Is Gen Z shedding its reputation for being a 'sexless generation'?

They are 20's and the pictures are about waking up a sunny sunday at home
Gen Z has previously been characterised as 'sexless', but things might be turning around. (Getty Images)

In recent years, Gen Z has garnered a reputation for having less sex than the generations before them. It began in 2019, when headlines lamented the start of a “sex recession” among young people.

Since then, people born between the late 1990s and early 2010s - with the oldest members of Gen Z now in their mid-20s as of 2024 - have been unable to beat this characterisation.

The label “puriteen”, a portmanteau of the words “puritan” and “teenager” started trending on social media as a way to describe seemingly sex-shy Gen Z-ers, who appeared to be “retreating from intimacy”.

Statistics showed that this generation, in particular, were far more interested in just about anything else apart from sex. Global fitness brand LES MILLS found that Gen Z-ers would rather work out than get it on, which makes dodging intimacy even more concerning.

A significant proportion of this generation even wanted less sex to be shown on TV and film.

A study published by the Centre for Scholars and Storytellers (CSS) at UCLA last year found that young people wanted to see more content focused on friendships and platonic relationships in media instead of romantic relationships.

Caucasian man and Asian woman looking each other with happiness on bed. Attractive romantic sexy couple spend free leisure time, enjoy talking together after wake up in the morning in bedroom at home.
Numerous headlines lamenting Gen Z's lack of interest in sex has given them the reputation of being sex-shy. (Getty Images)

Nearly half (47.5%) said sex was not crucial to the plot for most TV shows and films, and 44.3% believed that there is too much reliance on romance in media.

But new data from online dating platform eharmony suggests that Gen Z is ready to shrug off the lore surrounding their sexuality and libido.

According to eharmony’s Dating Diaries report, Gen Z respondents are having more sex than Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) - despite the fact that more Millennials are having sex.

Only a quarter of Millennials said they are not sexually active, but single Millennials are most likely to have sex only once or twice a month, compared to single Gen Z-ers who are more likely to have sex at least three times a week.

In fact, 5% of Gen Z respondents said they are having sex on a daily basis.

Among single respondents across the generations, Gen Z reported the biggest increase in sexual activity compared to a year ago, with 31% saying they were having more sex now. This is compared to 19% of Millennials who reported the same, while just 7% of Gen X (born between 1965-1980) and 3% of Boomers (born between 1955-1964) reported having more sex.

In an effort to explain why Gen Z seems to be ramping things up in the bedroom now, eharmony’s dating experts attribute it to a rise in confidence among this generation.

Nearly half (47%) of respondents said an increase in confidence is the reason they have more active sex lives.

Dr Lalitaa, relationship expert with eharmony, said: “These figures show the importance of compatibility and feeling confidence with a partner.

“Sex isn’t the only thing that matters in a relationship, but it is important that you’re on the same page and understand each other’s feelings and emotions.

“When we feel connected in this way and able to relax, we are much more likely to get physically intimate, whatever our age or gender.”

Perhaps more concerning than Gen Z’s bedroom antics are the state of Britons’ sex lives in general. Recent research by sexual wellbeing brand Lovehoney revealed that the UK is one of the least sexually satisfied European nations.

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Younger people have been praised for leading the way in fostering better dating habits. (Getty Images)

The global study found that 39% of Britons said they were only “somewhat” satisfied with their sex life and more than a fifth (24%) said they were categorically not satisfied. The UK lags behind Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany.

However, Lovehoney’s research also shows that Gen Z is leading the way in this area despite the low satisfaction levels overall. Gen Z respondents had the highest level of sexual satisfaction in the UK, with 48% saying they were satisfied with their sex lives.

Gen Z has also been praised for driving “better dating habits forward”. Tinder’s global relationships insight expert, Paul C Brunson, previously told Yahoo UK that Gen Z daters are setting a higher bar for relationships that all singletons, no matter how old or young, should emulate.

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