Young Britain: We're fed up with meaningless sex by the time we're in our twenties

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The Independent Online
"My friend's got three kids and he's got another on the way," says 19-year-old Damian. "But since he turned 17, he's settled down with his girlfriend. I suppose that's what we all want to do these days."

Damian Julienne, from Birkenhead, has grown up with sex. He had his first full sexual encounter at 10 with a 14-year-old girl from down the street.

"Yes, I was really young, but it wasn't like sex, like I have today, it was more of an investigation and if I look back it seems laughable," he says.

"When I turned 15, sex became like a regular, more serious thing. But last year I met a girl and fell in love and it totally changed the way I feel about relationships."

Although things did not work out for Damian and he has steered cleared of other commitment since, he admits that somewhere along the line he wants to shake off any lad-like connotations.

"I might have had a lot of girlfriends in the past, but I would love to settle down. Maybe not to get married, but just to be in a long-term relationship with someone I was committed to."

Damian is not is not alone among young Britons.

A picture emerges from the 2020 Vision research of a generation of young people who are knowledgeable about sex from an early age, but who at the same time take a rather traditional view on intimacies by the time they reach their late teens and early twenties.

Jo Gardiner, campaign director for the Industrial Society, says: "Young Britons know much more about sex at an earlier age than previous generations and because they are well-informed they can act on it.

"So although they tend to xperiment earlier what they really want is responsibility in relationships and commitment to one person. They don't want to jump into bed with just anyone."

Lois Lancaster, 24, of London, has been in a relationship for five years. She believes that her peers are more interested in commitment than wild sex for the sake of it.

"The idea that young people enjoy frequent casual sex without responsibility is really just an old-fashioned myth that takes examples from the Sixties and Seventies for evidence," she says.

"We might know a lot about sex, but most of my friends don't sleep around. Partly this is due to the Aids risk and partly it is because we are told about sex from such an early age. It just holds no surprises and there is so much more to gain from a long-term sexual relationships."

Young people are more open to sex than any generation before them and they tend to use that freedom in a responsible manner.

As Damian explains: "There are no limits on sex these days. We know everything when we are still in the playground. But it doesn't matter how liberal you are because by the time we are in our twenties we are fed up with meaningless sex."