More than any prior generation, Generation Z seems to embrace sex positivity — that is, embracing sexual variety and various relationship forms. This includes BDSM, casual sex, and polyamory (or consensual non-monogamy). As long as the people involved are adults and consenting, Gen Z is less likely to judge their choices and actions.
But while Gen Z seems to be more sex-positive and open-minded, they seem to be more relationship-negative…at least in the way that prior generations use the word “relationship” to mean two people who are dating/married, committed to each other, and not seeing other people.
I think this can be positive because Gen Z doesn’t feel the same pressure as past generations to be in a relationship, or carry the belief in the same way that they are incomplete without a committed, monogamous relationship. And regarding sexual expression, they carry less stigma and shame.
On the other hand, I worry that some of the shift may be due to the consumeristic and disposable nature of dating and sex as cultivated through dating apps. And, I also fear that it could be that asking for a commitment from someone feels too emotionally vulnerable (and specifically for young women, who might believe they don’t have the right to ask).
I was recently interviewed for an article in the New York Post about a research study comparing the generations in how they view the potential benefits of non-monogamy.
I cannot vouch for the rigor of the research studies this article is based on (e.g., some of the research cited was based on a sample from a dating site that encourages affairs). However, I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on shifting generational trends and offer my insights for this piece.
My thoughts shaped the article’s conclusion:
“However, experts note that there are competing narratives defining Gen Z, as the members of this generation have reacted to the major events and phenomena that have defined them in extreme ways.
While sitting on opposite ends of the spectrum, these seemingly different groups may actually be explained by their struggle to make deep emotional connections.
‘I feel both extremes have the same underlying concern, and that it is a fear of vulnerability,’ Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, a sociologist, intimacy speaker and author, told The Post.
She explained that open relationships are a way ‘to still have sexual fun and fulfillment and have human connection, but not be too vulnerable emotionally.’
Basically, Gen Z may be ‘more sex-positive, but less relationship-positive,’ whether they’re sleeping with no one — or everyone.
You can read the entire article here: More than half of Gen Z want open relationships: study.
-Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus — Sociologist / Intimacy Speaker / Relationship Coach / Author