Is 'Sex Quitting' Worse Than 'Quiet Quitting'?
A lot has been said about the growing number of people "quiet quitting" their jobs. The term became popular as people reluctantly returned to their workplace after the pandemic lockdown and decided they would put in exactly the amount of effort required for their job and no more.
While it might be worth understanding the psychology behind why this is happening, an even more concerning trend to address is "sex quitting" because it has consequences that could outweigh those of quiet quitting.
People are having less sex than they used to and the magnitude of this trend crosses borders. Sex quitting seems to be an international phenomenon, and independent studies from multiple developed countries indicate similar findings: The number of sexually active teens and adults is on the decline.
In the United States, this can be seen in the findings of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, which reported decreases in all sexual behaviors between 2009 and 2018. The study's data was based on people between the ages of 14 and 49, and the conclusion was that both teens and adults were having less sex.
A similar study in the United Kingdom discovered the same downward trend. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles indicated that sexual frequency has been steadily declining every decade. In 1991, respondents ages 16 to 44 reported an average of five sexual experiences within the previous four weeks; in 2001, the number decreased to four times; and in 2012, it was down to three times.
Sex quitting is real
The U.S. and U.K. aren't the only countries experiencing the revelation of sex quitting, either. Other countries to report a decline in sex include Germany, Italy and Japan, just to name a few.
Other evidence of sex quitting is the declining rate of childbirth. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are seeing the lowest number of annual births since 1979.
Fertility rates in the United States should be a concern, although the numbers are not as low as in other countries also struggling with sex quitting. As a metric, the fertility rate is based on the average number of children a woman is expected to bear in her lifetime. In order to sustain our current population, the fertility rate needs to be at least 2.1. However, the fertility rate fell to 1.64 in 2020.
The conclusion many are reaching is that people are having less sex, fewer children are being born and our population is dwindling. The outcry has been small, but many people are aware of this problem and notable voices have echoed concern over this issue. One of them is the owner of Tesla and Twitter, Elon Musk.
"I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birth rate and the rapidly declining birth rate," he said in a 2021 interview with the Wall Street Journal.
The effects of sex quitting
If quiet quitting could get you fired, sex quitting could end civilization as we know it, according to Musk. And while many experts agree there are no real negative health consequences for people who choose a celibate lifestyle, the fact remains that having safer sex comes with many benefits that people who abstain may miss out on.
"Men's health and life force are greatly diminished by a lack of sexual activity," according to Alexandra Stockwell, M.D., an intimate marriage expert based in San Francisco and the author of the book, "Uncompromising Intimacy." "Specifically, regular sexual activity correlates with being happier as orgasm results in the body being flooded with oxytocin—the 'feel good' hormone—lower risk of prostate cancer, decreased cardiovascular disease, better sleep, enhanced immune function, and greater satisfaction personally and professionally."
Although there were ancient traditions where men opted for celibacy as part of cultivating their spiritual practice of feeling more connected, she explained that there's a modern-day version where men channel their sexual energy into their purpose and mission to become more creative and vitalized. This approach recognizes an orgasm and ejaculation as an expulsion of creative life force best directed into living meaningfully and not squandered in a sexual experience.
Ken Blackman, a relationship and intimacy expert in Las Vegas, explained that abstinence and sex each have different health benefits.
"While regular orgasms are correlated with a lowered risk of prostate cancer, taking a break from sex can raise your testosterone level, which comes with a variety of health benefits of its own," he added.
Bottom line: Is sex quitting worse than quiet quitting?
When people are no longer interested in sex, we see declining birth rates and that may lead to fewer families. The question we may need to ask ourselves is why those attitudes toward work, sex and families have shifted. What's happening may point to something much deeper than quiet quitting and it should concern us all to a certain extent.
"Sex quitting in a relationship is similar to quiet quitting in the workplace, only worse," Blackman said. "A business relationship is a transactional exchange: work done for pay. But a relationship's whole purpose is intimacy and connection. When you quietly decide to withdraw and just go through the motions without talking about it, you're literally not in an intimate relationship anymore. You're much better off communicating and/or overtly exiting the relationship."
Meanwhile, Stockwell explained that it all depends on context.
"In the workforce, in the short term, quiet quitting is worse. In the context of society as a whole, procreation and the general well-being and vitality of humans, sex quitting is worse. However, I view it as more a symptom than a cause of the ills that result. Sex quitting reflects the diminished capacity for human connection, numbness, and overall self-oriented and isolationist behavior. This correlates with less creativity, less capacity for collaboration, less compassion and empathy, less self-expression and less attunement to others," Stockwell said.
"For someone who's not celibate due to principles or spiritual practice, but instead due to a sedentary lifestyle and overall malaise, one of the most potent antidotes is to spend more time in nature, to realign to natural rhythms, to counter virtual reality with true natural reality, and to provide an experience of connectedness and place within the expanse that is nature," she added.