Dry Spells - A look at how Europeans and Americans handle lapses in sexual activity

Sexual Dry Spells

A Look at How Europeans and Americans Handle Lapses in Sexual Activity

Have you ever had a moment of realisation – while watching a film or out on the street – that it’s been a long time since you last had sex?

Whether you’re between partners or have been married for years, sexual dry spells happen to the best of us. A couple of days between your last roll in the sheets can quickly turn into weeks, months, and even years.

We surveyed 1,500 Europeans and Americans to learn more about sexual pauses and asked questions about their longest dry spells and how they coped with all that extra time on their hands. Curious to see what we discovered? Continue reading to find out.

When was the last time you had sex?

the average length of time since intercourse by relationship status, gender, and nationality

Have you ever had an itch you just couldn’t scratch? Pent-up frustration that could not be released? Participants sure have. The first thing we looked at was the average length of time since respondents’ last romp in the hay.

It turns out, men and women who were either married or in a relationship had gone a week, on average, without sex. With having consensual sex regularly being both physically and mentally healthy, those with a significant other had the easiest and most frequent access when it came to knocking boots.

When looking at divorced and single people who participated in our survey, those who were single went two months since last copulating, and divorced participants averaged more than three years without sexual intimacy.

At least one single person even went 27 years without having sex. At the time of our survey, European men and women and American women went about two weeks since their last sexual encounter, while American men had gone without sex for a month.

Dry seasons

the longest average length of time without sex by generation

We found the longest average length of time baby boomers and Gen Xers went without sex was two months. There were a few exceptions, however. At least one baby boomer went 12 years without fornicating, while at least one Gen Xer was sexually abstinent for 24 years.

On the other hand, millennials were the least likely to go without sex for any extended period. While they may be more comfortable using online dating apps to meet their needs, the longest average stretch of time without sex for millennials was one month. At most, at least one millennial went nine years in between sessions beneath the sheets.

Intimate objections

the percentage who complain to friends about sexual dry spells by gender an nationality

Despite the average length of time without sex extending from one to two months, our research found most people chose not to complain about their sexual dry spells to friends.

However, it turns out, talking to people about sex can be healthy because it emphasises the emotional aspects of lovemaking and helps normalise the idea that even the best relationships may experience dry spells over time.

We found roughly 21 percent of European women shared their troubles with friends, while 17 percent of European men did the same. But Americans were slightly less apt to these conversations, with 12 percent of women sharing their sexual troubles, and 15 percent of men echoing this sentiment.

Risque responsibility

the percentage who blame themselves for their most recent sexual dry spell

It’s natural to wonder what’s wrong when you aren’t having sex. Is it you? Them? Or is the universe plotting against your next great orgasm?

Our study found European and American women were slightly more likely than men to blame themselves for a sexual dry spell. Over half of survey participants also felt sad when they weren’t having sex, and well over a third said they felt unattractive.

Going through any period without physical intimacy can leave you feeling self-conscious. From the emotional connectedness of being so close to another person to the physical fulfilment that comes from a sexual climax, going through a dry spell can be mentally exhausting.

Roughly 26 percent of women blamed their dry spell on not feeling attractive. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to feel good about yourself and your body when you aren’t having sex to help get you through the next week, month, or year without a good shag.

The golden age of sex

the average length of a relationship before the first sexual dry spell

While dry spells can and do happen to people of every age, we found they tended to occur earlier among younger respondents.

Based on those surveyed who experienced a dry spell in their relationship, millennials experienced sexual droughts almost 2.5 times sooner than baby boomers (five years) – about two years into their relationship – while Gen Xers identified dry spells occurring 3.5 years into a relationship.

Research shows millennials are having less sex than their parents. And the hookup culture precipitated by a younger audience may not have much staying power, which can cause couples to drift away from each other and reduce sexual intimacy much sooner than older couples.

The heart of the matter

dry spells in relationships

Fear not – most men and women have not broken up with their partner or ended a relationship because of a lack of sex. When looking at American and European men, the data were almost identical. At least 86 percent of men in each country saw out the dry times with their partner rather than call it quits. American and European women, however, seemed to have differing opinions.

While 93 percent of American women didn’t allow sex to dictate their relationship status, European women were less tolerant. Seventeen percent of European women decided to put an end to a partnership when the physical intimacy vanished.

How could this have been avoided? By talking! More than 40 percent of men and women highlighted a conversation with their partner as the best way to break a dry spell. This type of chat could even lead to the second best method: new sex positions.

Pleasurable pastimes

the top activities people engage in to cope with a lack of sex

Masturbation was a popular pastime for men and women who experienced a dry spell. Over 60 percent of men and 42 percent of women pleasured themselves when pleasure wouldn’t come to them.

The good news is that even if you’re having intercourse regularly, masturbation can be a healthy way to pass the time regardless. Research shows women who masturbate regularly feel better about their bodies. It can also help lower levels of stress for men and women by releasing endorphins and hormones into the body. It’s a win-win when you might be feeling down about your lack of sexual escapades.

Other key pastimes include exercising, sleeping, and binge-watching TV. When there’s no one to help keep you warm at night, you don’t have any excuse not to catch up on the last season of that Netflix show – even if you finish the entire series over a weekend. Fifteen percent of men spent their time drinking, while 22 percent of women went shopping. For those who spent their evenings drinking, certain health risks can occur after consistent consumption, so it’s important to watch your intake of alcoholic beverages – even if you feel like you don’t have anything better to do with your time.

Criteria for copulation

who's willing to lower their standards for the sake of sex by gender and nationality

It can be hard to endure a sexual dry spell without wondering if your standards are just too high.

Even though going for an extended period without sex made most people feel down about themselves, many European and American women weren’t willing to lower their standards to land a lay. Men admitted they weren’t as picky in their time of need, however.

While 22 percent of European women were willing to bring a below-average date back home, 37 percent of European men would check their pride at the door to end a sexual dry spell.

American women were the pickiest, though, with only 16 percent compromising their integrity, while 47 percent of American men weren’t opposed to a good romp, even if it meant expanding their opinions on a suitable partner.

Twenty-two percent would even call a previous partner to end a sexual drought.

22% of people have called an ex to try and break their sexual dry spell

End the silence, end the spell

Regardless of your age, relationship status, or priorities in life, sexual dry spells do happen. From one month to a year or longer, most people have experienced a prolonged time without sex.

While not everyone admitted to sharing his or her relationship woes with a friend or confidant, the truth is sex is good for you and the secret to better sex can be talking about it.

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We surveyed 1,500 Europeans and Americans about their sex life. When users were asked to enter times in various scenarios, they had the option to enter in the number of days, weeks, months, and years. For the analysis, we converted weeks, months, and years into days. To do this, we multiplied the number of weeks by 7, the number of months by 31, and the number of years by 365. Any answers that were greater than the respondent’s age were excluded from results. All averages presented are the median times.