Helen Fisher, PhD


Do you 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 who these people really are.  

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 that “racy” crowd:  Millennials.

Foremost, they aren’t very sexy.  Indeed, these men and women were 51% more likely that Boomers, (ages 52 to 71+) to say they have no interest in sex.   

But it’s when they begin their sexual escapades that they become creative.   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 strange.   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 all 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.  Indeed, you learn a lot between the sheets.  Others may be using pre-date sex to lure someone into a first date; while still others may be trying to trigger the brain circuitry for romance and attachment as well.  Men, by the way, are particularly likely to regard a one-night stand as an efficient way to jump start a long-term partnership.

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 are using the Internet to do it.  Today 40% of actively dating Singles have dated someone they met on line; while only 24% met through a friend.    But Millennials lead the pack.  They’re smart too:  on line daters are significantly more likely to be fully employed, to have more education and to want to wed.  

So although many Millennials feel burned out by the dating process, they are avidly seeking love—albeit, often in unconventional ways.  I am enormously optimistic about this ambitious, creative and daring youngest generation of adults.  Millennials rock.