The 2010s revolutionized how we date and have sex. Grindr came out in 2009 and three years later, Tinder followed suit. You’d think with the ease of casual hookups, millennials would be having more sex than ever before, but a 2016 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that more than twice as many millennials born in the 1990s (15 percent) have no sexual partners compared to Gen Xers born in the 1960s (6 percent).
With dating apps, we’re struck with the paradox of choice. We have more options than ever before to meet, date, and have sex with people—yet having so many options might actually hinder our ability to find “the one.” We can’t help but think there’s someone better out there, so we ghost (or breadcrumb or fizz) and move on to the next victim.
Still, the 2010s were also great for sex and dating. The sex-positive movement exploded over the past decade, and there are more products and toys to help you have more satisfying sex than ever before. With that, here are the best and worst sex and dating trends of the decade.
1. THC/CBD-infused sex products
Stoners rejoice! But actually, these products aren’t just for recreational cannabis users. CBD and THC-infused lubricants can actually enhance pleasure immensely for female partners by decreasing the amount of pain and discomfort that can sometimes be accompanied with sex. Same too, can CBD vaginal suppositories, and they have the added benefit of being able to alleviate some of the pain that comes with period cramps.
2. Women reclaimed the word “horny”
The word “horny” doesn’t just belong to gross pubescent boys anymore. Women, too, are embracing the word, and with it, their sexual desires. In 2019, The New York Times published an article called “The Year Women Got ‘Horny’,” in which the author writes that previously the word horny “was mischievous,” and “decidedly masculine.” Well, not any more.
3. Prostate stimulation is for all men
Technically, prostate play has always been for all men, regardless of sexual orientation. But with the rise of pegging in mainstream culture (thanks Broad City) we’ve seen a critical shift in how straight men, too, are embracing that walnut-sized gland in the anus. After all, pleasure is pleasure. It isn’t gay, straight, or bisexual. And with proper prostate stimulation, you can take your pleasure to new heights.
4. The invention of the “sex and cuddle/nap” first date
This one pertains more to men who date men. A new type of first date was invented with the help of hookup apps—sort of variant of the infamous Netflix and Chill. I’m going to go ahead and call it the “sex and cuddle/nap.” Here’s how it works: After talking on the apps for a few minutes, you invite someone over. You talk about your day for five minutes. You make out for five minutes, and then you have sex for 15. Then you spend the next few hours cuddling and napping together. Honestly, it’s a great first date. Then on the second date, you can get to know them, if you so choose.
5. There’s a sex toy for everything
The past decade has seen a huge proliferation in the number of sex toys. In 2016, it was a $ 15 billion industry, according to Forbes. In 2017, it was estimated at $ 23.7 billion, according to Business Wire, and it’s estimated to reach $ 35.5 billion by 2023.
There are new sex toys and accessories for every body and actitivity imaginable. There are automatic blowjob simulators, gender-neutral sex toys, and even premature ejaculation sprays for guys who blow their loads a little too quickly. If there’s something new you want to try out, odds are there’s a perfect sex toys to accompany you on the job.
7. Cuffing season is a thing
Somehow as a society, we’ve cumulatively agreed that it sucks to be single in the winter. No one likes heading to holiday office and family functions alone. And lord knows we have no desire to get dressed to head 3 miles in freezing temperatures to meet some person at a dive bar who looks nothing like their Tinder photos. That’s why cuffing season—which Urban Dictionary defines as a time period wherein we stop having rampant sex after a summer of lovin’ and settle down with one companion to wait out the cold fall and winter months—is an awesome 2010s trend.
8. The invention of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
Approved by the FDA in 2012, Truvada became the first antiretroviral medication approved to prevent the spread of HIV. Commonly referred to as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Truvada is a pill one can take daily that decreases the likelihood of acquiring HIV through sex by 99%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This pill has empowered people who engage in higher-risk sexual activity; they no longer have to fear about contracting the virus while having sex.
9. The rise of ass eating
“He toss my salad like his name Romaine,” Nicki Minaj rapped in “Anaconda” back in 2014. A year later, Young Thug rapped “Eat the booty like groceries.” In 2018, the same year Tom Brady commented on an ass-eating meme on Instagram, MEL Magazine published an article called “Anal Sex Is Passé, Ass-Eating Has Peaked: What’s The Next Big Sex Trend?”
Now, I’m not going to say ass eating has peaked. I think the stupendous art of analingus is on the rise, and we’re only going to see more of it. With that, here’s our beginner’s guide to rimming.
Now…onto the worst:
In the 2010s, it somehow became acceptable to go on multiple dates with someone, have great sex, seem like you enjoyed it, and then never reply or speak to that person every again. This cowardly act is extremely frustrating, and makes us want to give up on sex and dating altogether. Sure, people have been doing this since the dawn of dating, but in the 2010s, the phenomenon not only got a name, but also seemed to become an epidemic.
2. Dating is no longer fun
According to my parents, dating, apparently, used to be a fun activity. They fondly recall being asked out (or asking someone out) IRL, going on group dates with other couples, and doing fun things, like seeing drive-in movies. Perhaps because of behaviors like ghosting, dating has started to feel like a chore. In fact, there’s now a common phrase, “dating fatigue,” to describe the burnout you can face when you’re trying to settle down.
3. It’s grown harder to meet folks in real life
A 2019 study published by Stanford researcher Michael Rosenfeld found that the majority of couples in the United States now meet online instead of through friends. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad dating trend. However, it seems that many of us are losing our confidence and ability to meet folks in real life because we’ve grown too accustomed to swiping on the apps.
4. The rise of unsolicited dick pics
According to a 2017 YouGov survey, over 40% of women ages 18 to 36 report having received an unwanted penis picture. Now dick pics are some of the best things you can receive via text… when formally requested. Sending an unsolicited dick pic isn’t just gross, it can actually be considered a form of sexual harassment.
5. Benefits without friends
Friends with benefits? Amazing, as long as the two of you are on the same page, treat each other with respect, and are honest about your intentions. But the 2010s saw the rise of benefits without friends, cleverly disguised as friends with benefits. In other words, people are putting up with casual partners treating them terribly because they believe that’s what’s a friends with benefits situation means. They’re seemingly fine with their casual partner flaking and not responding to texts. Friends with benefits means just that: You are friends with benefits. They should still treat you with respect and like an actual friend. Would it be fine for you friend to constantly flake and not text you back? No, just like it’s not acceptable for friends with benefits to behave in this manner.
Breadcrumbing, according to Urban Dictionary, is “When the crush has no intentions of taking things further, but they like the attention. So they flirt here or there, send dm/texts just to keep the person interested, knowing damn well they’re staying single.” Essentially, your crush is leaving you a trail of romantic breadcrumbs that leads to nowhere.
Often times, they don’t even meet up with you. They won’t reply when you ask to make plans, and will just hit you up with an out-of-the-blue “hey” days later. The best thing you can do to breadcrumbers is stop texting back. Period.