In Brief

The impact Brexit is having on Britain’s sex life

Vote to leave EU has caused a spike in anxiety, splits, divorces and sexless couples

Political uncertainty and tension caused by Brexit has caused a spike in anxiety, splits and divorces among couples and a rise in sexless relationships.

The effects of the EU referendum on mental health over the past three years have been well documented, with an increase in the number of EU citizens expressing suicidal thoughts on Facebook and a rise in the number of farmers contacting crisis networks for help as they struggle to deal with the economic impact of both Brexit just two examples of increased anxiety caused by the vote to leave.

Researchers at the London School of Economics found a statistically significant increase in mental distress since the 2016 referendum, principally among people who voted to remain in the EU, who reported symptoms ranging from trouble concentrating to unhappiness, depression and feelings of worthlessness.

Using the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), which produced more than 38,000 data points before and after the referendum, researchers at the University of Warwick found evidence that Remainers suffered “Brexit Blues” in the aftermath of the vote equivalent to a chronic migraine. By contrast, those who voted leave saw their wellbeing – as measured by life satisfaction – improve.

Now it appears anxiety is even extending into the bedroom. In an article on Maschable Rachel Thompson details the lives of 20 people whose sex lives had been affected by Brexit.

“Some say their sex drives have dwindled due to the stress Brexit is causing them. Some have even filed for divorce after their partner voted differently than they did. Some have remained (pun intended) with their partners, but feel too angry about things to have sex with them,” she concluded.

The London Evening Standard reported last year that relationship advice service Relate had recorded a rise in couples seeking counselling for Brexit-based domestic disputes, while eHarmony found 1.6 million people had ended a romance after arguing about the referendum.

Earlier this month, Irish Central reported that therapists have blamed an increase in the number of sexless couples in Ireland on a surge in anxiety levels related to the current political uncertainty.

Identifying the ever-increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit - and its potentially dire implications for the Irish economy - as being a major cause for a rise in sexual anxiety among long-term couples, marriage counsellors have “noted that Irish couples are increasingly citing financial worries and concerns over job security after Britain leaves the EU as major factors that have taken a toll on their relationships”.

Men, in particular, tend to be most affected, with many too stressed to show intimacy to their partner.

Tony Moore, who runs Talking Point Counselling in Portlaoise, Co. Laois, told the news site: “Brexit has been awful for relationships, and in many cases is impacting negatively on couples and those with families. It's made people worry about the future more and their job security, and that creates anxiety and depression.”

Some have even suggested that Brexit could be partly to blame for Britain’s declining birth rate, after official figures released yesterday revealed the number of babies born in England and Wales last year had fallen 3.2% from the previous year and 10% from 2012.

Yet “every cloud has a silver lining” says Politico, citing one Remainer in the Mashable article who says he has recently discovered the joys of what Thompson calls the “Brexit horn”.

“Now in a relationship and sex is actually more frequent, as we both seek sensory escape from the ever-growing despair”, he said.


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