Embarrassing story time: With my recent surgery, my doctor limited me from anything too physical exhausting- including sex. Earlier this week, my restriction was lifted and I went on the prowl looking for something casual- I went to Tinder. I built a profile and wrote what I was looking for. I decided not to add any photos of my face but instead, tasteful pictures of my body. I received a ton of messages and singled out a handful of men, exchanging phone numbers with a few. The first guy was flirty until the point where I texted a photo of my face. He let me down easy, saying that I seemed cool but I wasn’t his type. The next guy I texted a picture of my face to ghosted me. I promptly deleted Tinder after that, feeling lonely, ugly and defeated.
Despite my lack of physical activity, I know that I’m not alone: Americans are not having sex anymore. The 2018 General Social Survey found that 23% of American adults had not had sex in the past year, an all-time high. Also, the share of people who are having sex once a week or more is on a downward trajectory: from 51% in 1996 to 39% today.
Why aren’t Americans having sex? Technology is a factor. The rise of social media and streaming video mean there are screens frequently competing for people’s attention. Technology has led to undeveloped social skills and wider societal stances that our parents didn’t experience. The sex recession is driven by, in a large degree, the decline in marriage, especially among young adults. Very few married Americans don’t have sex and quite a few unmarried Americans don’t have sex- a decline in marriage rates is correlated with a decline in the frequency of sexual activity among adults age 25 through 34.
There are the day-to-day struggles- more women and men are working to create a two-income family to stay middle class or above. People’s minds are occupied with things other than the physical connection, and that has increased in modern life (especially from the previous decades).
Experts in the study have further suggested widespread mental health issues (anxiety and depression), as well as concerns over sexual misconduct in the wake of the #MeToo movement as possible factors in the decline in sexual activity (since the launch of the #MeToo movement, my female friends say that they never get hit on in person, in public anymore).
Porn has played a role, too. PornHub, the most-visited pornography site in the United States, has seen its daily visits triple from 2012 to 2017. Experts have noted a steady climb in the percentage of young people who are either disinterested or insufficiently interested in romantic interactions with others.
All day, I’ve been reading the many theories about the Great American Sex Drought. One opinion is access to the internet has left people with average looks in the dust. Stereotypically attractive people having sex with each other, leaving the “average” and “ugly” folks in the dust because it’s so much easier for people to just ‘date up’. People aren’t settling with just anyone because there are many opportunities for them to just play the numbers while also being very particular. Meanwhile, the rejected folks are so scarred by the heartbreak and rejection that they are apprehensive about trying to find someone for themselves (which, I sadly, totally agree with. Oh, those damn social skills).
What are your thoughts about sex and dating in today’s era, dear reader? (And if you’re in the middle of the Sex Recession, know you’re not alone. I think we should start a club.)