Irish Daily Mail

How talking about money is still taboo... but sex isn’t

- By Fiona MacRae

CAN you imagine talking about your sex life with a total stranger? Or what about telling them how much you earn?

If the second conversati­on sounds less awkward to you, you’re in the minority – for it seems we are much happier to spill bedroom secrets than reveal our income, research shows.

Scientists say talking about money may be one of the last taboos in polite conversati­on.

The study of 15,000 men and women by the team from University College London found we are seven times more likely to tell a stranger how many notches are on our bedpost, whether we’ve had an affair and if we’ve ever caught a sexually transmitte­d disease than discuss our salary.

In one of the world’s most detailed scientific surveys about sex, 500 interviewe­rs quizzed people aged 16 to 74 about their sex lives. Most were more than happy to talk; fewer than 3 per cent wouldn’t answer the most personal questions. In contrast, some 20 per cent – one in five – of those quizzed baulked at revealing their salary.

They were asked about their total household income and while it is possible that some did not know, many refused to divulge the informatio­n.

The scientists found that the average woman has had four lovers. This is twice as many as her counterpar­t 20 years ago – but two fewer than the typical man. But, despite having more partners, people have sex less often than in the past. Those who answered the survey in the early 1990s said they had five nights of passion a month – while today the figure stands at three.

Researcher Soazig Clifton said: ‘Most people once they’ve started an interview with us, will tell us anything. They feel so liberated. They are loving talking to a stranger about sex. They’ll tell us about their affairs, all of their partners, they’ll tell us all kinds of different things but the one thing they won’t tell us is how much they earn.’

She said other surveys not about sex also found that people are reluctant to talk about cash.

Etiquette expert William Hanson said: ‘It’s such a vulgar topic that we have, over time, decided that it’s best to not discuss anything about it.

‘This includes salary, how much something cost or where we bought it.

‘Those who have had money in their lives for some time are usually the more embarrasse­d, whereas those who have come into it more recently are usually the more brash.’

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