We live in an era of increasingly relaxed attitudes towards sex and sexuality. The advent of dating apps has made meeting a potential partner as easy as swiping a finger. So why are people having less sex?
The British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles in 2013 showed the frequency of sex among 16 to 44-year-olds fell by 20% compared to 2000.
Similarly, a 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour found that Americans are having sex nine fewer times per year than in the 1990s.
The trend of a declining interest in sex is not just a western phenomenon.
One in three Singaporeans polled in 2014 said they had sex less than once a month.
The Japan Family Planning Association reported that 46% of women and more than 25% of men between the ages of 16 and 24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact”. While nearly 50% of married respondents reported being in a “sexless” marriage.
A Work-Related Hazard
One possible cause for this trend is our work lives. It seems the more hours we work, the more tired and stressed we become, negatively impacting our sex lives.
Research backs this up. According to a Swiss study, “higher self-reported stress in daily life was associated with lower levels of sexual activity and satisfaction, and a decrease in relationship satisfaction.”
In Japan, the most common reason for being uninterested in sex given by married men is being “too tired from work”.
The average American in full-time employment worked 47 hours a week in 2015. Closer to home, the average Singaporean worked 45.1 hours per week in 2017. Higher than South Korea and Japan, countries well known for their intense work cultures.
Netflix and Chill
We have a plethora of choices when it comes to entertainment these days. An abundance of on-demand streaming services, alongside social media and video games have made us increasingly attached to our smartphones, tablets and PCs.
Instant gratification in various forms is always at our fingertips, perhaps having an adverse effect on our romantic relationships.
This interference by technology, dubbed “Technoference”, was researched at Brigham Young University. The result: 70% of women said their partner’s use of smartphones interfered with their love life.
Professor Kaye Wellings, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, states, “ iPads and computers have all breached the boundary between the home and the bedroom.”
Depression’s Dark Cloud
The Western world and Asia have both struggled to deal with a growing depression epidemic.
More than 20% of Americans will experience an episode of clinical depression. In the UK, 10% of 25- to 64-year-olds admit to having depression.
The World Health Organisation’s 2015 estimates gave Singapore the highest rate of depression in Asia. Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health reported a 20% increase in major depressive cases between 2014 and 2016.
Studies show that depression is one of the most common causes of sexual dysfunction as well as loss of interest in sex.
Symptoms of Modern Life
There is no single answer we can point to as the root cause for this trend towards sexual disinterest.
Several factors may have a cumulative effect, although much depends on an individual’s circumstances and lifestyle.
Modern life in a developed country, however, does appear to be the main culprit.