Pillow talk

Millennial women are waiting longer to have sex, compared with their Gen X peers

Teenagers hold hands as they wait for a bus in Los Angeles. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Millennial women in the U.S. are waiting longer to start having sex, according to a new study, giving 20-somethings more in common with Baby Boomers their Gen X predecessors. The delay in becoming sexually active reverses a decades-long pattern that saw men and women embracing similar sex lives, according to lead author Jean Twenge. “Millennials are taking longer to grow into adulthood,” she told Mashable.

The new study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior — and using data from the General Social Survey of nearly 27,000 adults — found millennial women (born in the 1980s and ’90s) saw the largest increase in sexual inactivity compared to their Generation X peers (born in the 1960s and ’70s.) A similar downward trend is taking place in U.S. high schools.

Women in Twenge’s study displayed the most significant change in behavior, likely due to their “erotic plasticity,” or tendency to adjust their sex lives to reflect the norms of the time. “Women’s sexuality is more malleable depending on the situation and circumstance,” said Twenge. (Men tend to lose their virginity around the same age across the generations.)

In the 1950s, the average age for women becoming sexually active was about 20 — in line with the age for getting married. But as judgment about pre-marital sex loosened, by the 1990s the average age for losing one’s virginity was 16. As mores about pre-marital sex have not changed, Twenge suggests a new reason for the delay in becoming sexually active: putting off many steps associated with adulthood, which also include marriage, home ownership, moving out of home.

It has also suggested that reports of campus assaults have made young women more cautious, and that a trend towards individualism has allowed people to focus less on social norms, instead embracing taking their own time or even being asexual.

Read the full story at Mashable.

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