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Nicole is an on-screen relationship and mental health expert as well as a psychological consultant for TV shows.

How your phone is impacting your sex life and relationships

August 14 2017

By Dani-Elle Dube

Now more than ever people are integrating technology into their sex and love lives and it’s changing the way the dating game is played, a new report by the Kinsey Institute and ovulation tracker app Clue says.

The worldwide study – which surveyed over 140,000 people in 198 different countries – looks at how adults (over the age of 18) around the world are using technology when it comes to dating, sexual relationships and even sexual education.

“[The results from the survey] are really not that surprising,” relationship expert Nicole McCance says, who wasn’t involved in the study. “I think the reason why we use technology and why it’s playing such a big part in our sex and romantic lives is because it works. We’re so busy and it’s just a really fast, easy and effective way to meet people or to spice up our love lives.”

However, McCance warns that while technology can be beneficial for one’s sex and love life, it can also be detrimental. So find that balance, she says.

“It’s good within reason,” McCance explains. “If you’re educating yourself, putting yourself out there to find someone or investing in connecting with your current partner then it’s absolutely good. But when it comes to that actual connection piece where you’re together now with your partner, then it’s time to turn your phone off.”

So just how are people around the world incorporating technologies like apps into this aspect of their lives?

Finding a date

According to the report, 30 per cent of respondents say they use a dating app. And while it may be believed that such apps are often used to hookup, 15 per cent of people who use such apps are using them to find a partner while only 10 per cent are using them to search for one-night stands.

“Using apps to find either long-term or short-term partners, but not friends with benefits, may signal a reliance on tech [and] apps for either commitment or spontaneity, but not for regular sex with no romantic connection,” Amanda Gesselman, research scientist at the Kinsey Institute, says in a statement.

When comparing the world, Swedes are most likely to use an app to find a partner with 46 per cent saying they have used a dating app. Only 21 per cent say they’ve used it for a hookup or one-night stand.

Russians, on the other hand, are the least likely to use apps for hookups with only three per cent saying they’ve done so.

“I find it most compelling that while apps are so common in so many countries and cultures, technology doesn’t yet dominate our sex lives and relationship,” Ida Tin, CEO and co-founder of Clue, said in a statement. “Instead, it’s part of the whole picture.”

Learning about sex

When it comes to becoming savvier about the dirty deed, 18 per cent of respondents say they’ve turned to an app to learn about sexual topics.

However, those with sexual experience are still just as likely to use an app to learn about sex and intimacy as those with no experience (19 per cent vs. 17 per cent, respectively).

“Sexual lives are constantly evolving, and this signals a sort of ‘lifelong learning’ aspect,” Gesselman said. “Regardless of their experience level, people feel like there’s more to learn and are seeking out that knowledge to create better experiences.”

Singaporeans are the least likely to consult an app for sexual education purposes (11 per cent). The Chinese, however, are the most likely (32 per cent)

The country that’s more likely to use apps for sexual educational purposes is China, the report shows (32 per cent). Breaking it down by gender, it’s revealed that men (27 per cent) are the most likely to use such apps compared to women (18 per cent).

“Cultural norms of masculinity make it difficult to speak to friends about these issues,” Gesselman said. “This finding shows that men are looking for other ways to learn about sexual intimacy.”

Sexting

If there’s one thing that really gets people’s engines revving, it’s sexting. In fact, 67 per cent of respondents say they have sexted before, with 41 per cent reportedly using SMS text messaging as the medium.

Snapchat is another app lovers love to use, however it’s the younger generation that seems to be embracing it more than their older counterparts.

For example, 42 per cent of 18 to 20-year-olds choose Snapchat as their sexting medium of choice, followed by 21- to 24-year-olds (31 per cent) and 25- to 34-year-olds (16 per cent). That’s compared to only five per cent of people ages 34 to 44 and three per cent of those ages 45 to 54 who say they use it for sexting.

“I think sexting is great as long as you’re not a minor,” McCance says. “For those that are adults, it’s like foreplay during the day – this tease. People sext because they can. Before text we were only having these conversations with ourselves but now you can communicate with your partner without anybody else knowing at any time you have a sexy thought.”

Those who live in Japan and South Korea are least like to send a sexy text (34 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively), while people in South Africa and the U.S. are more likely to send a sext (77 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively).

Relationships

Sexy apps aren’t just reserved for the single ladies and men, couples are using such technologies to help their relationship along as 12 per cent of respondents saying they use apps to improve their sexual relationships.

Men are much more likely to use these apps to improve their sexual relationships (23 per cent), and they’re more likely to use them to get comfortable with their partners’ bodies (four per cent vs. two per cent).

“I notice more men are using these apps because they are wanting to pleasure and please their partners,” McCance says. “The apps provide them with this confidence because they can go on and do some research and not tell their partner and feel like a stud in the bedroom because they have this information.”

Sexual activity

Why would 40 per cent of respondents want to track their sex lives?

According to the report, people are relying on technology to keep tabs on how often they have sex and the number of partners they encounter. What they don’t use it for, however, is for more “private aspects of the experience, like bodily and health facets, Gesselman said.

For example, only three per cent use an app to track sexual satisfaction and only one per cent use an app to track sexually transmitted diseases.

“This may be a resistance to tech in such a personal and potentially damning information being leaked,” she said. “Or it could be a reflection of how women are socialized to think about what sex is and isn’t for — with women’s pleasure ranking lower on the list.”

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                Nicole McCance Psychology

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