Millennial Mania

By: Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and Chief Scientific Advisor to Match

Do you really know your friends?  I’m referring to those in the age cohort 18 to 34:  Millennials.  I ask because many think they’re just sex monkeys who mooch off mom and dad–living in the family basement while making no effort to find romance or marry.  So Match and I decided to find out how Millennials envision their future, and how they are going about obtaining this vision of tomorrow. 

As you may know, we do an annual survey of 5000+ single men and women, known as Singles in America.  Match began this research in 2010 and we have now collected data on over 35,000 Americans from every part of the country, every background, and every age (over 18).  We don’t poll Match members, however. This is a scientific study using a representative sample of single Americans, based on the U.S. census.  And this year we focused on single Millennials: who they are and how they envision their future.

Foremost, they aren’t the sex monkeys some may think.  In fact, these men and women are 51% more likely than Boomers, (ages 52 to 71+) to say they have no interest in sex. 

But it’s when they begin their sexual escapades that they stand out.  Some 34% of singles–of all ages–have had sex with someone before a first date.  But Millennials are 90% more likely than Boomers.  This may seem reckless.   But consider this:  Millennials are busy.  They are doggedly pursuing their careers—women as well as men.  In fact, where young women used to give up career for family; now they are foregoing family to first pursue career.  And Millennials are particularly attracted to entrepreneurs—those scrappy, daring geniuses who forge new ideas in new ways.

So I have come to believe that Millennials are using pre-date sex as a sex interview—an innovative way to decide whether they want to spend their precious time and money to launch this relationship.  You can learn a lot between the sheets.  Others may be using pre-date sex to lure someone into a first date, perhaps even trigger the brain chemistry for romance and attachment too. But Millennials take this pre-date sex seriously; they are 40% more likely than those of other cohorts to believe that emotional intimacy makes sex better.  And men, by the way, are more likely than women to regard a one-night stand as an efficient way to jump-start a long-term partnership.

I’m not surprised at this wide use of pre-date sex.  Millennials know how to avoid disease and pregnancy; they no longer need to walk the walk of shame after hooking up either.  Unchained from thousands of years of the credos that stifled youthful sexuality until marriage, Millennials are making the most of their new freedom—to interview a potential partner or trigger love.

And Millennials do seek love.  They are 30% more likely than those of any other generation to want to find romance and commitment in 2017.   Some feel pressure from their parents to settle down; others want to keep up with their married friends; and many want to make a family of their own.  And they’re using the world’s most sophisticated tool to find a partner:  the Internet.

Today 40% of actively dating singles have dated someone they met online; while only 24% met through a friend.  But Millennials lead the way; they are 57% more likely than those of other generations to have created an online profile—and 75% more likely than Boomers to have gone out with someone they met through the air waves.  And the airwaves are where the action is.  In a former year, we compared the life styles of single Americans who dated online versus offline.  And those online were more likely to have a full-time job and higher education—as well as more likely to want to wed.

Many Millennials feel burned out by the dating process; but they don’t give up.  I am enormously optimistic about this ambitious and creative youngest generation of adults. Millennials rock.