Here’s the thing about Gen Zs – a lot of research says that they’re way more reserved than previous Gen Ys and certainly, Gen Xs. Less alcohol and drugs, more 10am brunches and nights in. But while I think it’s fair to say the jury is still out on that one, it seems like there’s one thing Gen Zs are synonymous with; hooking up.
And again, I don’t mean that in a crude way. But more that Gen Zs seem to be focused on dating for longer, dating casually more often, and only jumping into a relationship when they’re super convinced it has legs. That’s on the back of Valentines Day last week, too (or should we say Galentines, given the increasingly single status of Gen Zs).
Take a competition we just ran on Instagram, where we gave two double passes away for V-Day last week. If you scroll through the comments, you’ll see literally more comments where Gen Zs are tagging their best mates, mums, and at best, new flirts.
In a recent article with The Conversation, Associate Professor Treena Orchard did a little sample study with her university class. She interviewed 16 women, and seven men – producing some findings that push this idea of being single for longer.
Sexual Fluidity & Intimacy
Being sexually fluid was a huge part of the findings. When you’re in a traditional relationship, there’s arguably less room for exploration and finding the type of intimacy you might get with multiple partners. That’s what the students in this study said, and it’s hard to disagree. Again, it doesn’t mean that Gen Zs are looking to hook up with anyone and everyone, but rather keeping their options open to new sexual partners means a greater chance for a deeper experience.
In addition to this, development on an emotional level is a big factor. Orchard mentions that despite Gen Z students seeming somewhat indecisive about their relationships, it’s quite the opposite.
“While it may be tempting to discredit young people’s sex lives as fleeting, my participants demonstrated a remarkable capacity for change, sexual desire and emotional complexity.”
Arguably for previous generations sex was about status almost more than anything. Have sex early, have sex regularly – more for the quick feeling than anything deeper. But as Orchard says, Gen Zs are looking for a deeper feeling than just a physical rush, that will contribute to their overall emotional development. Even if that’s a sentence a 19-year-old may never actually physically say.
It’s About The Journey
A student who took part in the research, Chris (not his real name), had this to say about a hyper-sexual environment:
“I think people are also afraid to say that they want that intimacy because it’s such a culture right now it’s so like ‘just have sex.’ No one really says, ‘I want to cuddle with you’ or ‘I want to spend time with you’ …Everything is…just about sex, everyone is supposed to be hypersexual and that’s the expectation.”
Different partners often provide different experiences across the journey. As Chris says, for him a focus is more on genuine experiences over blatant sex just to solve a societal expectation. Even if there is still pressure in this space to live up to a sexual expectation.
The key point here being that Gen Zs are slowly moving away from this defining expectation. It’s about all the experiences involved in love, dating and sex. Not just the orgasm at the end.
The way Gen Zs go about their relationships is a vital part in the wider understanding of this generation. If your brand is selling or marketing towards Gen Zs, how do you tap into these learnings? Can you tap into that deeper want for emotion? Can you sell to them more in regards to a good journey, than necessarily just an ending? Does your company have a brand that pushes development and mental health awareness?
These are just the tip of the iceberg, and if you were to sit down and break these learnings up, there is a tonne to uncover. So don’t rest on your laurels, because Gen Zs certainly aren’t.