For Glamour, by Suzannah Weiss.
From Tinder to text message breakups, a lot about our dating habits presumably baffles generations that came before us — generations which usually relied on face-to-face contact when meeting, and dumping, significant others. But it seems the generational differences aren’t only about technology. From how much sex we have to when we choose to get married, it’s more apt to say that today’s approach to relationships in general has shifted considerably from the days when your mom and dad were just getting to know each other.
1. We’re more chill about sex before marriage.
It wasn’t until this past decade that the majority of Americans believed sex before marriage wasn’t wrong. Only 29 percent did in the 1970s, followed by 49 percent in the 2000s, and then 58 percent in 2012, according to a 2016 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
2. Yet we’re having less sex.
Don’t believe the stereotypes: Boomers were twice as likely to be sexually active during their early twenties as people born in the 1990s are now, according to the same study. We also have fewer partners and less interest in sex overall.
3. We’re not waiting for marriage to shack up.
In 2014, nearly one in 10 Americans over 18 were living with significant others they weren’t married to, while less than one percent were in 1967. One possible explanation is that it’s become more socially acceptable to cohabit without getting hitched, but another is that people are marrying later (see number 4).
4. We’re getting married later.
While the number of unmarried Americans living with significant others has risen, the proportion who are married has gown down. In 2014, 68 percent of Americans ages 18 to 33 had never been married. But that was true for only 43 percent in the same age range in 1980.
But this isn’t the case for everyone: Only couples without a college education are more likely to live together without getting married than couples in the 1990s, according to a study in Demography. The most common reason millennials cite for not getting married is that they’re financially unprepared.
5. We’re having kids later.
While many millennials remain unmarried, those who do get married are having kids further into their marriages. The number of women having kids in their twenties dropped by 15 percent between 2007 and 2012, and the average age of first childbirth went from 21.4 in 1970 to 26.3 in 2014. As with marriage, women cite financial limitations as the most common reason to delay having kids.
6. We’re less likely to label ourselves.
While people who identified as gay or lesbian became more visible during our parents’ generation, those who are somewhere in between are gaining visibility now. A 2015 YouGov survey found that 29 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 consider themselves neither gay nor straight. Researchers are observing that rather than viewing sexual orientation as a basis for behavior, many millennials are more open to whatever comes along, regardless of how they identify themselves.
More from Glamour: