Five 'Sexually Inactive' Millennials On Why They Aren't Having Sex

'Catching a rare Pokemon is far more satisfying to me...'

It seems like every other day there is another study or op-ed trying to decode the mysterious creatures known as ‘millennials’.

From drinking less to knitting, our behaviour is markedly different to previous generations. Now, we’re abstaining from sex.

(Well, some of us are.)

A recent study claims that US millennials are having less sex than Generation X, with a larger proportion opting to be celibate altogether.

Researchers defined ‘sexually inactivity’ as those who hadn’t had sex once since they were 18. They found that 15% of 20 to 24-year-olds born in the 1990s were ‘sexually inactive’, compared to 6% of their counterparts in Generation X.

They speculated that social media and dating apps are to blame for the decline in sexual activity.

We decided to reach out to millennials who described themselves ‘sexually inactive’ to find out why they are opting out of sex.

Carey Kirkella via Getty Images


25, male, gay

How do you define ‘sexually inactive’?

Sexual inactivity is obviously something subjective that differs from person to person, for me I’d just say someone who feels like they’re having considerably less sex than peers or people the same age as them.

When was the last time you had sex?

About two and a half months ago, which I actually don’t think is that long but some people would probably think is an age. I’ve gone a lot longer.

Is your ‘sexual inactivity’ by choice or is it circumstantial?

It’s partly by choice, party circumstantial. I’m certainly not averse to the idea or deliberately celibate or anything like that, it’s more just that there are about a million other things I’d rather do than be out with some unremarkable man pretending to be interested in what I have to say, having to pretend to be interested in him.

I guess if I felt like there was nothing going on in my life then it would feel like more of a void [WAHEY] but I feel like millennials are prioritising things like work and even friendships more than relationships, so while we are more sexually liberated and it probably is easier to have sex freely and without judgement than ever before, just because the option’s there doesn’t necessarily mean people feel like they have to take it.

Not to be arrogant, but if I wanted to have sex with someone badly enough I would go out and do it, it just isn’t a massive priority for me, and full-on relationships are even less so.


23, female, straight

How do you define ‘sexually inactive’?

I’d define sexual inactive as literally no sex, no sexual interaction, no kissing, no making out, no nude swapping, no innocent sexting. Nothing, nada, zippo.

When was the last time you had sex?

October. It was a drunken shag at a friend’s house party. Nice enough, but nothing to write home about. One of those ones where you wake up the next morning a bit embarrassed, but mostly hungover.

Is your ‘sexual inactivity’ by choice or is it circumstantial?

My inactivity was at first by choice. After drunken shame shag, it was like I was internally cringing for a while, so I stopped drinking and turned off all ‘Pro Bang’ signals. However now I’m ready to roll in the deep, as it were, and I don’t know how to get back in the game. I can’t click (or swipe?) with Tinder and I’m not one for bar crawling.

I’ve never really done ‘grown-up’ dating, and I suppose I haven’t been as forward sexually as I could be, other than sending a few choice risqué snapchats.

So, while I started off my celibacy proactively, it’s now very much against my own will and I hope to kickstart my sex life soon. I think part of it is down to the fact that I find it hard to connect with people in a sexual/romantic way via social media, but with a busy work life I find it hard to meet people in real life, so I find myself at a strange sexually-frustrated dead end.


20, male, straight

How do you define ‘sexually inactive’?

I define ‘sexually inactive’ as someone who has not been sexually intimate with another person for a considerable period of time - months or years. I would NOT consider masturbation to be being ‘sexually active’ in this case, although some may disagree with me on that point. I have questioned if maybe I might be somewhere on the asexual spectrum because while I experience sexual attraction, I’ve never felt remotely compelled to act on it.

When was the last time you had sex?

For some reason, this seems like an embarrassing thing to admit, or something that will cause me to be mocked/discredited, but I have never had sex.

I feel like there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to this, or at least the assumption that most virgins are socially-awkward, ‘loners’, or have never grown up (still rely on their parents in adulthood, etc.) Therefore this is something I don’t really talk about, even with most of my own friends.

Is your ‘sexual inactivity’ by choice or is it circumstantial?

I would say that abstaining from sex is something that has been more of a choice for me - it’s not something I’ve ever sought out and I think that I would be pretty uncomfortable with it unless my partner made me feel safe and reassured.

I was raised with a no-sex-before-marriage morality, something which I’ve only really shed/evolved my opinions on in the last five years. So that was part of the reason that I wasn’t more eager when younger (in fact I was pretty sexually repressed).

The lack of sexual activity goes hand-in-hand with a lack of romantic activity; I like the idea and am an old-school romantic, but at the same time, the thought of actually fulfilling them is petrifying and uncomfortable too.

I guess you could also say that my lack of sexual activity is circumstantial, since I’ve never been in the position (though probably through deliberately avoiding those situations in the first place) that someone else has wanted to be sexually intimate and I have declined.


23, female, straight

How do you define ‘sexually inactive’?

Not participating in sexual acts involving genitals with another person or multiple people.

When was the last time you had sex?

I’ve never had sex.

Is your ‘sexual inactivity’ by choice or is it circumstantial?

I think it’s both. There are plenty of opportunities these days to have sex (clubs, apps etc) but they’re all offering the same thing - unsafe sex that is probably going to be rubbish. There are just so many risks, not only from STIs but women in particular are very aware of the dangers in going with a stranger back to their house, and have legitimate concerns as to whether they will even make it out of there alive.

Even if for whatever reason a woman was happy enough and confident to go through with this encounter, the chances are the sex will be quick and cringe-y anyway (just look at a standard opening line from a guy on Tinder). Speaking of Tinder, even the guys on the app who are interested in dating are not exempt from misogynistic under or overtones, and trying to find one who you remotely have an attraction to who doesn’t give off the vibes of a total creeper is trying to find a needle in a haystack. And trying to find a guy in his early to mid 20’s who is looking for a serious or monogamous relationship? HA!

So as those are the circumstances surround sex at the moment, I chose to abstain. Why risk bad sex, diseases, violence and creepy misogynistic guys? I’m just going to wait until I meet a guy who isn’t a creep, isn’t solely obsessed with his penis, and who can make me orgasm as well as I can make myself.


26, female, straight

How do you define ‘sexually inactive’?

I would define sexually inactive as someone who is not having sex (whether by choice or not) for a certain period of time.

When was the last time you had sex?

The last time I had sex was in March....I think! (Obviously not memorable).

Is your ‘sexual inactivity’ by choice or is it circumstantial?

My sexual inactivity is not by choice, I broke up with my ‘boyfriend’ earlier in the year and would like to find someone new, not necessarily for anything serious, could be for something fun. This is proving very difficult, I have tried all the dating apps, Bumble, Tinder, Happn, Plenty Of Fish even Guardian Soul Mates.

I (and my single friends also) are finding it very hard to meet new men, I am a feminist but also I am quite shy. I love the idea of a women walking up to men, but I haven’t got the confidence. I also think men these days approach women less and less - even on the apps I find men very disinterested and quite boring.

Perhaps it’s London. A majority of my friends who live outside of London have long-term partners or are married.

Maybe Netflix has replaced sex? All I know is catching a rare Pokemon is far more satisfying to me, than chatting to uninteresting men on a dating app right now.

*Names have been changed at the respondents’ request

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