Who Can F**k At A Time Like This?
26percent of American adults didn’t have sex at all in 2021. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Squadoosh.
Some of you are going to read the headline and the opening data point and immediately jump into the comment section to fire off a clip full of the usual “men are trash” and “women are shallow” rallying cries and, folks, we are not gonna do that today — we are going to finish the piece because this post is only sorta about sex. We’re going to make carefully considered points and take them all in sum, like the thinking and feeling adults that we are.
Sex in America, particularly among young adults, has been on the decline for years. The Atlantic devoted plenty of pages to the “Sex Recession” way back in 2018. (I say “way back”, because honestly, pre-pandemic feels like the paleolithic era at this point.)
In the past half-decade or so, researchers and analysts and pundits, many dyed in the wool of their ideologies, have tried offering explanations for this — as well as disquieting “solutions” to jumpstart people’s sexual prowess. It has not worked; nothing’s worked. But to lament libidogeddon is to miss the forest for the trees.
“Traditional” Life Milestones Are Increasingly Rare
It’s not just sex. (But it’s the most eye-catching lede, so we opened with it.) There are a litany of stats pointing to a precipitous drop in meaningful romantic partnerships.
Rates of heterosexual marriage have been steadily declining since the early 1980s. [Same-sex marriage obviously up by infinity percent, since Obervill v. Hodges. This is progress; this is good.]
Singledom is indeed skyrocketing. The percentage of single-occupant households has doubled over the past 60 years — wild considering the peaking number of young adults who live with their parents.
“Serious” heterosexual partnerships end more quickly than they used to, and it’s become more and more common amongst those that last a while to idle in the pre-marital stage. On top of all that, among Americans who do marry, they’re walking the aisle later than ever.