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If you are on the proverbial market, as you rack up phone swipes, first dates, and—likely—new sexual partners, you might start to ask yourself, Is all this dating going to make me happier with whomever I end up with? Or are you simply stuck on a hedonic treadmill of potential lovers, doomed like some sort of sexual Sisyphus to be perpetually close to finding your soul mate, only to realize—far, far too late—that they are deal-breakingly disappointing? Meanwhile, the lowest odds of marital happiness—about 13 percentage points lower than the one-partner women—belong to women who have had six to 10 sexual partners in their lives.
Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist and senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and an Atlantic contributor. In an earlier analysis, Wolfinger found that women with zero or one sex partners before marriage were also least likely to divorce, while those with 10 or more were most likely.
These divorce-proof brides are an exclusive crew: By the s, he writes, just 5 percent of new brides were virgins. And just 6 percent of their marriages dissolved within five years, compared with 20 percent for most people. In his analysis, he controlled for education, income, and age at marriage. Even people who have slept with the entire Polyphonic Spree could go on to live in blissful matrimony. Still, researchers I spoke with speculated about a few reasons that sexually inexperienced marriages seem so solid.
But it could be something more subtle: People who avoid sex before marriage might simply value marriage more highly, so they feel more satisfied by it.
Contrary to what pop culture might have you believe, Americans are overall a pretty chaste people. The median American woman born in the s, Wolfinger writes, has had only three sexual partners in her lifetime, and the median man six. So if you have even less sexual experience than that, your ificant other might be your dream man simply by virtue of being your spouse.
Read: Millennials want to marry later. You are happy with whomever you ended up with, love handles and all. And they might be the types of people who play the field a lot before marriage. Finally, there are all sorts of other, hidden possibilities that might exonerate people who sow their wild oats.
For example, people who live in communities without very many marriageable partners might end up going through lots of sexual relationships and failing to find one that sticks. Also, women who have had sexual relationships might be more likely to have had children from those relationships, and according to Wolfinger and others, bringing from a relationship into a new marriage can be uniquely stressful. These kinds of marriages, they say, tend to have disproportionately high divorce rates.
Perhaps all the premarital sex you had was satisfying enough to make up for even the dreariest of unions. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe. Institute for Family Studies.Willcox guy looking to satisfy you
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