Brits would prefer to talk about their weight, mental health and family dramas than money.
A survey of 2,000 adults revealed what is and isn’t acceptable to talk about with their emotions, religion and infertility all considered more socially acceptable to discuss than finances and debt.
Just 18 per cent consider the delicate topics of miscarriage and infertility to be off-limits compared to one quarter who say the same about personal finances.
Similarly, one in five don’t think it’s suitable to disclose their salary in social settings and more than half believe the subject of money should be completely off limits at work.
Other unacceptable conversations include drugs, sex and parenting techniques, with Brits going as far as to say discussing these ‘taboo’ subjects leaves them feeling ‘anxious’ and ‘nervous’.
The research was commissioned by Lowell, which helps consumers and businesses manage credit better, and wants to highlight how talking helps.
Clinical and counselling psychologist Tamara Licht Musso said: “Not talking can seem the best short term strategy, but is a negative coping mechanism and at some point it cracks.
“Avoidance is also a classic way of coping to keep anxiety at bay, but we cannot avoid our thoughts, which is where all emotions emerge, therefore pushing back such thoughts may result in them appearing through symptoms such as difficulties with sleep.
“Taking the ‘easy’ route might seem to be the answer because the rational path – talking – puts us in a much more vulnerable position.
“In the short term this may be true, but it puts us in a healthier place in the long term.
“The fear of being judged is based on distorted thinking patterns such as jumping to conclusions and mind reading.
“For example, some people will think that by sharing their salary others may misjudge their ability.”
The research also found more than half fear being judged if they were to open up about personal issues, while another one in two avoid certain topics because they find it ‘embarrassing’.
Others keep quiet as they don’t want to share their personal lives, believe it’s rude to talk about certain things or worry about the consequences of opening up, with more than one third fearing it could lead to arguments.
One in five are afraid talking about things will break up their relationship and one in 10 even fear losing their job.
However, due to avoiding discussions about an issue, 31 per cent have experienced loss of sleep and one sixth have even suffered from mental health issues.
It also emerged that 62 per cent consider opening up to be a ‘big step’ and feel it’s sometimes ‘easier to keep it to yourself’.
And almost half of those polled via OnePoll wish society made it easier and more acceptable to talk about things.
Lowell’s Managing Director John Pears added: “Breaking down these taboos and having open, honest conversations helps understanding, and can pave the way to finding answers to problems.
“Talking to someone is the first step, but it can obviously be difficult and many are worried, aren’t sure who can help or don’t feel they can trust someone.
“We know that when it comes to money or debt, people can be particularly sensitive or embarrassed about it, and customers tell us that not talking has caused them to worry more and for things to get worse, which really doesn’t have to be the case – there is help out there.”
Top 20 most socially unacceptable things to talk about according to Brits:
1. Sex life
2. Bodily functions
3. Personal finances
10. Asking someone’s age
13. Other people’s lives
14. Mental health
16. Family dramas
18. Parenting techniques
20. Emotional feelings