Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax
Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax

Nick Charalambous

This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of family life
This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of...

IMAGE Interiors & Living

Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family
Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family

Sarah Finnan

Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events
Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events

Sarah Gill

IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands
IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands

Edaein OConnell

Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000
Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000

Sarah Finnan

The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene
The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene

Oyindamola Animashaun

Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods
Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods

Sarah Gill

5 foolproof summer ‘fits
5 foolproof summer ‘fits

Sarah Finnan

The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about
The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about

Sarah Gill

Image / Self / Relationships

68% of Irish people in their late 20s are living at home — so how is it impacting their sex lives?


By Sarah Gill
08th Apr 2024
68% of Irish people in their late 20s are living at home — so how is it impacting their sex lives?

Between the pandemic, housing crisis, and exorbitant cost of living, many young people have been forced to move back under their parents’ roof in the past few years. Bumble’s sex and relationships expert Dr Caroline West tells us how it’s impacting the boomerang generation’s dating habits.

New figures from Eurostat show that the number of Irish young adults living at home with their parents has almost doubled over the course of the past decade. A staggering 68% of those aged between 25 and 29 are living at home, compared to the EU average of 42%.

The data also shows that men in this age bracket are less likely to leave home in comparison to their female counterparts, with 61% of women yet to move out and 74% of men yet to fly the nest.

How is a generation of young people who have been pushed out of the rental market and back into their childhood bedrooms supposed to marry their once-independent lifestyle with that of the teenage self they’ve found themselves reverting back to?

According to research compiled by the women-first dating app Bumble, 70% of Irish daters say it’s more difficult to date while living with parents and housemates. A third of respondents are currently living with their parents, 24% of which are between the ages of 24 and 35. They call them the ‘boomerang generation’, in reference to the way in which they soared off into the freedom of their young adulthood, only to suddenly recoil back upon themselves due to a number of factors, from the pandemic to the housing crisis.

Looking a little deeper into the findings, the research showed that 43% of respondents experienced a fast-forwarded relationship timeline, and 39% admitted that this accelerated intimacy was far too intense and ended up being a bit of a turn-off. Another trend the study noted was that living at home can make dating become a costly affair, with 65% reporting more time and money spent on organising dates or romantic dalliances. Basically, to put it bluntly, it seems like living at home can be a little bit of a cock block.

“Living at home makes casual dating, or even dating in general, basically impossible for me. If I leave the house, my parents want to know where I’m going, who I’m going with, and what time I’ll be back,” one 25-year-old woman who’s been living at home since the first lockdown tells me. “Then when you’re actually seeing someone, it can feel like a waste of time if you don’t have sex when that rare time alone presents itself. It can feel really scheduled, and you lose the spontaneity.”

“It can feel infantilising, and it’s very limiting in what you can do. You lose that element of independence.”

According to Bumble’s sex and relationship expert, Dr Caroline West, this is an extremely common thread among those who have found themselves living at home once again. “In your twenties, you’re meant to go out and explore the world, and it can feel unfair that life has curtailed this, but it’s okay to feel that frustration,” she says. “What’s really important, though, is how you manage that frustration.”

“When you’re 18, you’re absolutely desperate to get out of home and be seen as an adult. You’re carving out your own identity separate from who you were as a child and someone living in their childhood bedroom. You have this opportunity to grab freedom with both hands and when that’s taken away from you, you can feel very resentful. Recognising that you’re not alone, and renegotiating that relationship as adults is crucial.”

When you’ve been living independently as an empowered young woman out in the world, it can feel as though you’re shrinking back into a version of yourself that doesn’t quite fit you any more. And while it may be easy to feel downtrodden by the rental market, the sheer expense of existence, and society at large, shifting your perspective and realising that this may not have been in your parents’ plan either, could help to erase some of that budding resentment.

“Understanding both perspectives is so important, and moving the parent-child relationship to a more adult relationship will benefit both sides,” Caroline says. “While it may feel urgent to impress upon your parents that you’re a grown-up, it’s also important to reassess the way you view your parents. They’re not just your mother or father, and you’ve got to acknowledge that they have their own lives and identities outside of the relationship that they have with you.”

So, what are some tips for approaching the subject of dating with your parents?

According to Caroline, it’s all about managing expectations, improving communication, and putting some boundaries firmly in place. This will limit any wedding hat discussions before your romance has even made it off the dating app, and help curb any animosity before it’s even created.

“Have an exit plan. Think about how long you’ll be living at home, set a time limit, and itemise what you need to do to get there,” she says. “Is it saving money, is it going to see a mortgage advisor, is it looking for a new job? If you have a time limit, you can look upon it as temporary.”

Speaking on the accelerating effect that living at home can have on new relationships, Caroline says, “It gives people the pause to consider what they want, and whether they want something long term, and that opens up communication and understanding within a relationship, and any avenue for healthy conversation can only be a good thing. It helps to reevaluate what we want, and it can help people who may drift through relationships not being certain of what they want from it, which can lead to heartache. If we can avoid mixed signals or miscommunication, it’s only ever a good thing.”

Now for the big one: boundaries. Whether that be with your partner, your friends, or your family, figuring out your limits and communicating those to the people around you is a hugely healthy practice to become accustomed to.

“Boundaries aren’t something that Irish people are typically very good at or comfortable with, so the silver lining in all this may be to work on our communication skills and boundary setting.”

So, if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, the expert advice is to get serious about figuring out your dating goals, plot out the points of your exit strategy, and prioritise putting some boundaries in place across all the relationships in your life.

Featured image via @glenpowell and @anyonebutyoumovie. This article was originally published in August 2023.