How Covid Delayed Gen-Z Sex Life (And Why That's Okay)
© Illustration by Lesia Pavlenko @toltemara
Living through lockdown meant that Gen-Z missed out on a lot.
The Covid-19 lockdown of March 2020 (and many months after) turned everybody's lives upside down. We adapted to Zoom meetings, endless queues outside supermarkets, made whipped coffee and obsessed over Tiger King. At first, the three-week rest was welcomed, but as time went on, it began to cause a strain on many people's lives, work and relationships. We have been through many more lockdowns, 10 pm curfews, rule of 6, and two years later, it finally seems that we are back to normal.
Whilst everybody missed out on their lives, Gen Z missed out on many rites of passage. Whether it was missing prom, their exams, their first year of university, or smaller milestones like going to their first party or going on their first date, Gen Z was forced to do a lot of their growing up locked inside.
This, in turn, has dramatically affected Gen-Z sex life. A whole generation of young people was inside and unable to socialise for two years, at a time when many would typically be embarking upon their first dates, relationships, kisses, and first sexual encounters.
In the UK, the average age to have your first kiss is 15, and to have sex for the first time is 18. Many in that age range were entering a phase where social distancing rules could potentially delay this experience for them for another year and a half. At that age, when these experiences seem to be all that your peers are talking about, many experienced worry and anxiety.
Georgina, 20, is a university student who had just turned 18 when lockdown was announced. She said: “Going into lockdown without having sex didn’t concern me at first; it wasn’t until lockdown extended that it started to be a worry. I felt like I was going to be left behind.
“Knowing I was going to uni not having done something that most of my peers had made it daunting to me as I knew it was something that would come up quite quickly, and I felt embarrassed.”
“However, when I got to uni, I realised no one was actually bothered about body count and no longer felt a pressure to lose my virginity.”
As statistics on dating, sex and relationships come out post-pandemic, we will presumably see the average age to first experience sex rise. Hopefully, this eases the anxiety and pressure young people feel about losing their virginity at a young age because, ultimately, virginity doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter when you choose to have sex for the first time.
The delay in sexual experiences has normalised losing your virginity at an older age, something that plenty of people already do but never seems to be spoken about. It could be a huge step in taking some of the pressure and stigma out of sex for younger generations.