LIFESTYLE – Is tech getting in the way of your holiday sex?

New research launched today by Durex reveals the stark contrast between couples’ holiday ‘sexpectations’ and what actually goes on when they are away. Worryingly, whilst half (52 per cent) of couples say they expect better sex on holiday, 60 per cent admit that the reality does not meet their expectations.

But just why have couples’ getaways become so disappointing? Well, 40 per cent of people are less likely to instigate sex if their partner is on their phone in bed, which proves problematic as the same percentage (41 per cent) admit nights on holiday together can be spent in bed concentrating on their phones rather than each other. 


‘Digital distraction’, checking phones on holiday, has led to over a quarter (26 per cent) rowing with their partner. Specifically, 59 per cent say that they, their partner or both have too much screen time, and more than half (56 per cent) of those respondents felt their relationship suffers as a result. 72 respondents even admitted to using phones during sex!

A quarter (23 per cent) of couples say their phones and tablets get in the way of their sex life on holiday. In addition, 15 per cent admit they have less sex than they used to whilst away because of their tech.

Social media in particular is making us anti-social with our partners. 65 per cent post up to three times a day whilst away and 42 per cent admit that they share special holiday moments on social media rather than with their partners. Relaxing by the pool or the beach might seem the optimum time to switch off and relax, but almost half said they use phones/tablets at this time, with women being the main offenders (27 per cent more admit to it than men).


So, what can couples do to reconnect on holidays and ditch their digital distractions? Durex Sex & Relationship expert Alix Fox says: “It’s time to take action! Try setting a time limit on how long you can use your handsets for, then turn them off, pop then in the room’s safe and lock them away while you play. Book a wake-up call from reception each morning, so you don’t need to rely on your phone’s alarm. Turn on the Out of Office autoresponse on your mails, and think of it as a message to YOU as well as your colleagues and clients: you are not online, and the 9-5 can and should wait. Rather than viewing your holiday as something you have to broadcast to the masses on social media, delight in keeping aspects of it as special secrets just for the two of you to share – such as what happens in your hotel bed, your shower, your bath tub… Don’t just make media posts; make memories. And make love.” 

57 per cent say they would be more turned on if they knew their partner had turned off their phone to focus on an evening with them on holiday.

To see if these stats were truly reflective of modern relationships, Durex invited real couples on the holiday of a lifetime as part of a filmed social experiment dividing them into couples with and without tech. The resulting film of the #DONOTDISTURB experiment offers every couple around the world a fascinating look at how a tech break can lead to their holiday sexpectations being met:

Dr Sharif Mowlabocus from the Centre of Sexual Dissidence at the University of Sussex conducted accompanying scientific research in response to the survey findings. He found that many couples spoke about the hotel bedroom as a location for intense device use, due to the free WiFi access, rather than a romantic setting. Dr Mowlabocus also indicated that for couples, there is evidence that the use of a device by one partner encourages device use by the other partner”, thus exacerbating the issue.

Dr Mowlabocus concluded, “Participants expressed a strong belief that a holiday should be about switching off – from work, from home and from social media. However, the hotel bedroom, once a place of intimacy, romance and escape, can at times feel more like a frenzied media centre, as the couple rush to upload photos from the day, check in with friends via messenger apps and scroll through newsfeeds to satisfy their longing for their social networks. Perhaps a solution would be to introduce more boundaries, for example phones in the lobby rather than the bedroom, or a time limit on phone use.”

Holidays used to be a time to relax and reconnect with our partners” agrees Volker Sydow, Global Director at Durex. “However, this experiment has shown us that growing reliance on portable technology for entertainment and affirmation, even when on holiday, is blocking our chance to refresh our relationships. Durex are calling on couples to take a break from their tech whilst on holiday and enjoy touching their partner rather than their phone.”  

Should couples go tech-free on holiday? Watch the #DONOTDISTURB experiment here: and find out more, plus have your say, here: