Have you seen the recent studies and statistics about teenagers and young adults having less sex? Given the options of birth control, greater freedom of expression of sexuality, and even low pregnancy and STD rates, not to mention all the dating and hookup sites, shouldn’t we be seeing an increase in sex? Young adults are reported to have fewer partners than the two generations before. Teenager abstinence seems to be rampant along with less sex by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

It is true that fewer people are marrying and those who do, marry later. Many couples cohabitate without involving legalities. A phenomenon I have come across is young adults living with their parents, which of course, does not facilitate bringing a partner home to spend the night.

One of the explanations for this is that men and women put focus on career-building and put off a serious relationship that requires commitment, in time, resources and emotion. That economic conditions and the job market affect this choice is clear. But this subject does not get explained by a simple factor. The influence of social media, you say? Yes, there is that. Tinder, Grindr, Match, OKCupid, you name it, many options to provide looking for a partner, and we spend a lot of time on these sites. Then there is porn.

The increased availability of all kinds of porn sure looks like it is accompanying this decrease in sexual connections. But what is also interesting is that these trends show up in other countries: Britain, Finland, Netherlands and even Sweden! The whole phenomenon takes on an alarming quality when you look at Japan. Its less-sex culture is facing issues in fertility and decreasing demographics.

What shows a huge increase is the frequency of masturbation, for both men and women.

Why bother with all the rigamarole of meeting someone, assessing if you like them, if they like you, the whole scenario of getting to intimacy. You can masturbate by yourself, when you want, how you want, and it is often more intense. It makes sense that this is an easier path to arousal and orgasm than the other; yet, who can deny the joy of emotionally connecting with another human being?

There are no easy answers even with the studies available to address this issue. It is safe to say that the lack of good sex education, the availability of porn, the focus on hooking up that does not require social skills, the time we spend on social media, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression bring us to this point.

On a more positive note, let us remember that that sex is good for our health and promotes happiness. The joy we can experience creating that intimacy of good sex with a partner is not comparable to the fun of porn or the challenge of a video game.

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Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577
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