Half of couples are having the same sex problem—and it's ruining things in the bedroom

New research has found that our stiff upper lip when it comes to sex is a real mood killer

older couple in bed together in bed
(Image credit: Getty)

New research has revealed that almost half of couples feel too awkward to talk about sex—citing reasons like embarrassment, lack of vocabulary and lack of time. 

Does even just broaching the subject of sex in conversation with your partner prompt sexual anxiety? Well, you certainly aren't alone, because a new study has found that a staggering 45% of UK couples find talking about the S word with their partner awkward and "cringeworthy". 

According to research conduced by couples app Paired, so reluctant are we as a nation to discuss what we like and don't like in the bedroom, that 42% of people say there is a specific "thing" their partner does during sex that they find to be a "complete turn-off". One in ten people, meanwhile, admitted that this happens every time they get in between the sheets. 

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Sexual technique was found to be the biggest complaint left unsaid—with 35% of people admitting to keeping quiet on the subject—while finishing too quickly (23%) and finding their partner selfish when it comes to sex (23%) followed closely behind. 

The research also found that we're reluctant to open up about our sexual fantasies and desires, as 23% of people said they wished they could introduce the idea of sex toys to their other half (our best vibrator guide could help here) and 19% said that they'd like to have sex outdoors in a public place. 

So what's stopping so many of us from sharing these desires with our spouses? 

“Discussing sex with your partner can be challenging as it requires vulnerability," explains Dr. Marisa T. Cohen, Head of Couple Relationships at Paired. 

"People may need to face insecurities they have (about sex or the relationship in general), or directly confront the perceived fear of rejection."

Unsurprisingly, the research found that our sex lives are suffering because of this reluctance to talk—with 18% of Britons claiming to be completely unsatisfied with their sex life, and just under half saying that though they enjoy sex with their partner, they think it could be better. 

13% of people also said they wished their partner was open to trying a greater variety of the best sex positions.

Dr Cohen's advice to couples struggling to talk openly and honestly about sex?

"Focus on your thoughts, feelings, and needs. Avoid making assumptions about or judging your partner. If something is challenging to discuss, reframe it. Focus on what you want or want more of, rather than what you don't want."

And crucially, she adds, "Avoid comparing your relationship to others or to media portrayals of relationships or sex."

Kate McCusker

Kate is a freelance contributor to woman&home, covering everything she loves most: fashion, fiction, and fancy face cream. If she’s not working, she’s probably reading, feeding her online shopping addiction, or judging the taste level of celebrity houses (10/10 for Dakota Johnson, 2/10 for Tan France).

She graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2020 with a BA in fashion journalism, and her byline has also appeared in British VogueThe Times, and Marie Claire.