Sure, the general theory is that millennials are more open about sex—and have more sexual partners—than any generation before them, but according to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, only one of those theories is actually true.
The study, via Time.com, included over 33,000 people and found that premarital sex is more accepted than ever, with a whopping 58 percent of respondents in 2012 saying that they thought there was nothing wrong with sex before marriage (compared to 44 percent in 2004,). It’s a percentage that’s only been climbing: 28 percent thought premarital sex was okay in 1972, then 38 percent in 1978, then 41 percent in 1982.
Tolerance for gay couples is on the rise too: In 1973, 11 percent of people believed gay sex was “not wrong,” but by 2012 that number had risen to 44 percent.
Judging by this data, it seems logical to assume that millennials are also laissez-faire with their number of sexual partners, but that’s actually not the case. According to the study, it’s baby boomers and early Gen Xers born in the 1950s and ’60s that have had the most sexual partners—an average of 11—followed by those born in the 1940s or 1970s, who averaged about 10 partners. Millennials born in the 1980s and 1990s, meanwhile, have an average of eight partners.
“Although millennials are more tolerant of these behaviors, they’re not taking that is license to sleep around,” the study’s author Jean Twenge told Time.com. She did note the decline has likely to do more with increasing information about HIV and other STDs, then anything. “Millennials have never known a world where premarital sex was a taboo,” she said.