FEATURE: The Food of Love: Is Music a Way of Rekindling Britain’s Waning Sex Life?




The Food of Love

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Is Music a Way of Rekindling Britain’s Waning Sex Life?


MAYBE it is not a shock to discover...

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that there is a proportion of people in Britain not having a lot of sex. Perhaps it is shocking British people have sex at all: the rest of the world sees us as reserved, stiff of upper lip (and nothing else) and closed-off. Although we are not as ‘prolific’ as other nations and are more private regarding our personal lives and sexual habits, it seems like the pace of modern life is getting in the way. The Internet and social media are taking over and we spend so much time on laptops or on our phones. When we are not working, how many of us have the energy to go out and socialise, let alone engage in anything else?! Maybe the statistics do not apply to teens and the middle-aged but it seems like there is a sector of British life that is ignoring sex…or simply does not have the time. This revelation made the news earlier this month and, as The Independent reports, maybe our stressed lives and busy working hours is curtailing how much sex we are having:

 “British people are having less sex than in previous years, with scientists blaming the decline on the internet and the ”busyness” of modern life.

According to new data, fewer than half of Britons have sex at least once a week, and rates are dwindling.

The steepest declines were among people over the age of 25 and those who were married or living together, said researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

They analysed data for more than 34,000 men and women aged 16 to 44 who completed the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles in 1991 (Natsal-1), 2001 (Natsal-2) and 2012 (Natsal-3). 

The data showed a general decline in sexual activity in Britain between 2001 and 2012, with the steepest declines among the over-25s and those who were married or living together.

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Overall, the proportion reporting no sex in the past month fell between the first and second surveys (from 28.5 per cent to 23 per cent in women and from 30.9 per cent to 26 per cent in men) but increased significantly in the final 2012 survey (to 29.3 per cent in women and 29.2 per cent in men).

The proportion reporting sex 10 times or more in the past month increased between the first two surveys (from 18.4 per cent to 20.6 per cent in women and from 19.9 per cent to 20.2 per cent in men), but fell in the final survey to 13.2 per cent in woman and 14.4 per cent in men.

Overall, 41 per cent of men and women had sex once a week or more in the last month, the most recent survey showed.

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the authors said: “Our data show that sexual frequency fell in Britain between Natsal-2 and Natsal-3.

“The most recent Natsal data show that fewer than half of men and women aged 16 to 44 have sex at least once a week”.

That is a lot of data to digest and it is always hard reading statistics and seeing whether it is flawed or reliable. From what we have seen, it seems like there is a correlation between the pressure of our lives and how much sex we are having.

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We are all busier nowadays and it seems like, when we do get some free time, it is spent binging on T.V. or on the Internet. Whilst the lack of sex might be good for controlling population rates, does this mean that we unhappier and more stressed? Not that this article is a bawdy and explicit need to talk about sex but, seriously, the signs are not good: we are becoming more depressed, tense and, really, less relaxed. This is all bad and I do think that there is a serious side to all of this. Not only are relationships – among those of a certain age – less physical, there is also this danger that many are not actually engaging with one another at all. If we are all too tired or preoccupied then are the figures above going to get any worse?! One might say substituting one form of entertainment for another – T.V. for music – is not helping the problem or providing a solution. I do think there is a social aspect to T.V. but, for the most part, people veg-out and then go to bed. We may discuss T.V. shows or what we are streaming on Netflix but maybe that type of distraction is not what we need. Stick with me on this one but it is clear that we are all working too hard and definitely need to unwind.

If you spend your days toiling with work and commuting; come home, stick on some T.V. or spend all evening online, what does the rest of the night hold? You are not more relaxed and, if anything, your brain does not have chance to switch off and decompress. Sex is a way of releasing endorphins and providing release but, in terms of relationships, it is a key component. If couples are more distant and not as physical then does that have long-term effects? It is no coincidence that, since the advent and proliferation of streaming services like Netflix, we are spending less time socialising or having a sex life. It is not an epidemic but there is this bleak picture: couples not really talking or acting more like friends that lovers. The research conducted is not signalling a pacifism or abstinence from young couples but there is this indication that we lack the necessary energy and requisite desire that there was as recently as a few years ago. Where does music come into this, then? People are saying they would like to have more sex and, when it comes to the drop in figures, it is not people keeping their virginity: it is once-active people have less sex. Fears and anxieties around the world are adding to the pressure and, as we escape more into social media and fantasy, we are neglecting our sex lives.

One of the great things about music – if you do not take into consideration music videos – is that there is not the visual distraction of the Internet or T.V. Unless you are drooling over some great cover art (and why not!) it is this sonic experience; one can use music as a direct stimulus or have it on in the background. It seems like a more immersive experience and more sociable. I am not suggesting people go to bars, listen to music and have sex there but, when at home, it seems like two bird can be killed with one stone – or The Rolling Stones, perhaps! Music is a way to de-stress and unwind and there is this huge emotional relief. Music can make us feel less anxious and it can provide us motivation and energy. I often get sapped from a tiring day at work and, when getting back, I put on some great music and it makes me feel lighter, more optimistic and recharges the batteries. Music alone cannot take us from drained to hyperactive that easily – I think all of us are more tired generally than we used to be – but there is something beyond mere science and biology regarding music. I have heard many stories from couples about how they met and what makes them so connected. More than any film, T.V. show or anything else, it is music that provides that unity and sense of passion.

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Whether it is their love of a particular album or going to gigs, they fell in love because of their shared tastes in music. Many other couples find it can be quite intimidating or staid initiating any sexual congress in silence or in any other situation. Music unites the masses and it is its own language; it provokes tears and laughter and, for many, represents fond memories and happier times. I think a lot of our modern anxiety is linked to the possible future and how bleak everyone says everything is. Not only can great music, past or present, provide some escapism or needed optimism but the value of nostalgia can unlock a part of our brain that is currently obsessing over climate change, political strife and the strains of work. Not only are we are busier but we are more stressed and depressed than we used to be. The modern world is a tough place and there is a clear attraction to music. Music itself is a powerful aphrodisiac – as Shakespeare famously wrote – and it can be a real source of attraction between couples/lovers. There have been numerous studies through the years that state how music makes us more active and a shared love of certain bands/albums can create that missing spark. Obscure Sound went into more detail in this feature from 2015:

“…Adding weight to all of that is the other McGill University study that reveals that listening to music can also lead to arousal, among other feelings. So you’re not only feeling increased levels of pleasure but also arousal while listening to music and taking part in some activity (like, um, sex). If the bit about being aroused by music sounds kind of strange, you’re not alone. However, if you are actually aroused when listening to music, you’re also not alone—not by a long shot. 

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Adam and Eve revealed in a new infographic on sex, drugs, and music that 40 percent of the people they surveyed are more turned on by music than their partner’s touch. So, there’s your proof, doubters; people can get more out of music than someone holding their hand or rubbing their shoulders.

Now that there’s some science to it, what about the music these people listen to that is inspiring such feelings? Music streaming service Spotify revealed some of their own findings in this regard, and it appears that there’s a pretty wide variety of preference out there when it comes to “in the bedroom” music”.

Not only can music help reignite passion in an existing relationship but, as we know, a person’s taste in music can compensate for ‘shortcomings’ when it comes to their looks and personality. A man does not have to look like Tom Hardy to attract women/men. The sheer attractiveness of someone who shares the same musical tastes and speaks the same language can, in itself, be incredibly potent.

I was reading an article from Elite Daily, as one does, and they talked about couples who listen to music and how they have more sex than couples who do not.

According to a study done by Sonos, the smart speaker system, 67 percent of couples that listen to music out loud together report having more sex than couples who don't listen to music together. The reason is that when you listen to music out loud, your neurons (nerve cells that transmit information throughout the body) begin operating at the same rate as your partner's, which releases oxytocin (the love hormone). Oxytocin is also responsible for feelings of trust so, naturally, things become more intimate between you and your partner when there's music on in the bedroom.

Turns out, 18 percent of people also admit to dropping the L-bomb because of a song they heard. This number is even higher for people who claim to listen to music out loud on a regular basis. TBH, I'd be lying if I said I've never considered proposing to the first person I see when an Ed Sheeran song comes on. Unsurprisingly, there's another chemical reaction going on when this happens. The combination of oxytocin (the love hormone) as a result of being with your partner and serotonin (the happiness hormone) as a result of listening to your favorite song means good vibes all around.

Literally. Neurochemistry aside, of the 30,000 households surveyed, 18 percent of couples say that music makes sex better. For them, the benefit of listening to music during sex is the rhythmic coordination it allows for. They explain that it provides the perfect soundtrack for getting busy, just like in the movies. It's no surprise, then, that you can (and you should) craft a sex playlist inspired by your favorite celebrities.

It's worth pointing out that 39 percent of people also say they enjoy listening to music more than having sex. Yikes! So, if you feel like something's missing from your love life, it might just be a Grammy-nominated soundtrack... for sex, of course. I'd suggest getting started on your playlist ASAP. Have you ever heard "Ride" by Chase Rice?

Literally. Neurochemistry aside, of the 30,000 households surveyed, 18 percent of couples say that music makes sex better. For them, the benefit of listening to music during sex is the rhythmic coordination it allows for. They explain that it provides the perfect soundtrack for getting busy, just like in the movies. It's no surprise, then, that you can (and you should) craft a sex playlist inspired by your favorite celebrities”.

Obviously, sexy and sensual music itself is designed to increase libido but it is not as simple as turning on some music and every problem being resolved. One does not simply lose their inhabitations and burdens when they put on music.

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The ‘sex problem’ facing many young people/couples will not go anywhere soon but music definitely has a way of bringing us together and creating this incredible charge of attraction. Not only can shared tastes and similar musical loves renew bonds between couples and speak louder than anything else, there is that social element. Again, I am not proposing people have sex at gigs – that would violate health and safety and public decency – but, whether you are single or in a relationship, going out and seeing artists perform bonds us. Not only do we get the release of being in a lively environment and letting music coarse through our bodies but, for those single and looking for like-minded souls, gigs are a great source of guidance. It might be easy saying all of this and I do know that venues are closing and a lot of us do not have the energy to go out or the money to do so. I am suggesting we spend a few hours a week going out and seeing live music or, if not that, putting away devices and staying off the Internet. Music can provoke conversation and fond memories; we all can recall how music came into our lives and, when we hear music that stimulates various regions of the brain, the chemical reaction is instant and powerful. The sheer act of talking about music and having that common connection is a powerful aphrodisiac and it is something we do not necessarily get with T.V. or social media.

I am not sure whether the over-twenty-fives – the group seeing a steep decline in sex – are just finding responsibilities and the balance of life a bit too taxing and draining. Whist social media and T.V. can provide some escape and relaxation at the end of a day, music is more sociable and I think it can a solution, however temporary, to a very real problem. Not having sex is okay but it is a shame there is a noticeable decline and I wonder what affect it is having on our emotional, physical and psychological well-being. I think anything that can make us happier and more refreshed as people should be encourage and something as fundamental as sex should not be left on the shelf. Music should not just be about us listening through headphone or on our phones when we commute. I do worry that, whereas we used to listen to music together and share it in a physical form, now we are more used to going to gigs on our own or listening to music online. Maybe it is time to spend a bit of time off of the Internet and let our ears and minds be seduced. As I said, it is a case of killing two birds with one stone: we get to listen to music (with our other halves or when we are starting a relationship) and there is that chemistry and release we find when music plays; when we find someone whose musical mind ticks the same of us and, on a base level, when a fantastic song makes us feel relaxed, happy and…well, you can do the rest. Music is not a permanent or long-term solution when it comes to reversing the figures (and our sex drives) but it can help rekindle a flame, passion and physicality that have been sapped by the workaday life and the Internet. If we compel to make some small changes realise just how powerful and important music is, future reports regarding the sex life of the British public could be…         

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VERY different indeed!