Some say it’s good to have a lot of sex partners before marriage so you get used to trying people out and can find what you like. Others, like me, have said that’s crazy talk. If you get used to shopping around before marriage, you’re developing a bad habit of loving and leaving that will make you more likely to divorce once married. A new study provides more ammunition for the latter idea.
The study, of women who married in the 2000s, purports to find a “counterintuitive” result: That both women with zero to one and with three to nine sex partners are less likely to divorce than ladies with two or more than ten partners. Therefore, it says, “the relationship between divorce and the number of sexual partners women have prior to marriage is not linear.”
But take a look at the graph. If you learned elementary-school-level graph-reading skills, you will see that only one sex partner frequency is associated with extremely low divorce rates five years into marriage:
So what do we see here? That women who married in the 2000s were least likely to divorce if they had no sex partners before marriage, at a rate of approximately 6 percent. That’s almost divorce-proof. Even just one sex partner before marriage moved up a woman’s chances of divorce within five years of marriage to one in five chances, at a 20 percent rate.
Even though there’s a small dip between two and ten sex partners before marriage, the divorce rate for every other premarital sex decision besides virginity is extremely high for just five years in, at all above 20 percent. The same is generally true even if you go back in time to the 1990s and 1980s. In other words, having any premarital sex partners is positively correlated with much higher divorce rates (on a magnitude of a more than 300 percent increase, in the 2000 data!).
Tragically for women’s chances at lifelong love, however, “the share of women who were virgins at marriage fell from 21% in the 1970s to 5% in the 2010s.” In other words, we can thank the death of chastity for contributing to our high divorce rates. Great going, sexual revolution! We all needed more heartbreak, loneliness, and lackluster sex!
Polling data has shown a marked shift in how Americans view divorce. In the most recent National Survey of Family Growth, 60 percent of Americans ages 15 to 44, and an even higher percentage of millennials, said divorce was not usually the best solution for couples who can’t seem to work out their problems. It marked a shift in public opinion against divorce. Yet 70 percent of Americans in the same survey said cohabitation was perfectly fine, a record high.
This cognitive dissonance is likely in part because young people are so scarred by and afraid of divorce that they hope cohabitation and premarital sex will protect them from divorce, even though the opposite is true. Millennials are renowned for their fear of commitment: “These days, people are so scared of divorce that they want to be absolutely positive of who they’re going to marry long before they tie the knot.” Their fear is pushing them into behavior that will make their goal of a stable, lifelong marriage even harder to achieve. If only society better educated young people about what promiscuity does to their chances of lasting love.