By Melissa Batchelor Warnke Aug 03, 5: To opt out based on fear is to lose mightily and often. I spent most of yesterday morning mulling over Tara Bahrampour's article in the Washington Post headlined "'There isn't really anything magical about it': Why more millennials are avoiding sex. Compared with baby boomers, millennials look like nuns and priests. The proffered reasons for millennial abstinence? A culture of overwork and an obsession with career status, a fear of becoming emotionally involved and losing control, an online-dating milieu that privileges physical appearance above all, anxieties surrounding consent, and an uptick in the use of libido-busting antidepressants.
Advertisement I generally jump to the defense of millennials, not just because I am one, but because I even know some. It too often feels as though we're reported on as an alien species: He was ungrateful, stupid and has never worked a day in his life, if my personal inference from watching him hold the carton may be used as a categorical analysis of an entire generation, as it will be throughout this piece, and then again in the comments section.
Advertisement Research-based trend pieces are useful in the same way polemics are useful — to the extent they provoke further discussion. I'm not a "younger millennial. So, younger young people, weigh in in the comments please and tell me what I'm missing; I'm all ears. I believe that everyone should have exactly as much sex as they do or don't want to have, with whomever they do or don't want to have it, in whatever fashion they do or don't want to have it.
My interest in this rise in abstention has to do with motivation and meaning rather than the lack of action itself. Many trend pieces are hot garbage. The trend piece is a form that's plagued by the "To a hammer, everything looks like a nail" problem. If you begin with any premise and set out to prove it, you can generally find a handful of folks in this world of 7.
That said, research-based trend pieces are useful in the same way polemics are useful — to the extent they provoke further discussion. And this research is based on a nationally representative sample of more than 25, American adults.
So here are my thoughts in brief on points made in the Washington Post article edited here for clarity. Advertisement "It's a highly motivated, ambitious generation," says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and chief scientific adviser to the dating site Match. And it's true that we live in fraught times, with massive student loan debt and decreased job security. But overwork, with all else perceived as a distraction, is no tool to cultivate joy.
The sense of caution sometimes manifests itself as a heightened awareness of emotional pitfalls. For example, many young people speak disparagingly of the messy emotional state love and lust can engender, referring to it as "catching feelings.
Noah Patterson, 18, has never had sex. Online life "ends up putting a lot of importance on physical appearance, and that, I think, is leaving out a large section of the population," said Twenge, who teaches psychology at San Diego State University. Unlike in face-to-face meetings where "you can seduce someone with your charm," she said, dating apps are "leaving some people with fewer choices and they might be more reluctant to search for partners at all. A flesh-and-blood human with flaws and personality.
Advertisement That is Patterson's takeaway. What you see is what you get. Some of these traumas are sexual. Abstinence may not be such a considered choice for everyone, though; there can also be environmental factors. For example, the use of antidepressants, which doubled between and , can reduce sex drive. Those who take antidepressants: Good on you for getting the help you need.
Find a way to understand and support flesh-and-blood humans dealing with depression. It isn't an absolute good. The problem isn't that millennials are having less sex, but that many of their reasons reveal warped values and a fear-based approach to existence.
There are many anecdotal and quantitative indications that sex among millennials is a real landmine for hurt and misunderstanding. In some ways, this hurt is heightened by the advent of distancing technologies like Tinder and texting.
But the challenge of navigating closeness with and care for others has always been a central human story. That starts by thinking deeply about what we want so that we can articulate it to another person. It continues by finding a receptive and respectful person or people to have sex with. It continues by being a receptive and respectful person.
Batchelor Warnke is an intern in The Times' Opinion section.