Will gen Z be the generation to finally ditch sex and relationships labels?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Updated Jul 31, 2023 at 09:02 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Recently, I was sitting around for a couple of drinks with some friends, swapping stories about past relationships and dating experiences. Laughter filled the air as we shared some of our best and worst dating stories. As the conversation flowed, we delved into a topic that captivated everyone’s attention—one of our friends opened up about a holiday experience that involved her boyfriend and a mysterious other girl.

While there was definitely an initial pause from everyone sitting at the table, we’re in London, so conversations regarding sexual fluidity, polyamory and anything of that kind don’t really come as much of a surprise. We gen Zers are naturally incredibly open, free, and expressive in our sexuality, as we embrace a non-taboo attitude towards it.

Moreover, gen Z put a big emphasis on understanding boundaries, safety and the importance of mental and sexual health within a hook-up culture.

However, when my close friend casually opened up about her holiday, I couldn’t help but think about scenes from the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona. For the first time, I found myself momentarily speechless, unsure of how to respond. My initial impulse was to ask, “How did it go?” Composed as ever, she replied: “Imagine a breathtaking tropical setting with swaying palm trees, crystal blue waters gently lapping against the shore, and just the three of us. We had an absolutely amazing time!”

In that moment, it felt as though I was having a vision almost like out of an episode of That’s So Raven. Let me be clear, I hold zero judgment whatsoever. On the contrary, I felt an overwhelming sense of curiosity building inside me. How does she manage to remain so remarkably composed? Am I the only one who still experiences moments of jealousy towards my boyfriend? Engaging with her was akin to conversing with a spiritual guru, prompting me to question the way I’ve previously lived my life thus far.

It made me wonder if our generation, gen Z, is indeed reshaping the norms of monogamous relationships. Could it be that exploring alternative relationship structures leads to greater personal growth and fulfilment in the long run?

Pretty soon, everyone at the table burst into the conversation with their own enquiries about the story: “Did you guys spend the whole trip together?”, “Wasn’t it awkward?”, “Did she sleep in the same bed?” It seemed like everyone had an opinion on the matter, and the conversation quickly delved into a more profound exploration, one completely centred around the topic of sex.

One individual chimed in, wanting to share their recent interest in kink and BDSM, expressing a preference for trying these activities with their partner to spice things up rather than engaging with someone else casually.

Listening to all these conversations, I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of categorisation my friends were applying to their sexual experiences. It was like scrolling through a porn website, searching for the perfect category that aligned with their preferences.

The whole experience reminded me of an article from The Standard, in which sex blogger Dami Olonisakin discussed the modern-day approach to sex and relationships. It’s fascinating to see how our generation navigates the complexities of sex and intimacy, breaking away from traditional norms and exploring diverse avenues.

If you think about it, women could barely talk about masturbation or their periods 20 years ago. Our willingness to explore different aspects of our sexuality and preferences with understanding, respect, and communication truly marks a new era in how we perceive and experience sex.

However, it’s essential to recognise that each individual’s journey is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. During the evening, it almost felt as though we had all been trying desperately to identify with a specific category that described how well we complemented the gen Z approach to sex. It’s crucial to remember that as we navigate this journey of self-discovery and intimacy, we need to avoid becoming too rigid in our approach. The pressure to fit into predetermined categories can result in us feeling more boxed in than free.

Ultimately, it’s your body, and you should feel empowered to explore and express yourself in ways that feel right for you. As long as you are with someone you feel comfortable and connected with, that’s what truly matters. Gen Z’s open-mindedness and acceptance, coupled with an understanding that our experiences are diverse and should be celebrated, can lead us towards a more honest and fulfilling approach to sex and relationships.

So, go forth, be true to yourself, and remember that there is no need to conform to any predefined notions—just embrace your own unique and beautiful journey, because when it comes to sex, there’s no right or wrong.

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