How Romance and Social Networking make Things Complicated

By RSCG Worldwide, Special for US Daily Review.

Euro RSCG Worldwide’s annual Valentine’s Day survey explores the impact of social networking on romantic relationships and uncovers significant differences in the sex lives and desires of Americans based on politics and social media preferences.

When the Internet first was opened to public use, it was widely assumed that pornography would be its biggest draw. And for years it was. Today, in contrast, social media is the primary reason for having an Internet account—and social networking is having a significant impact on how we meet people and develop our relationships.

A majority of the 1,000 online Americans Euro RSCG surveyed earlier this month say online dating has become mainstream, and just about half (49 percent) know someone whose relationship started with online interactions. Four in 10 admit to having flirted with someone online; a quarter of the sample say they’ve experienced strong feelings of attraction for someone on the Internet; and around 1 in 5 (19 percent—and 22 percent of those aged 18-34) say they’ve actually had a romantic, sexual, or erotic relationship online.

While not everyone actively uses the Internet as a hunting ground for love and lust, the effects of interactions online are beginning to spill over into offline lives as more people spend more time on social media sites:

  • 73 percent of Americans believe having a strongly sexual relationship with someone online counts as cheating.
  • Around a third (32 percent) know someone whose offline relationship ended because of their actions online. The number rises to 39 percent among the 18-34 cohort (millennials).
  • 69 percent say the Internet has made it easier for people to cheat on their partners.
  • 35 percent acknowledge that relationships online can prove too much of a distraction to offline relationships.
  • 11 percent of women and 18 percent of millennials admit to having “stalked” an ex on social media networks.
  • And around a third of men (31 percent) and 14 percent of women say images online have actually influenced how they think about sex.

“These numbers show we’ve passed several milestones in the evolution of the Web,” says Norm Yustin, president Euro RSCG Chicago Group. “In the early days of the Internet, lots of people used chat rooms to flirt or engage in what we used to call ‘cybersex’—but it was largely with strangers and without any intention of carrying over the relationship into the real world. What people did online stayed online, for the most part. Now our two worlds are blended, and the people we meet online and how we behave on social networks is affecting us at home and at work—for good or bad. We’ll continue tracking this evolution to see just how far millennials and the generations to follow will push it—and to better understand all its implications for society and for marketers.”

Are You Too Sexy for Facebook?
Our study uncovered some interesting disparities between how active Facebook and Twitter users perceive themselves in the areas of sex and romance.

  • 40 percent of daily Twitter users describe themselves as “sexy,” compared with just 28 percent of people who use Facebook every day.
  • 42 percent of active tweeters (vs. 33 percent of active FBers) say they’re “sexually adventurous.”
  • 33 percent of tweeters (vs. 28 percent of FBers) pride themselves on being “skilled lovers.”
  • When asked whether they would choose to have only sex or only romance for the rest of their lives, tweeters were significantly more likely to choose sex: 41 percent vs. 33 percent of FB users.
  • 55 percent of tweeters vs. 46 percent of FBers have sex at least once a week.
  • More than a quarter of tweeters (26 percent) vs. 16 percent of FBers think they masturbate more often than most people they know.
  • 21 percent of tweeters vs. 14 of FBers sometimes worry that their sexual fantasies and behaviors aren’t “normal.”
  • 14 percent of tweeters vs. 9 percent of FBers admit that sex—or thinking about sex—sometimes interferes with their jobs.

“Facebook has always been about friendship and community,” says Tom Morton, chief strategic officer, Euro RSCG New York, “and so it’s probably no surprise to see that its membership differs from that of networks like Twitter, which offers a very different type of social and nonsocial interaction. One might argue that Facebook has relationships at its core, while Twitter has individuals at its.”

Want Sexual Adventure? Date a Democrat.
In this election year, we couldn’t help but wonder whether stereotypes of prudish Red State-ers and anything-goes Blue State-ers hold true. It turns out they do, though the sexual gap runs nowhere near as deep as the socio-political divide.

  • 34 percent of respondents living in Blue States (Blues) describe themselves as “sexually adventurous,” compared with only around a quarter (26 percent) of Red State-ers (Reds).
  • 27 percent of Reds vs. just 17 percent of Blues believe it’s wrong to have sex prior to marriage. That seems rather theoretical, given that only 6 percent of Reds and 5 percent of Blues actually lost their virginity on their wedding night. In a possible loophole, 14 percent of Reds and 9 percent of Blues did have sex for the first time with the person they ultimately married, though prior to vows being exchanged, meaning that 1 in 5 Reds could argue for some share of the moral high ground when it comes to premarital sex.
  • Is purple the color of romance? If they could have only one for the rest of their lives, 32 percent of Reds and 37 percent of Blues, compared with just 28 percent of people living in Purple States (swing states, leaning neither strongly Democrat nor Republican) chose sex over romance. Nearly three-quarters of Purples (72 percent) vs. 68 percent of Reds and 63 percent of Blues chose a lifetime of romance instead.
  • Reds are significantly less tolerant of homosexuality—though this has become a minority viewpoint even in Republican-leaning states: 39 percent of Reds vs. just 29 percent of Blues believe it is wrong to engage in homosexual sex.

Additional findings:

  • 68 percent of Americans would prefer to have a partner who’s unattractive but great in bed rather than the reverse.
  • If they could only choose one for the rest of their lives, 47 percent of men and 19 percent of women would choose sex; 53 percent of men and 81 percent of women would opt for romance instead.
  • 16 percent of millennials have dumped someone via text message.
  • 1 in 5 millennials (19 percent) has posed for nude photos or taken nude photos of their partner, and 30 percent have received via mobile phone a naked picture of someone they know.
  • 33 percent of the overall sample (39 percent of men vs. 27 percent of women) believe it’s wrong to engage in homosexual sex—this is down from 42 percent of the overall sample in a U.S. survey conducted by Euro RSCG in 2002.
  • A quarter of the American men (24 percent) worry they’re not very good in the sack.
  • Want more sex? Go northeast, young men (and women): 28 percent of respondents who live in the northeastern United States have sex several times a week or just about every day, compared with 20 percent in each of the other regions (Central, South, West). Moreover, just 12 percent of people in the Northeast think it’s wrong to have sex prior to marriage, compared with 20 percent or more in each of the other regions.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via #DigitalLove.

About Euro RSCG Worldwide
Euro RSCG Worldwide is a leading integrated marketing communications agency and was the first agency to be named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age and Campaign in the same year. Euro RSCG is made up of 233 offices in 75 countries and provides advertising, marketing, corporate communications, and digital and social media solutions to clients, including Air France, BNP Paribas, Charles Schwab, Citigroup, Danone Group, Heineken USA, IBM, Kraft Foods, Lacoste, Merck, Pernod Ricard, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Reckitt Benckiser, Sanofi, and Volvo. Headquartered in New York, Euro RSCG Worldwide is the largest unit of Havas, a world leader in communications (Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA). For more information go to

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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