American Romance Standards Are Changing as People Have Less Sex and Marriage Rates Drop – PEOPLE

Although American adults are having less sex and exchanging less rings than they once did, romance isn't dead — and neither is relationship satisfaction.
In 2021 findings reported by CNN, nearly 26% of adults said they didn't have sex once over the past 12 months, according to the General Social Survey. The results were up from 23.3% in 2018 and 22.5% in 2016, which were the last two times the recurring survey had been completed. 
In contrast, when the survey was conducted 20 years earlier, only 18.7% of adults reported not having any sex.  
The Washington Post previously reported that the change has been most pronounced in younger adults. Between 2008 and 2018, the percentage of Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 not having sex doubled. (Meanwhile, numbers for adults over the age of 50 have stayed largely consistent since 1989.)
As a possible explanation behind the data, Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, told the newspaper at the time that "there are more people in their twenties who don't have a live-in partner…so under those circumstances I think less sex is going to happen." 
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In their most recent survey, GSS also reported that the number of adults with a live-in partner has continued to decrease.  
Although 70% of respondents said they were living in the same house as their spouse in 1989, only 48% of American adults reported being in the same situation in 2021. 
The number of adults who said they did not have a steady partner has also increased in that time period, reaching 30% last year.  
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However, the good news is that the majority of adults who are in relationships report feeling romantically satisfied with their partner. 
"Among Americans who are currently married, living with a partner, or otherwise in a romantic relationship, 9 in 10 are clearly satisfied with their current relationship," Monmouth University shared earlier this month of the results of a new national survey. 
Although those numbers were down slightly from the previous year, the findings are largely consistent with pre-pandemic survey results.  
"The pandemic gave relationships an unexpected boost by forcing partners to rely on each other more, which allowed couples to better appreciate what they had," Monmouth University psychology professor Dr. Gary Lewandowski said in a press release
"A year later, as we get back into our old routines, it shifts our attention away from our relationship which undermines satisfaction," Lewandowski continued.
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However, whether you're single or in a relationship, recent surveys all show that people are less into celebrating Valentine's Day the traditional way.  
"The pandemic has shifted how we think of romantic Valentine's Day activities," Lewandowski explained. "While many couples may prefer a night on the town if Covid wasn't a factor, it appears that they are adjusting their expectations in light of the new reality." 
Now, just one in four adults say their perfect celebration would include a big night out, while 37% of respondents said they'd prefer to spend time with their loved one at home.
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Another recent survey found that almost 50% of people who don't have romantic partners find Valentine's Day to be particularly stressful — a number which is particularly high among millennials and Gen Z.  
"Interestingly, the biggest pressures come from external sources tied to societal expectations (58%), commercialization and non-stop advertising of the big day (57%), and social media hype (48%)," a press release from dating app Plenty of Fish states.  
According to their research, 43% of singles report feeling pressured to be in a relationship on Valentine's Day, while 41% say they feel like they're supposed to act like the holiday is more meaningful than they feel it is. Additionally, 37% say they feel pressured to spend more money on gifts than they want to. 
"[Singles] are flat out tired of the unrealistic expectations that society and social media place on them — especially during this time of year," Plenty of Fish marketing executive Stefan Harvalias said in a statement.

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