Lovers | Sex and the State of the Union Survey



SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–It’s the dawn of a new decade and based on new survey insights, it might be a naughty one.

More than half of American adults already own a sex toy and one in four hope to start or expand their collection in 2020, according to the “Sex and the State of the Union” survey conducted by Lovers Family of Stores. When asked which titillating activities adults want to do more of in the year ahead, 32% of participants hope to do the deed in risky or unexpected places, while 22% want to watch adult videos with their partner and 21% want to ratchet up the role playing. The top answer though? 38% simply wish for a romantic, sex-centered evening in with their sweetie.

“As a retailer, we’re beyond thrilled to see the stigma around sex and intimacy lifting!” says VP of Marketing for Lovers Family of Stores Jessica Ivey. “These survey results mirror what we’re experiencing on the retail side: people are less discouraged by their embarrassment and more encouraged by unlocking their pleasure potential when it comes to fun, sex and intimacy.”

So, who exactly is getting down with the get down and what are the trends for 2020? The survey reveals these top stats:

  • 69% of Americans have perceived a positive shift in discussing sex and intimate behaviors openly and honestly in the last decade.
  • Less than half of America is comfortable with gender fluidity or transgender identity, but even so, nearly three-quarters have perceived a shift in the overall social norm and acceptance towards those identifying as queer.
  • 75% of adults are comfortable with the growing movement and support for female sexual empowerment.
  • One-third of adults have either been in, have thought about or talked about being an open relationship.
  • Self-pleasure for men was perceived as 40% less socially accepted over this last decade, while female self-pleasure was perceived as 67% more socially acceptable.
  • Gen Z was daring, but not as daring as Millennials – 77% of Gen Zers said they wanted to try something spicy and new in 2020 compared to 88% of Millennials.
  • Sex shops are alive and well with consumers! 29% reported they’d gladly visit a brick and mortar adult store, and 45% would go to an adult store’s website to shop online.
  • If you’re from the Midwest, it’s most likely you own a sex toy! 69% of Millennials own a sex toy, and nearly half say they will add to their collection in 2020.

Jennie Ketcham Crooks, therapist and anxiety specialist, reviewed these results in-depth and had a unique perspective on the findings. “People are talking about sex more so now than at any other time in history—it’s also everywhere. We see it on television and can access pornographic images on our handheld devices,” said Lovers in-house sexpert Ketcham Crooks. “The mainstream media is more openly discussing all things sex, especially the darker areas of sex after the #MeToo movement, so it makes sense that we are witnessing this uptick in perceived social acceptance. We are actually talking about what’s okay and what isn’t okay, and as a byproduct of that conversation, we end up having open and honest conversations about sexual habits.”

By Movement

Female Sexual Empowerment

58% of females reported owning a sex toy, and with 75% of adults comfortable with the growing movement and support for female sexual empowerment, it’s no wonder we’re seeing a spike in sex toy ownership and less-elusive female orgasm. And, only 10% perceived female sexual empowerment to be less socially accepted than it was a decade ago. You go, girls! According to Lovers’ sexpert Ketcham Crooks, we’ve still got work to do on this front. “Popular culture and the medical field are still trying to debunk the belief that bringing a man to the brink of an orgasm and then not completing the task is dangerous for men’s health. There is no such mythology for women; in fact, we have been socialized to ‘fake it’ if our partner doesn’t do the deed.”

Gender Fluidity

“They” is the 2019 word of the year, but less than half of Americans say they are comfortable with gender fluidity. Unsurprisingly, Millennials and Gen X are the most comfortable—but not as comfortable as you’d think. When responding to this survey, only 57% of Millennials reported being comfortable with gender fluidity and more than one-third of Gen Xers reported being uncomfortable—with 20% of both groups reporting they were “completely uncomfortable” with fluid gender identity. And the “OK Boomer” trend came to life in the results, as we saw a complete flip in opinion between Gen X and Boomers—Boomers reported being 65% uncomfortable and 35% comfortable with transgender identity whereas Gen X reported the exact opposite: 35% uncomfortable and 65% comfortable.

When asked if there had been any perceived change in social acceptance around gender identity, 73% of adults responded that there has been a positive shift in the overall acceptance of gender fluidity.

Open Relationships

One-third of adults have either been in, have thought about or talked about being an open relationship—though survey results show that nearly a quarter of Americans think open relationships are less socially acceptable in the eye of the public than they were a decade ago. Gen Zers and Millennials were most comfortable with the idea of an open relationship, but it was a 50/50 split between the two camps in both age groups.

Ketcham Crooks weighed in on this and said, “This finding is interesting because these are also two generations of individuals for whom mixed families have been normalized. Many of us (as a Millennial myself) witnessed our parents’ attempts at monogamy fail and became open to less traditional familial relationship constructs. It may also be that, due to the internet and ease of access to information, we are exposed to all of the ways relationships can look.”

Sex Toy Ownership

Americans who took this survey like their trinkets and toys, and those who own them proved to be most open and adventurous when it came to all things sex. 20% of sex-toy owners are looking for some backdoor action in 2020, along with 38% who are interested in a new position or technique to try in the bedroom. Almost half of all sex toy owners also reported they are looking to add a new gadget to their bedside drawer next year and are equally as likely to visit a retail store as they are to look online for information on their next boudoir purchase.

By Gender

Self-pleasure for men was perceived at 40% less socially accepted over this last decade, while female self-pleasure was perceived as 67% more socially acceptable. Males are more likely to perceive that sexual health is connected to their overall wellbeing than females are, and both sexes were equally interested in adding a new toy and romance to their 2020 routines. Males also reported engaging in open relationships nearly twice as much as females.

By Generation

69% of Millennials own a sex toy, and surprisingly, Gen Z was daring, but not as daring as Millennials—77% said they wanted to try something sexually new in 2020 compared to 88% of Millennials (…but 28% of Gen Z did say they wanted to try anal for the first time!). Gen Xers and Millennials are the romantics—with nearly half wishing to add more romance to their sex lives for 2020. When it came to try new things in their sex lives, Boomers encapsulate the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as only 37% of Boomers said they wanted to try something new in 2020 to spice things up.

Ketcham Crooks explains, “The Gen Z demographic are likely encountering a variety of new experiences at this phase of life; breaking away from parents, going to college, meeting new people from different backgrounds and being exposed to new ideas. It can be helpful and less intimidating to take this phase of extreme change one beat at a time.”

By Region

If you live in the Midwest, you’re more likely to own a sex toy than any other region, and you’re also least likely to be comfortable with transgender or gender fluidity. Those who were most satisfied with their sex lives live in the West, with those who are least satisfied reside in the Midwest and Northeast. And, it’s possible you have or are engaging in an open relationship if you live in the Northeast—over a fifth of Northeasterners reported doing so at some point in their lives.

A Look Back: A Decade in Review

Overall, Americans feel that an array of sexual behaviors are in general becoming more and more socially accepted (even if they do not necessarily agree with the behaviors on a personal level). The big takeaways from the last decade:

  • Americans see the most change in acceptance for sexual female empowerment and talking about sex openly in the past decade.
  • Of the 11 behaviors listed, more than half of Americans have seen change in every movement except polyamory, self-pleasure for men, and involvement in sex clubs/parties.
  • Millennials are more likely to say various behaviors are more socially accepted, such as sexting (71%), purchasing adult toys (71%), and sex clubs (49%).

On behalf of Lovers, CITE Research conducted an online survey among 1,000 U.S. adults representative of the U.S. Census population. Respondents were screened to match the U.S. Census on, gender, age, ethnicity, region, household income, region and marital status.

About Lovers

The Lovers Family of Stores is a sex-positive, judgment-free, fetish-friendly community dedicated to enhancing your sexual pleasure—whatever pleasure you pick. Mother-daughter duo Phylis Heppenstall and Kriss Butt founded Lovers in 1981 under the belief that everyone has a right to great sex, regardless of gender identification, race, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. Our 43 locations span across Washington, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, and California under A Touch of Romance, Christal’s, and Lovers. Each store offers high-quality toys, curated products, and education to help you consensually fulfill your desires. Maybe it’s time you finally realized that fantasy—you know the one. Satisfy your curiosity at or on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


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