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New study: more sexual experience does not make you a better relationship partner

Today, most young people think that they are building up their relationship resumes by having casual sex. They think that they are elevating their value proposition to a marriage partner by having casual sex, and all that comes with it – the lack of emotional bond, the lack of commitment, the lack of partnership, the painful break-ups, the decline of trust, etc. But what does the research say?

I got this news from pro-child social conservative Katy Faust, who was tweeting out amazing stories on Twitter on the weekend. Giver her a follow.

Here’s the report from Institute for Family Studies about the new study.


Our findings are based on a new study using data from The National Couples and Pornography Study. The data sample was collected independently by Qualtrics from their existing data panel during 2020. It consists of 3,750 individuals in committed couple relationships, including 1,942 married adults, on whom we focused in this study. The demographically diverse sample was recruited from across the U.S. based on quotas for age, race, education level, and geographic region.

We examined the effects of sexual experience on marriage across four married groups:

  • Group 1: Inexperienced – These are individuals who were sexually inexperienced prior to marriage and who have only had sex with their spouse (19.5% of the sample).

  • Group 2: Less Experienced – These were individuals with between 2 to 4 lifetime sexual partners before marriage, which is less sexual experience than the average adult in the sample (33.4% of the sample).

  • Group 3: More Experienced – These are individuals who reported a total number of 5 to 9 lifetime sexual partners. This is the group that captures the average person in the sample (24.4% of the sample).

  • Group 4: Highly Experienced – The final group includes those who reported 10 or more total lifetime sexual partners. This group made up 22.7% of the sample.

Now let’s look at the findings, starting with relationship satisfaction:

Sexually inexperienced couples have the highest levels of relationship satisfaction. 

While over 1 in 5 spouses in the Inexperienced group were likely to report a very high level of relationship satisfaction, only 1 in 7 of those in the More Experienced group were likely to report the same level of satisfaction. This dropped even further for those in the Highly Experienced group, with less than 1 in 10 of spouses reporting that they are very satisfied with their marriage. Thus, sexually inexperienced spouses are more than twice as likely to report that they are highly satisfied with their marriages than are spouses with high levels of sexual experience (see Figure 1).

And the findings about marital stability:

Having multiple sexual partners before marriage is strongly associated with lower marital stability. 

Similar to other studies, we found that sexual experience prior to marriage is correlated with lower stability in marriage and a greater likelihood of divorce. Specifically, we found that inexperienced men and women who have only had sex with their spouse have a nearly 45% chance of reporting a very high level of relationship stability in their marriage, whereas only 25% of married individuals with 5 to 9 lifetime sex partners, and only 14% of married individuals with 10 or more lifetime sex partners report a similarly high level of relationship stability.

And the findings about sexual satisfaction and emotional connection:

Spouses who have only had sex with their current spouse have the highest levels of sexual satisfaction and emotional connection in their marriage.

Nearly 1 in 5 married men and women who have only had sex with their spouse report that they are “very satisfied” with multiple aspects of their sexual relationship. In comparison, only 1 in 10 married men and women who are “highly sexually experienced” (meaning they had 10 or more sexual partners before marriage) report similar levels of sexual satisfaction (see Figure 3). Also, nearly 80% of married individuals who were sexually inexperienced before marriage report the highest level of emotional closeness in their marriage, which is more than 20% higher than individuals who have had multiple sexual partners.

Now let me give my comments about this.

I follow a lot of content that features young people talking about sex in relationships. The dominant view among young people is that they are becoming better relationship partners when they engage in casual sex. They say that they are learning about their own needs, and about what to look in other people so that their needs will be met. They think that more casual sex is like more work experience on a resume, and that this is what marriage-minded people of the opposite sex will be impressed with. They think that their Sexual Revolution approach to sex is going to lead to more stability, more relationship satisfaction, more emotional connection, and more sexual satisfaction.

So the first thing is that the research falsifies this. And you can see how this works by just thinking about the break-ups. Break-ups have the effect of making people look for the exits in relationships. Instead of committing first, and then taking responsibility to build and maintain the relationship, they are looking to get out of it to avoid being hurt. And they are always trying to make sure that their needs are met, and avoiding committing too much to the other person. They neither know nor care what the other person is trying to achieve, and they aren’t engaged in helping them to do that.

Also, consider that most young people are not forming their beliefs with knowledge that is likely to make them a better person. Concepts that are familiar to experienced Christians such as forgiveness and self-sacrificial love are nowhere in their worldviews. Biblical Christianity provides a rational basis for loving a spouse well, even when you don’t feel like it. Which is very useful in a marriage. They have a pretty self-serving view Christianity, something like “don’t judge” and “listen for the voice of God telling you his plan to make you happy”.

Instead their views are being formed by radical feminism, popular culture, celebrity worship, materialism, an almost fanatical focus on judging people by appearances, being led by feelings and peer-approval, etc. They expect to have stability and quality in a relationship where skills like forgiveness, self-denial, delayed gratification, planning, achieving goals together, etc. are critical. Imagine wanting to retire early. Is someone on the path to early retirement if they are guided entirely by their feelings? If they do only what feels good “in the moment”? If none of the peers who influence them have achieved this goal? Today, relationships are just a case of the blind leading the blind. It doesn’t work.

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