The Millennial Sexual Revolution

It’s not cheating; it’s the New Monogamy.

In most relationships, sexual or emotional infidelity can be grounds for ending the partnership. Yet with the rates of affairs and divorce on the rise, is this system built to last?

Not according to some Millennials. Gen Y is defined by its liberal attitudes, multi-tasking abilities, technological expertise and a willingness to delay or forgo traditional domestic life. It is no wonder, then, that this set is challenging conventional views of commitment.

In a piece published this week in Rolling Stone, Alex Morris asks how and why Millennials are redefining sex and commitment in the modern age. Here are some big takeaways from her fascinating in-depth look.

The New Monogamy

The New Monogamy encourages a primary committed relationship, while acknowledging that it may not always fulfill the emotional and sexual needs of both partners. You can satisfy these needs outside the relationship, as long as the primary connection is not threatened.

Raised by Baby Boomers – the generation that initiated the sexual revolution, and that is currently experiencing record divorce rates – Gen Y grew up with values of sexual freedom and without solid guidelines for how to make marriage work. These influences have crafted fluid notions of sex and commitment among adult Millennials.

Student sex is less frequent, safer, and more casual

Rates of sexual intercourse among high school students are dropping, while condom use is going up. Both genders are waiting longer to lose their virginity, and college students have less regular sex.

They are, however, more likely to have sex with a friend or random partner – the crux of ‘hook-up’ culture. They may be having less sex, but commitment and emotional connection are not necessary precursors to it. Sex exists as much for its own sake as any other for Millennials. This controversial trend has been simultaneously bemoaned and lauded as progress toward gender equality.

Technology – helpful or harmful?

The jury is out on whether technology is an important tool in the postdating world, or a damaging source of overstimulation. Millennials themselves can’t decide.

Many consider it an important educator. Despite the uproar it causes, the accessibility of porn online means that many Millennials are reaching their first sexual experiences with more knowledge than any other generation. Porn, they say, gives them a healthy sense of sexuality.

Others, however, argue that it has impaired their real-world sexual relations. Morris spoke to the founder of a Silicon Valley startup who said that his overreliance on porn has impacted his ability to interact with women.

“It’s a distraction, a detraction from more real relationships, turning to something more virtual than real,” he says.

Regardless, it cannot be denied that technology has allowed people to connect in ways that would be impossible without it – from online dating to the ability to connect with others who share their specific sexual preferences. It has been a particular boon to gay kids in conservative communities, Morris writes.

Marriage rates are dropping, but it is still an aspiration

 In 1960, 59% of 18-29 year-olds were married. Today, only 20% are.

A study conducted through NYU, however, revealed that 90% of American college kids still want marriage for their future. Despite the casual nature of their relationships, Millennials still seem to aspire to a more traditional version of commitment later on in life. They still envision marriage, family and a home in their future as a gesture of meaningful commitment. They just want it to be a conscious choice, not a set destination.

What do you think – is this an accurate picture? To read the full article in Rolling Stone, click here.

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