I SURVEYED 20-22 YEAR OLDS ABOUT HOW THEY DEFINE SEX AND DATING TERMS, BOTH MODERN AND ANTIQUATED.

CARRIE QUERY, AKA, I COULDN’T HELP BUT WONDER…

When you start your third decade of life, you’re no longer a teenager. Your brain isn’t finished developing until your mid 20s, but you’re no longer constantly plagued by typical teenage hormones and angst.

For those who did the bulk of their experimenting in high school, chances are they know what they’re about sexually and romantically as they begin their 20s. For those who spent their high school years in a relationship, they’re free (usually) from the confines of monogamy and have the opportunity to sleep and date around.

I couldn’t help but wonder…what does the middle ground between teen dreams and quarter life crises mean for one’s sex and dating life?

via GIPHY

DATA

Sample Size: 55 non-boys ages 20-22 at Bard College and various institutions in California and New York.

I asked each participant to identify 12 words and phrases relating to sex and relationships as:

a. casual; non-monogamous

b. casual; monogamous

c. serious; non-monogamous

d. serious; monogamous

 

I then asked for their sexual orientation, age, and relationship status.

ORIENTATION

RELATIONSHIP STATUS

DATING

SLEEPING TOGETHER

RED: casual, non monogamous; BLUE: casual, monogamous; GREEN: serious, monogamous; YELLOW: serious, non monogamous

HAVING SEX

RELATIONSHIP

BLUE: serious, monogamous; YELLOW: casual, monogamous; GREEN and RED: serious, but could be either monogamous or not

THING

SEEING EACH OTHER

CUFF/CUFFED

PARTNER

LOVER

BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND

HANGING OUT

MAKING LOVE

In your opinion and experience, does the term ‘dating’ denote both parties refer to each other as boyfriend/girlfriend/partner?

I noticed more skepticism among this age group than with the eighteen to nineteen year olds. I don’t view this in a negative light; on the contrary, I respect it. I’m nearing twenty and am starting to align with the data presented. They were more apt to explain their answers when the topics were hazy and were brutally honest.

Some topics received more clear and decisive answers, ie ‘dating’ is almost exclusively monogamous and serious, as is ‘partner’, ‘lover’, and ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’. Even ‘making love’ was defined as mostly serious. However, the answers were split between yes and no when asked if ‘boyfriend/girlfriend/partner’ equates to ‘dating’.

Once teenage naivete vanishes, are we more apt to date, fuck, and love in more rigid boundaries?

via GIPHY