No sex please, we’re French

Is romance dead?

A couple share a romantic moment. Credit: Jacob Lund/

Despite allegedly speaking the language of love, a recent survey has unveiled a shocking downturn in sexual activities in France, especially among the youth.

With St Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this revelation came from an Ifop study commissioned by the sex toy brand Lelo and reported by France Inter, which has challenged the long-held belief in France’s fiery romantic culture.

Hard facts

The research highlighted a sharp drop in sexual intimacy among 18 to 24-year-olds. Twenty-eight per cent of young adults, who have had sexual experiences, reported no sexual intercourse in the past year, a significant rise from five per cent in 2006.

The decline is not restricted to the young, in those aged 50 to 59, thirty-five per cent confessed to  a year without sexual activity, up from ten per cent in 2006.

Across the board, there’s been a 15 per cent fall in sexual activity in the last year compared to 2006, with only seventy-six per cent of sexually active individuals engaging in intercourse.

Carnal desires go soft

Francois Kraus of Ifop’s gender, sexuality, and sexual health unit, noted a shift in societal expectations around sex. ‘Before, the French thought they had to have sex two or three times a week, but today the notion of sobriety, which is fairly widespread, is also reflected in terms of sexuality.’

This change is further evidenced by a decrease in weekly sexual encounters, down to forty-three per cent from fifty-eight per cent in 2009.

The study suggests a growing separation between love and physical intimacy, with over half of adult women and forty-two per cent of men open to a non-sexual cohabitation.

This reflects a broader societal shift away from prioritising an active sex life for personal or relational success.

Passion killers

The digital era is partly blamed for the reduced intensity in sexual relationships, with online engagements competing for time traditionally spent with partners.

‘Sexual time’ is now rivalling screen time, which satisfies social and sexual needs while diminishing in-person interactions.

Kraus notes an increasing trend among French individuals, both men and women, who are distancing themselves from traditional beliefs that active sexual relations are crucial for a fulfilling life or, at the very least, for a stable relationship, indicating a notable change in societal attitudes.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.