Study: Millennials Waiting Much Longer to Have Sex, 1-in-8 Virgins at 26

New research of young adults deemed “millennials” confirmed a continuing trend: that today’s youth are waiting longer to have sex, potentially out of a “fear of intimacy.”

A University College London study called The Next Steps project tracked the data of more than 16,000 people born in 1989 and 1990 since they were 14 years old. It found that millennials were waiting longer to have sexual intercourse than were previous generations. Interviews conducted in 2016 found one in eight millennials self-reporting that they were still virgins at age 26.

Some psychologists and researchers didn't attribute this squarely to social media, ubiquitous technology use or morality, but rather to overexposure to sex and pornography in their daily lives.

RTX27PX3 New research on millennials confirmed a continuing trend. Reuters

"Millennials have been brought up in a culture of hypersexuality, which has bred a fear of intimacy,” psychoanalytic psychotherapist Susanna Abse of the Balint Consultancy told the Sunday Times. "The women are always up for it, with beautiful, hard bodies, and the men have permanent erections. That is daunting to young people.

"The fear for young men is of being humiliated that they can't live up to that, plus the fear of exposure in your Facebook group,” Abse continued.

The results of the study echoed results from a 2013 national survey, also conducted by University College London, that found millennials had sex an average of 4.9 times a month for men and 4.8 times for women, compared to 6.2 and 6.3, respectively, one decade before. Many theories have been suggested since those results, ranging from “intimate” relationships with technology devices to fears of intimacy.

"More and more technophilic and commitment-phobic millennials are shying away from physical encounters and supplanting them with the emotional gratification of virtual quasi relationships, flirting via their phones and computers with no intention of ever meeting their romantic quarry: less casual sex than casual text," wrote Teddy Wayne in The New York Times.

Other experts mused that millennials’ “fear of missing out” (FOMO), pressure to get into academic institutions and an inability to accept criticism could also be factors driving wedges between today’s young people.

"Millennials have been so coddled by their parents and teachers that they are now unable to accept others' opinions and realities,” psychologist Lori Gottlieb wrote in The Atlantic. “Which makes it hard when, in a relationship, your reality is that you will go to the farmer's market and make a healthy salad together, and your partner's reality is Starcraft.”

If survey participants who refused or declined to answer the question of virginity were to be added, the number of millennials not having sex by 26 rises to one in six. The research also found that as today’s young people grow older, they are less likely to have sexual partners and often maintain personal independence much later into adulthood than previous generations.