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What we desire

Openness in sex, fidelity in partnerships: science journalist Christoph Drösser on the love lives of the Germans.

Interview: Johannes Göbel, 27.06.2021
Attraction: Germans find many things attractive
Attraction: Germans find many things attractive © kumpol shuansakul/EyeEm -

Mr Drösser, as a science journalist you deal among other things with the love and sex lives of the Germans. In 2017, you published a book called 'Wir Deutschen und die Liebe' (We Germans and Love). What in particular did you find out?
For one thing, there was no confirmation of the cliché about Germans being uptight. Rather, it turns out that Germans experiment a lot in their sex lives and are open to different practices. But what I find more interesting is how tolerant they are of others. The prevailing attitude is: what adults do consensually is their private business and should be tolerated. There's no moralistic finger-pointing, even when it comes to controversial topics like prostitution or pornography.

Christoph Drösser: found a striking degree of acceptance
Christoph Drösser: found a striking degree of acceptance © Liesa Johannssen

How is homosexuality seen in Germany?
Homosexuality is roundly accepted by a large majority. But what honestly surprised me were the very high approval ratings for 'marriage for all' that we collected for our book in 2017, using extensive data analysis. Even then, 63 percent were in favour of full equality for homosexual partnerships. This is remarkable considering the long political discussions that preceded the introduction of the marriage for all. We also found that 59 percent already supported adoption rights for homosexuals at that time.

Many of your research findings point to diversity and change in love relationships between Germans. Is there a constant?
Yes, the ideas about partnership are still quite conservative, whatever form a relationship takes. The dominant ideal is that you live with a partner wherever possible, that you are faithful – and that being unfaithful signifies a serious crisis. Even single people say for the most part that they wish for a partner to grow old with. By the way, men are more fixated on commitment than women. While women are more willing to end a relationship, men are more likely to cling.


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