A new study by Brigham Young University’s Wheatley Institute in Utah has found that having multiple sexual partners before marriage could impact one’s future relationship prospects.
The study, titled “The Myth of Sexual Experience: Why Sexually Inexperienced Dating Couples Actually Go On to Have Stronger Marriages,” relied on data from 3,750 Americans in committed relationships with the opposite sex, including in the National Couples and Pornography Study. The report found that 10% to 20% of married adults who had only had sex with one person – their spouse – reported having a happier and higher quality union than those who had many sexual partners before getting hitched.
The study found that people who had more sexual partners tended to report lower levels of satisfaction in their marriages. Only 25% of married people who had five to nine sexual partners, and 14% of those who had been with 10 or more, reported a “very high level of relationship stability in their marriage.” On the other hand, 45% of those deemed “sexually inexperienced” reported the highest degree of stability. Moreover, nearly 80% of those who have had sex only with their partner reported greater emotional closeness in their relationship, which is over 20% higher than people who had multiple sexual partners before they got married.
“Our study confirms what other national studies have been finding the last few years, that sexually inexperienced dating couples are two to three times more likely to be in a highly stable marriage,” said Wheatley fellow Brian J. Willoughby, co-author of the report. “It appears that sexual exclusivity between spouses provides an underappreciated foundation for the intimacies of marriage and helps spouses create a mutually satisfying relationship founded on emotional intimacy and healthy communication.”
Jason S. Carroll, associate director of the Wheatley Institute and co-author of the report, reassured singletons who regret their sex lives that there is still time to change course and set future relationships on their prescribed path. He pointed out that 10% to 15% in the category of high sexual experience “are still doing quite well in their marriages.”
While researchers saw no disparity between men and women when it came to the amount of sexual activity they reported prior to getting hitched, the study suggests that when it comes to carving out notches in the bedpost, less is more.