Dr. Ruth said millennials may be having less sex than their parents, but they’re having better sex

Business Insider Lifestyle 0 month ago

When compared to older generations, the media tends to give millennials, people between the ages of 23 and 38 as of 2019, a bad rap when it comes to how they handle relationships and sex.

As a generation that grew up around the internet and saw apps become an integral part of the dating landscape, it makes sense that millennials' (and especially younger millennials') are believed to have fleeting and shallow romantic relationships.

The generation is also accused of being in a sexual dry spell. In a December 2018 Atlantic story about the millennial "sex recession," for instance, writer Kate Julian argued that increased screen time has created an illusion of more connection, when in reality people are very lonely and having fewer human interactions than ever before, including romantic ones.

As a result, young people are having less sex — a fact backed up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

But Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a legendary 91-year-old sex therapist who talked to Insider to promote her partnership with the hotel booking website Hotwire, has a more uplifting take on sex these days.

While millennials may be having less sex, they're having higher-quality sex, she said. And, while she agrees loneliness is a major issue, she says that's the case for everyone, not just younger generations. 

Younger generations have paved the way for more positive sexual experiences

Millennials may be having less sex, but they're having more satisfying sex, according to Westheimer. "On the positive end, I do think that there are less women who don't know what to do in order to have an orgasm," Westheimer said.

Although Westheimer didn't have a theory to explain why that is, it's possible that an increase in gender equality has empowered more women to seek what they really want in their sex lives rather than assume they have to have mediocre or bad sex.

In a November 2018 Medium article, author Jessica Valenti wrote that millennial women typically view bodily autonomy, or having complete power over what you do or don't do with your body, as a right, not a privilege. Because of that, she wrote, they're more likely to say no to pleasure-less sexual experiences.

Westheimer added that in her experience as a sex therapist, men too are more willing to speak up about sexual problems like erectile dysfunction so they can have more positive and less shame-filled sex lives.

Digital-first culture has caused relationships to suffer, and not just for young people

When it comes to connecting on a non-physical level though, Westheimer said people of all ages have some work to do.

"Now you walk into a restaurant and you see young people, and older people also, on their iPhones," rather than making conversation with each other, she said.

As a result, "the art of conversation has been lost," she added. "I am more concerned now about people not knowing how to talk to each other than I was many years ago."

Research backs up Westheimer's worry: A July 2014 study found that couples who had conversations in the absence of their cell phones reported those talks being "significantly superior" than conversations they had when their phones were present — even if those phones were left untouched. 

To improve romantic conversations and connections, Westheimer recommended slowing down and really trying to get to know someone, even if you're only in the early stages of your romance.

This concept is often referred to as "slow dating," and suggests the best chances of finding love is to focus on the quality of your matches, rather than the number of matches you make.

Tags: Insider

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