Our grannies would sob into their gin at this waste of our sexual freedom

We’re a soft oul bunch, all the same. A whopping 91% of us want to be in a committed, lasting relationship. And it’s not just women.

The INM / Today FM Behaviour & Attitudes Survey released this week surveyed 1,005 Irish people between 20 and 49. Even the spring chickens of the survey – aged 20 to 29 – just want someone to love.

This is a survey I’d love to show to a committed bachelor friend of mine in his mid-30s, who won’t go near a woman his own age, because they “smell of wedding cake”. No, I didn’t make that up. And yes, ladies, he is still single. Don’t all run at once.

The most surprising aspect of the survey, is that the average number of sexual partners is reasonably conservative – there are very few of us swinging from the light fittings with someone different every night, or even every year. 8.5 is the average number of sexual partners per person, while 32% of us have had between one and three partners.

This varies across age groups, with the number rising, but only slightly, as people get older. The number of partners is higher for men, although not by much, and higher for people in Dublin than outside.

We might have deserted the Church, but it seems most of us are still being driven by the personal morality – or fear – Catholic educations instilled in us. I can almost guarantee you every girl that went to my school is on the low end, partners-wise, after the talk on STDs we got in fifth year, illustrated with graphic photographs of diseased organs. The boys played soccer while we watched each other for signs of fainting. More effective than chastity belts any day.

From The Herald, Wednesday 13 November.

The age at which most people – a surprisingly high 37% – believe young people should become sexually active is 17 or under. That percentage is lower the older you go, with the majority of people between 40 and 49 believing 18 is the appropriate age.

It’s a far cry from comely maidens dancing at the crossroads while maintaining their virginal status until they are married. But there’s nothing wrong with a happy medium.

Given that our real lives are so tame, there has to be some bit of pzazz in all of this, and it’s to be found in the question of celebrity fantasies. Asked who they would like a ‘no strings,’ fling with, most women would pick someone old enough to be our dad. That is, George Clooney.

The men at the top of our wish lists are Brad Pitt (49), Clooney (52), and Johnny Depp (50). Now, I wouldn’t turn any of them away from my front door if they came looking for a bowl of sugar, but it does imply a lack of emerging talent – or a major Daddy complex among the young women of Ireland.

Poor Colin Farrell hardly got a look in, with a measly 1% choosing him; I blame the dodgy ponytail thing he sported for a while. Ponytail plus Kabbalah bracelets does not a sex symbol make.

The men’s choices start rather younger, with Mila Kunis (30) and Scarlett Johanssen (28) in the lead. What might be surprising, for us ladies, however, is that Angelina Jolie (38), and Sandra Bullock (49) also feature, so we know sex appeal’ s upper age limit is only slightly lower for women. Phew.

Was the liberated Ireland we thought had arrived during the Celtic Tiger just a figment of imaginations hyped up by fast cars and strong drink, or a bubble that burst along with the economy?

It seems there are a lot more of us in our 20s and 30s spending our nights by the fire, knitting and watching a baking competition, than out on the prowl. Our grannies would be delighted.

At least, some of our grannies would. Any of them that fought for sexual liberation would probably be crying into their gin at the waste of it all on the ungrateful youth of today.


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