It’s hard to want to get naked if you’re already freezing your nips off in your flat – but if you’ve found rising heating bills (and costs in general) have deflated your sex drive, perhaps you can at least take comfort in knowing you’re far from alone.
A newly launched report by sex health and wellness brand Hims, looking into British people’s sex lives, found that the cost of living crisis has had an even bigger impact on our love lives than the pandemic.
'If you are in a housing situation which is stressfully unstable, if you’re having to work around the clock until you’re knackered, or if your health is impacted by poverty, you may well have less time and inclination for sex,' explains sex educator, Alix Fox.
It seems obvious once it’s been said - with all of us working, worrying, house-sharing, and scrimping more, of course we have less energy, time, and mental capacity to want to get down and dirty.
According to the report, nearly half of respondents (Hims asked 3688 nationally representative people between 18-65), said that at least one economic or political event in the last year had affected their sex lives.
The cost of living crisis was the most commonly cited factor, with 32% of respondents saying it has had an effect on their dating and sex lives. In contrast, the number of people (48%) who said they were satisfied with their sex lives before the pandemic did not change when asked again after it (although that number dipped by 8% during the two years of lockdown).
With the average cost of a pint creeping up to an eye watering £5.99 these days, more people are tightening their belt when it comes to dating too: 22% of respondents said they’d spent less on dates in the last year.
Because of all this, the cost of living crisis may be creating a ‘love gap’, with those worse affected experiencing more barriers to romance and sexual satisfaction. Those who had lower incomes or economic prospects before the economic downturn, such as people from marginalised and working class communities were generally worse off - and in turn, tend to expect less satisfaction from sex and relationships, a phenomenon known as ‘erotic inequality’.
'If you have access to money, that gives you access to more security and things that ease day-to-day life,' explains Fox, also as part of the report. 'You are more likely to have a comfortable, private, and safe living situation. Your relationships might be easier because you’re less stressed about cash, so you’re not arguing about paying the bills.'
Housing instability seems to be having a ripple effect on our relationships - with singles being hardest hit. Housesharing or living with parents for longer may also be one of the reasons why Gen Z are having sex later in life, as well as having less of it once they do start. The singles’ tax may mean single people have less spare cash to find love (or at least, someone to split the bills with) too, leaving people in a romantic stalemate.
On the other side of the coin, rising costs may be trapping people - particularly women - in toxic or abusive relationships they can’t afford to leave. 'For women, sharing housing and finances with their abuser, cost of living increases have created a new barrier to leaving,' writes Sarah Davidge, head of Research and Evaluation at Woman’s Aid in a statement on their website. 'Almost three quarters of this group (73%) said that the cost of living crisis had either prevented them from leaving or made it harder for them to leave.'
We know things are tough out there right now, so if you’re looking for free support with your mental health, services are available through Mind.
For confidential support and advice about intimate partner violence or financial abuse, you can call Refuge’s Freephone 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or access their livechat here.