A new study has found that virgin bridges – women with between zero and one sexual partner – are the least likely to divorce later on, with women who had 10 or more partners emerging as the most likely to see their marriages end, according to the Institute for Family Studies.
Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth that was collected in 2002, 2006-2010 and 2011-2013, researchers observed these trends, with the potential ties emerging between the total number of sexual partners and matrimonial dissolutions.
“Earlier research found that having multiple sex partners prior to marriage could lead to less happy marriages, and often increased the odds of divorce,” Professor Nicholas Wolfinger wrote in a blog post that announced the analysis. “But sexual attitudes and behaviors continue to change in America, and some of the strongest predictors of divorce in years gone by no longer matter as much as they once did.”
Wolfinger, professor of family and consumer studies and sociology at the University of Utah, noted that 43 percent of women had only one sexual partner before marriage in the 1970s, but said that this figure later plummeted.
“Even in the 1980s, slightly over half of women had a maximum of one sex partner before walking down the aisle,” he wrote. “Things looked very different at the start of the new millennium. By the 2010s, only 5 percent of new brides were virgins.”
Wolfinger continued, “At the other end of the distribution, the number of future wives who had ten or more sex partners increased from 2 percent in the 1970s to 14 percent in the 2000s, and then to 18 percent in the 2010s.”
In the end, after analyzing the data, the professor concluded that those with fewer partners are less likely to see their marriages end in divorce. Thus, marrying as a virgin left women in a better situation when it came to their chances for future divorce.
“Eleven percent of virgin marriages (on the part of the woman, at least) in the 1980s dissolved within five years. This number fell to 8 percent in the 1990s, then fell again to 6 percent in the 2000s,” Wolfingerexplained. “For all three decades, the women with the second lowest five-year divorce rates are those who had only one partner prior to marriage.”
There has been a change over the years, though. In the 2000s, for the first time, the highest five-year divorce rates were for women with 10 or more sex partners before marriage; previously, women with two partners before marriage had the highest rates.
Wolfinger said that the proportions lead to one solid conclusion: “The odds of divorce are lowest with zero or one premarital partners.”
That said, the professor did note that the 33 percent five-year rate for 10 or more partners isn’t statistically more significant than the 30 percent for two partners, leading to additional questions about what social constructs might be at play. Wilfinger also concluded that the research “ultimately raises more questions than it answers.”