Studies show that people, especially young people, are having less sex than past generations did. While many may celebrate this decline as a good thing, the reasons behind the drop in sex may not all be so positive. A decline in physical intimacy may potentially speak to a decline in emotional intimacy, and a struggle modern folks are having with connecting with each other.
My guest explores the decline in sexual frequency as a way into these larger cultural and relational questions in her longform cover story for this month’s The Atlantic magazine. Her name is Kate Julian, and today we discuss her piece, entitled “The Sex Recession,” on why people are counterintuitively having less sex in a time when sex is less taboo and more accessible than ever before. We begin our conversation highlighting the statistics that indicate young Americans are having less sex and whether this decline holds true for other countries and affects married people as well as singles. Kate then delves into the idea that the reasons for why young people are having less sex may suggest deeper issues in how people are relating, or not relating, to each other. These reasons include the way dating apps are shaping in-person interactions, the prevalence of porn, and an increase in anxiety and depression. We end our conversation by raising the question of why people continue to perpetuate relational patterns that don’t seem to be making them happy.
This is a fascinating discussion. I know some of you listen to the podcast with your kids. Due to the mature nature of this show, I’d have them skip this one.
- What are the data points that show young people are having less sex?
- Is this a worldwide decline? Or a uniquely American problem?
- Japan’s “herbivore men”
- Why this sex decline could indicate something more nefarious going on below the surface
- Why people are putting off romantic relationships, and prioritizing their education and career
- The true effectiveness of dating apps (and how much time is spent/wasted on them)
- Why meeting people at bars or other social venues isn’t as acceptable as it once was
- What smartphones are doing to our casual relationships
- How dating in the digital world has become gamified
- The effects of porn and masturbation on people’s relationships
- How young people are learning about sex these days, and how it subsequently affects their sexual relationships
- The rise of depression/anxiety in young people
- Why young people are actually getting more prudish
- What social media is doing to our self-image
- The social and political ramifications of the sex recession
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- Kate’s original piece in The Atlantic
- Jean Twenge
- iGen by Jean Twenge
- Why Men in Japan Aren’t Having Sex
- AoM series on men and porn
- The Importance of Face-to-Face Contact
- The Unique Powers of the Twentysomething Mind
- Avoiding a 3-Car Pileup in Your 30s
- The Surprising Benefits of Marrying Young
- 6 Tips for Successful and Gentlemanly Online Dating
- Breaking Your Smartphone Habit
- 5 Concrete Ways to Develop a Healthier Relationship With Your Phone
- Fight the New Drug
- How to Deal With Anxiety
- AoM series on male depression
- Decluttering Your Digital Life
- Fighting FOMO: 4 Questions to Kill the Fear of Missing Out
Connect With Kate Julian
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Recorded on ClearCast.io
Read the Transcript