Sue Perkins reveals she suffers from the seven year itch…

The curse of the seven-year itch! As TV star Sue Perkins reveals her romances falter because she fears ‘forever’, top psychologist explains why the ‘stick or twist’ milestone can kill a relationship

  • Sue Perkins, 53, revealed her relationships often end after seven years  
  • Must read: I’m a urologist and these are five things that ruin your sex life 

She is one of the UK’s most loved TV presenters but Sue Perkins, 55, recently revealed that she falls foul of the ‘seven year itch’ when it comes to relationships. 

The former Bake Off host told the Crushed podcast that she is stuck in a pattern and all of her long-term relationships seem to end at a similar point. 

She explained to host Margaret Cabourn-Smith: ‘With me it always ends in an exactly seven-year relationship. Yes, it’s weird. It’s between six-and-a-half and eight usually. I’m an idiot.’

The star added: ‘I’ve been lucky in all the relationships I’ve had but where I struggle — the final hurdle — is making something forever, maybe because I’m so frightened of it.’

The presenter and comic split from partner and presenter Anna Richardson in 2021, and is though to be currently single. 

Sue Perkins and Anna Richardson pictured during their time together – a relationship that lasted until around the seven year mark

Of her relationship with the Naked Attraction host, she said: ‘I was in a very long-term happy thing and obviously we grew out of it, I guess.

‘I suppose a lot of my childhood and probably up until . . . well, quite recently, I was obsessed with relationships and sex and being loved.

‘I think I’ve turned a corner now and I’m just catching up to where most mature people have been for some time.’

Previously, Sue dated presenter Emma Kennedy, 56, and Scottish comedian Rhona Cameron, 57, as well as artist Kate Williams – though it is not clear in her comments if she is meaning these particular relationships also ended at seven years. 

Comediennes Rhona Cameron and Sue Perkins attend the aftershow party for Cameron’s opening night in the ‘Vagina Monologues’ at the New Ambassadors Theatre in 2002 


The idea of the seven-year-itch – or seven year ‘ditch’ – became popular in 1955, when Marilyn Monroe starred in a movie somewhat cannily called…The Seven Year Itch.

The basic story involved a married man who was considering walking out on his wife and child to be with a younger woman, played by Marilyn. 

The hit film tied in with US Census Bureau statistics at the time, which revealed that a divorce was most likely to happen after seven years of marriage.

And it’s not just Sue Perkins who has suffered from it. Celebrity couple Seal and Heidi Klum split in 2014 after seven years. 

Brad Pitt was together with Jennifer Aniston for seven years (and married for five) when he ran off with Angelina Jolie in 2005.

While Madonna, 64, broke up with Guy Ritchie, 54, in 2008 after roughly the same period.  

Stick or twist: The seven-year milestone can see the honeymoon period long gone – and couples questioning whether their relationship still  has legs


Audrey Tang, chartered psychologist with the British Psychological Society, explains whether the ‘itch’ is real or not, why some people seem to routinely suffer from it and how to avoid it. 

She says: ‘People are definitely aware of the phenomenon, largely because of the Marilyn Monroe film. And it seems to have stuck since then.’  

She feels that it is perfectly natural for some couples to separate after this length of time as the honeymoon phase is well and truly over by then.

She explains that in the first two years together – or after marriage – there is a window where people report the highest satisfaction in their relationships. 

She says, ‘At the beginning of a relationship, couples are excited and overwhelmed by attraction. But after time this inevitably dissipates and people might get a bit comfortable and bored.

‘And often couples add stress to their lives, such as buying a house or having kids. Different values and wants may arise, putting strain on relationships. 

‘The libido may drop and it may be tempting – for straight and gay couples – to look somewhere else for excitement, whether it provides it or not.

After being together for seven years, and married for five – Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston  fell foul of the seven-year itch

‘So it’s no wonder many relationships falter after this time.’

Statistics – although not clear – point to a trend in break-ups at roughly this time. 

For instance, in opposite-sex couples getting divorced in 2021, most did so after eight year together. 

While for gay couples, the length of time was slightly less. The median duration of marriage was 5.9 years for male couples, and 5.1 years for female couples.

Yet even this doesn’t tell a clear picture. Audrey says:’Even if people get divorced at eight years, it might mean that they are struggling with the relationship after six years.

‘So it’s quite tricky to get an overall picture of when an itch might start.’

She adds that relationships break down often because of a lack of communication or because one partner feels they are putting more into the partnership than they are getting out of it. 

Psychologist Audrey Tang says the seven year itch is natural as the honeymoon period is long over – but it doesn’t have to mean the end 

Tips to prevent seven-year itch 

1.Reignite the spark – intimacy is important in romantic relationships 

2. Examine your assumptions – try and see things from a different perspective 

3. Share your feelings – talk regularly to your partner about what’s on your mind

4. Show your appreciation. Over time you can take your partner for granted, but it is important to show your gratitude

5. Avoid problematic behaviours such as drinking too much or watching excessive porn. This is not the way to solve any thing. 

Relationship problems may also be caused by a lack of physical and or emotional intimacy, increased conflict, keeping secrets and taking one another for granted.

People may also begin to fantasise about infidelity. 

She adds, ‘There is strong evidence on why relationships break down.

‘Yes, it may be lack of compatibility, but there are other factors.

‘For instance, for couples to work, we know that for every one critical remark that is made, there must be five positive ones.

‘People may just feel disconnected and become listless.’ 

She added that money often caused problems in relationships. 

‘It may be that one partner wants to save, and another spends cash recklessly,’ she says.

‘Equally resentment can arise if one person’s career is taking off, and the other partner’s is struggling.

‘This can lead to problems which need communicating about honestly or they can fester.

‘There may – after several years – be low motivation to invest in a relationship.

‘But relationships need work every day.

‘It’s too easy for it to fall to the bottom of the priority pile.  

‘But this will mean it will likely crumble at seven years, or at any time.’

She suggests that to prevent the seven year itch, or a break-down at any time, it is important to focus on key things, such as communication and reigniting the spark. 

And she suggests that if a person is routinely finding their relationships end around the seven year mark, it may become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

She says, ‘If some of your relationships have ended at a certain time, and you have a feeling this always happens, you might subconsciously sabotage the next one.

‘Without even realising it, you might begin acting in a certain way or sending out signals to your partner that something is wrong.’

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