities. It provides a distraction that continues into our downtime. Instead of having sex before bed or when we’re bored, young adults can scroll Tik Tok or binge their favorite TV show. While there is nothing wrong with engaging in online fun, it becomes a problem when it replaces social interaction, and sex falls under that umbrella.
When the results of these studies were first announced, many wondered if young people may be getting most of their sexual gratification from virtual sources instead of engaging in partnered sexual activity. It’s no secret that as the internet has expanded, so has access to pornography.
In spite of increased accessibility, research revealed that people who watch pornography are more sexually active than those that don’t. This suggests that, while porn can be a source of sexual pleasure, it’s not the sole culprit of declining sex rates among young people.
Theory 2: Poor Communication Skills
Another issue that could be contributing to the decrease in sexual activity is a lack of communication skills. In recent years, many people have skipped out on valuable lessons in empathy and emotional intelligence. As a result, they may feel intimidated by the idea of initiating sex or communicating with potential partners about what they do or don’t want.
Without these essential skills, it’s easy to get stuck in self-consciousness when attempting to have intimate relationships with other people. Men, in particular, have difficulty expressing their emotions because of how they are socialized. According to Psychology Today, young men struggle to understand, process, or describe their emotions more than women. To make matters worse, it’s become normalized for men not to communicate their emotions, and is often encouraged as a way to be “more masculine” and independent. Because of this mindset, many young men avoid being emotionally vulnerable with their potential sexual partners, which makes getting into bed together difficult.
Theory 3: Low Income and Employment Rates
The decrease in sexual activity may also be due to financial insecurity. Among adult participants in a 2000-2018 survey study, unemployed young men were less likely to have had sex in the past year than those who worked full-time jobs.
In recent years, young people have faced enormous economic challenges that have put a strain on their ability to form romantic relationships or engage in sex with partners. With rising costs of living and stagnant wages, many are struggling to make ends meet. It’s hard to focus on fostering a romantic or sexual relationship when you’re worried about making rent or affording groceries.
In addition, unemployment rates among young adults remain high compared to other age groups. When people lack steady income, they often move back in with their parents or search for roommates instead of being able to afford their own place. This makes it harder to find privacy for sexual activities and can limit opportunities for socializing outside of work. You can’t go on dates or meet people through hobbies or activities you enjoy if you can’t afford them.
Theory 4: The Increase of Rough Sex
A shift in attitudes towards sex could also be playing a role in the decline. In recent years, there has been an increase in young men and women engaging in rough sexual behaviors, particularly in college students. This type of sex can involve various activities like light spanking, hair pulling, and choking. It can also include more violent behaviors like slapping and punching. While it can be enjoyable for some people, it can also put individuals at risk of harm due to inexperience.
Rough sex requires communication and understanding between partners about boundaries and expectations. You should never engage in rough sex without receiving explicit consent from your sexual partner. Do not use toys like floggers, handcuffs, or nipple clamps unless they agree. Without that knowledge, one partner may experience physical pain or emotional distress during the act. Consequently, this may lead them to avoid sexual activities altogether as they feel scared or unsafe around their potential partners.
Theory 5: Young Women Have Raised Their Standards
A fifth potential theory is that young women today have raised their standards and are demanding more out of their potential sexual partners. According to 2019 Pew Research survey, 56% of women have trouble finding a man that meets their expectations, compared to 35% of men. Additionally, the majority of single women are uninterested in pursuing a romantic or sexual relationship. Only 38% are looking for a relationship or dates, which doesn’t leave great odds for the 61% of interested single men.
Why the disparity? In previous generations, women could not own their own bank accounts, open credit cards, or pursue higher education. This meant that they had to rely on men financially and did not have the same power dynamics in relationships as they do today.
Now, women can be economically independent and place greater value on finding partners who are emotionally available, communicative, and respectful of their boundaries. As such, young people may be less inclined to engage in casual sex because it does not align with their values or meet their expectations for what a fulfilling sexual experience should look like. By demanding more out of potential partners, young women are empowered to make conscious choices about who they choose to engage with sexually.
How Men Can Change the Statistic
Young men can help change this statistic by understanding how their behaviors and attitudes impact their sexual experiences. If you aren’t having sex by your choice, let Romantic Adventures help you adjust your strategy. Here are some ways you can decrease sexual inactivity:
Understand That Sex Isn’t “Owed”
At this point, you’ve likely heard the conservative pundits and so-called “alpha males” beating their fists over being “deprived” of their right to sex. Not only do these voices fail to understand the cultural shift towards greater respect and communication in sexual relationships, but they also perpetuate the idea that sex is something owed from women to men.
Women do not bear the responsibility of men having less sex.
As we’ve mentioned before young women are less interested in relationships and casual sex than their male counterparts. In fact, research has shown that women are happier being single than single men. All that to say, it’s men who are more bothered by not having sexually intimate relationships, and it’s up to men to close the gap.
Young men should also strive to understand and respect the boundaries of potential sexual partners. If a woman tells you she is disinterested, believe her. Don’t try to pressure or guilt her into having sex with you. For any sexual encounter, it’s essential to get elicit consent from your partner. This means that both parties are willing and enthusiastic about the prospect of having sex. Without true consent, one person in the equation may end up feeling violated or hurt by the experience. Additionally, ensure you have sufficient knowledge of safe sexual practices when engaging with a potential partner to protect against STDS and unintended pregnancy.
Remember, women talk to women. If you push boundaries with one, others are bound to hear about it. Build your reputation as a respectful man, and it will only benefit you.
By respecting boundaries, men can create safer spaces for women to explore their sexuality without fear of judgment or violence. If more people adopted this mindset, we could see an increase in sexual activity while also improving safety and respect within our culture.
Work On Your Communication Skills
The truth is, many men are afraid to open up or talk about emotions or sex. This could be due to the feeling of vulnerability associated with discussing sexuality, as well as the fear of being judged by their partner. However, communication is key in any relationship and when it comes to sex, it can make all the difference. Openly talking with your partners about what you want and need helps establish a level of trust that makes sexual experiences more enjoyable for everyone.
Additionally, young men should consider how they approach women when seeking out potential partners. Are you respectful? Kind? Understanding? Or are you aggressive and objectifying in your approach? Make sure you focus on understanding how you are affecting the other person. If the woman expresses disinterest, move on.
It’s also important to remember that therapy is a great tool for improving communication and understanding. If you’re having difficulty engaging in conversations about sex or relationships, therapy can help you identify and address these issues in a safe environment.
By making an effort to communicate honestly and respectfully with potential partners, men can increase their chances of having a mutually fulfilling sexual experience. So take a step back and see if there’s anything you can do to improve your communication skills before seeking out new partners. You can also check out the Art of Charm, a group that helps men build confidence and connect with others.
Prioritize Your Partner’s Satisfaction
It is essential that sexual pleasure is not a one-way street. While straight men have orgasms during sex 91% of the time, straight women only reach their climaxes 39% of the time.
Too often, sexual encounters are focused solely on the orgasm of the male partner, leading to sexual frustration for women and a lack of sexual satisfaction. The Orgasm Gap is a stark reminder that sexual pleasure should be shared by both parties, and that men need to make sure they are prioritizing the sexual satisfaction of their partners.
Don’t assume that all women reach orgasm in the same way. While some women climax from direct clitoral stimulation, others prefer to be touched through the hood of their clitoris or to have pressure applied to both sides of the clit. Your last partner may have love being fingered, but your new partner may prefer the heel of your hand against her. Other women may need a vibrator to go over the edge. Treat every encounter as a learning experience in sexual pleasure and ask questions. We know this can feel awkward in the heat of the moment, but it’s definitely less awkward than leaving your partner unfulfilled.
If you’re unsure what to ask, think of things like the pace and pressure of your movements. Your partner may want you to go faster or be oversensitive to firmer strokes. Importantly, don’t make your sexual partner feel like you’re on a clock. Feeling rushed or like her orgasm is taking too much time for you will take her completely out of the experience. And sexual satisfaction is not just about orgasms, either. Work to make sure your partner experiences sexual pleasure from the full range of sexual activities, whether that’s through oral sex, massage, or masturbation.
Advocate For Reproductive Rights and Sexual Health
Because abortion access is more limited and birth control methods are continuously being targeted by right-wing lawmakers, sex is riskier for women than ever. Young men should become familiar with their state’s laws on abortion and contraception access to ensure they’re helping support women’s right to choose, including advocating for affordable birth control options. Voting in support of reproductive rights gives women more freedom to embrace their sexuality without sacrificing their health or security.
More Change, More Sex
Young men may be having less sex, but that won’t be true forever. With a little effort and understanding, they can build stronger relationships and increase their sexual satisfaction. Whether it’s through better communication or advocating for reproductive rights, men can reclaim their sex lives. It’s time to get back out there – and Romantic Adventures has everything you need when you’re ready.
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