A woman’s sexual partners and divorce risk

Wintery Knight was the first one to pick this up that I saw, and Donal has his own post on it up which he was aware from a commenter who reads Vox.

This chart is pretty damning for any premarital sex in this day and age.

  • Let’s note first that this chart is only the first 5 years of marriage. This means that any other divorces after 5 years are not included.
  • First 5 years is not much though, considering that the usual common divorce time is the so-called “7 year itch” which shows up in marriages of about 7-15 years. That’s probably where the rest of Teachman statistics come from where it jumps up to 40% overall for first marriages over a lifetime.
  • Combining the data from the Teachman statistics and this graph means that virgins have a 5% chance of marriage failure in 5 years and a 20% risk of marriage failure over a lifetime. I would be interested to see data on where the 5 percent jumps to 20%.
  • The 1 partner is the a virgin having sex with her husband before getting married. That virtually quadruples the divorce risk in the 2000s from about 5% to 20%. Conclusion: don’t have premarital sex, even to the person you are getting married to.
  • The other rates are very dismal. If you’re not marrying a virgin there’s virtually no reason to marry. Who wants a 25%+ chance that their marriage will blog up in 5 years?

The trends are not exactly surprising. For example, the drop in the 1980s virgins to the 1990s and 2000s virgins is not surprising because there were more virgins in the past who may have “wanted to let their sexuality out” prior to marriage but were in fear of being judged. As views on virginity became more “relaxed” in our culture, this eliminated many of these past virgins from the pool thus dropping down the divorce rate. Those who remained virgins had more self control and a stronger home life in general.

The chart that Donal didn’t pick up but Wintery did was this one.

We can see that even in the 1970s that women were “no angels.”

  • Only 21% of women were virgins when they married. Now, it’s 5%.
  • Most of the population of women had 0-2 partners prior to marriage. In the 2010s this jumps up to a fairly even distribution with the mean around 4-5 partners by marriage. Additionally, 18% of the population is very promiscuous with 10+ partners.
  • The statistics for 2-3 partners stayed relatively even, but the 0-1 partners dropped precipitously with drastic increases in 4-5, 6-9, and 10 partners. It’s likely not the 0-1 partners suddenly becoming drastically more promiscuous. Instead, the previous 2-3 partners became more promiscuous while many of the 0-1 partners had a few more partners.

In any case, if you are going to marry then you should marry a virgin if at all possible. The 5% and 20% lifetime divorce risk carries all of the “high risk” virgins like those with no fathers, school dropouts, drugs, medically diagnosed disorders, and other potentially risky behaviors. Thus,  if you select wisely then there is generally a very low likelihood of divorce if you marry a virgin.

Although you only have a 5% chance of finding one, which is probably still dropping. I may consider running a crude statistical analysis again.

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20 Responses to A woman’s sexual partners and divorce risk

  1. donalgraeme says:

    One of my commenters found a 20-25% chance of failure within 5 years to be an acceptable risk. I do not. I suspect most men would probably be closer to your and my position on this, DS. There is always risk in life, but that much risk in only 5 years? Oi.

  2. Looking Glass says:

    Considering the cost (roughly 70% of your net worth), that’s a terrible, terrible risk.

  3. Don Quixote says:

    The oft repeated sentiment in the Bible is that only a virgin was considered ‘marriage material’. Yes I know there are exceptions to this, but you can see it from Genesis to Revelation.
    It might sound harsh but the only real long term options are:
    A) Marry a virgin.
    B) Don’t get married.
    This was the prevailing sentiment when there was no ‘no-fault’ divorce, and when there was no family [kangaroo] court.
    Now the media and government have changed the playing field into a mine field, and dumbed down guys wander into the mine field only to be blown up. And there are too few voices to raise the awareness to an acceptable level. Great post DS.

  4. Jacob says:

    Having a form of cancer that has a proven fatality rate of 25% within 5 years does not mean it isn’t worth treating. Even if the fatality rate was 75%, it would still be worth treating. The point is that any chance at all of remission is worth taking.

    Looking at it from the other side, a 25% risk of divorce risk is a 75% chance of staying married after 5 years. In an age where the idea of marriage is fast becoming a cosmetic add-on rather than a function of our lives, this is surely still an acceptable risk for a Christian whose covenant is with God.

    If it is the covenant with the state that creates the problem, Christians should not let go of the covenant marriage ideal that easily. Christian marriage is not defined as virgins marrying virgins, although that’s the perfect example given in Scripture. Rather, it’s defined as the sexual relationship between a man and a woman who bear personal witness to Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. Ideologically, this is worth fighting for even if the risk is 99%. Jesus fought to prosecute God’s plan for us knowing there was 100% risk of his own death. Christians are to take up their cross and follow Jesus, whatever the risk.

    But then, is it really divorce that concerns us, or is it the idea of taking responsibility for the elevated risk of. being punished for it by the state? We know the world is perishing, and in a perishing world the risk of being drawn into the evil vortex is always going to be higher than before. That doesn’t mean we stop fighting for our Christian marriage. Sure, there must be a point where, logically speaking, the divorce risk becomes too great, but at that point the correct action would be to abandon the marriage license and property contract model and marry by covenant alone. If a covenant husband or wife loses their faith and wants to divorce, the unbelieving spouse (they would testify their unbelief by wanting to divorce), they can leave the marriage in peace.

    I’m basically saying that the increasing divorce risk may well be a sign from God that we need to start fighting for the abandonment of the marriage license model and for a return to purely covenant marriage. Fighting for diminishing secular returns was never part of the Christian commission.

    Winning souls for Christ is part of it, however, as is covenant marriage for those who burn with sexual desire. No divorce, no marriage licenses, no prenups, no property settlements, no cash and prizes, sex only in marriage, kids stay if an unbeliever wants to leave. Instead of encouraging Christians to avoid marriage because of the divorce risk, encourage them to return to covenant marriage and live by that alone.

    Ultimately, this looks to be what DS and other diligent bloggers are trying to define for us. Soon there will be a working model. In His perfect timing, God will provide a way forward for His people when the divorce risk reaches a tipping point and the secular marriage model finally collapses. It’s coming.

  5. Cassie says:

    @ Don Quixote

    While virgins are the biblical ideal, they’re not the end all be all. Scripture also repeatedly talks about marrying widows in a good light. So it’s not so much marrying someone who has never ever had sex or nothing at all that Scripture promotes, but rather, it’s marrying someone who has never fornicated.

  6. Don Quixote says:

    Cassie says:
    June 11, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    @ Don Quixote

    While virgins are the biblical ideal, they’re not the end all be all. Scripture also repeatedly talks about marrying widows in a good light. So it’s not so much marrying someone who has never ever had sex or nothing at all that Scripture promotes, but rather, it’s marrying someone who has never fornicated.

    Thanks Cassie, I can sympathise with your comments, but in [my opinion] the current environment marriage is much too risky. I have not discouraged my son from marriage but I have tried to make him aware of the risks, many years ago I taught him to only marry a virgin that shares his beliefs. I did this in the hope that he would have a good marriage.
    When a marriage in under duress these days there is little or no support for the family. The law is against the family. Often the churches are against the family. The result is the destruction of the family. This destruction can be avoided by not marrying.

  7. Don Quixote says:

    Jacob says:
    June 11, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    I’m basically saying that the increasing divorce risk may well be a sign from God that we need to start fighting for the abandonment of the marriage license model and for a return to purely covenant marriage.

    I’m not familiar with the various legal positions in the American states, so forgive me where I’m wrong. But in Australia [where I live] if a couple lives together for more than 6 months or so, they are considered to be in a common law marriage and are subject to the same [crazy] family laws that exist for married couples. Never mind any pre-existing religious arrangement or otherwise, it’s into the meat grinder you go.

  8. feeriker says:

    Having a form of cancer that has a proven fatality rate of 25% within 5 years does not mean it isn’t worth treating.

    The aviation analogy always explains it more clearly. If there was anywhere from a 25 to 50 percent chance that you would be involved in a fatal crash over a five-year period of regular passenger air travel, would you fly? I think the obvious answer is an “[Expletive] no! Are you nuts?!” And yet flying at its most dangerous is statistically a safer bet than marriage for a man.

  9. SapphireYagami says:

    how do you know if a women is a virgin? unless she tells you you won’t really know till you have sex with her and even that is kinda risky cause I read somewhere that women can be re-virginized through surgery where they basically fit their hymen. Plus the girl you consider for marriage, you have to make sure she was actually born a woman due to these transgender surgeries nowadays; especially for me being in Atlanta as a young female. I have to make sure that any guy I consider for marriage is not on the downlow and was actually born a male.

  10. Chris says:

    As God was explaining to Job toward the end of that book, there are things going on in the spiritual realm that we don’t know about. Big things happen during the physical act of sex. I personally don’t buy into the whole “giving away pieces of your heart” thing to scare young adults into emotional sterility, but I do think a part of us is “compromised” when we fornicate.

  11. Coastal says:

    Sheesh, and I thought the original chart was eye-opening.

    One thing I’ve noticed is the shocking amount of pushback in Christian circles for even suggesting that sexual history be considered when choosing a wife. Even as a virgin myself, I get so much resistance for having it as a dealbreaker (from other male friends, mind you), with stuff like “you’re unforgiving”, “nobody’s perfect”, or “what if that’s the one God has for you?” In the same vein as people claiming that fitness is an idol, virginity is more or less given the same treatment. If purity is such an idol in the church, why are so few Christians sticking to it?

  12. donalgraeme says:

    RE: Widows…

    It would be nice to see a study that separated them out from the general population. I suspect that Righteous Widows are such a small part of the population that they could have dramatically different results from other women with N>0. But it wouldn’t show because their population is so small.

    @ Sapphire

    Trans folks are still pretty rare. Plus it is, in most cases, pretty easy to figure that kind of thing out- their is only so much covering up of the past one can do in this day and age. Oh, and usually there are a number of “tells” which indicates whether or not a woman is a virgin.

    @ Coastal

    One thing I’ve noticed is the shocking amount of pushback in Christian circles for even suggesting that sexual history be considered when choosing a wife.

    It is all of that bowing and scraping done to women, which Dalrock points out so adroitly, which is responsible for this. Women, as a group, don’t want sexual history to be something men consider because they know it matters- and if men start to factor it in then they cannot have all their fun and games anymore.

    Frankly, I have trouble being polite to those who try to shame me on this matter anymore. I won’t tolerate their antics, not any more.

  13. Don Quixote says:

    donalgraeme says:
    June 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    @ Sapphire

    Trans folks are still pretty rare. Plus it is, in most cases, pretty easy to figure that kind of thing out- their is only so much covering up of the past one can do in this day and age. Oh, and usually there are a number of “tells” which indicates whether or not a woman is a virgin.

    Absolutely correct about the “tells”. Jesus said; …for of the abundance of the heart his [her] mouth speaketh. It is safe to interpret this verse with an egalitarian perspective. Girls who have given away [or lost] their virginity, will eventually reveal the fact either deliberately or inadvertently. IOWs they will tell you their status. Plus it often shows in their demeanour and dress.

    If your wondering about a girl if she is or isn’t a virgin, just ask her, and watch her reaction carefully. She will reveal the truth either by words or actions. What to look for:
    Eyes down [bad sign]
    Objections [bad sign]
    Blushing [good sign]
    Humble declaration of purity [probably a good sign]
    Bold declaration of purity [probably a bad sign]
    If a girl is lying there will be other body language to indicate, but the truth will be revealed, not many girls are skilled enough liars to hide from such an confrontational ambush type question.

    If you fancy the girl and don’t want to embarrass her with such a pointed question, then gently approach the question through another avenue. For example if you think she might be potential wife material ask her views on marriage and compare them to the Bible, explain that you’re interested in the biblical type marriage i.e. virgin bride and watch carefully. The truth will be staring you in the face.

  14. SapphireYagami says:

    thank you for your answers guys @ donalgraeme & @ don quixote

  15. Chris says:

    “If purity is such an idol in the church, why are so few Christians sticking to it?”

    Because they’re joining the secular trend of delaying marriage and not realizing that people who can go for years without any sort of physical intimacy probably have no use for marriage to begin with.

    With regards to being obstinate about not marrying a non-virgin, I’d give some leeway for women who came to faith after having had sex outside of marriage.

  16. Lawrence says:

    In the ships-have-sailed category, the sexual partners variable is always a meaningful metric but there is a premise at work here that trips the wire: the prioritization (value) of marriage.

    For the modern woman, churchian or not, marriage is not a priority but rather a contingent preference. The binary view of virgin or not virgin still holds predictive value but when the culture is quick to bloat the queue with checklists of accomplishments and experiences that should take priority over marriage, even the young women who value their chastity (which is not the same as valuing her reputation) are simultaneously depreciating marriage and prolonging the exposure to a sexual marketplace that favors promiscuity, hedonism, and self-indulgence.

    By the time she decides “I’m ready”, she may or may not have a high N, but she will be “experienced” – practiced in the art of relationship velocity; flings, big-R relationships, and little r relationships that are proxy marriages, but without the actual commitment that may get in the way of her personal journey and acquisition of experience.

    These mini-marriages- complete with coupled travel (honeymoons) and eventual divorces that were often baked-in from the beginning (“He wasn’t marriage material” or “I was moving away for grad school”) erode what remains of the fundamental value of marriage as an institution, incrementally replacing those fundamentals with all matters of feelz, entitlements, personal journeys of enlightenment, and of course, a probable addiction to the Tingles.

    Eventually they will attempt to inject value back into their idea of marriage. Of course this is often accompanied by an attempt to re-value her sexuality (because yes, they know it matters) while she simultaneously – and often preemptively (“don’t judge me”) shames her suitors from considering any of this in their decision to take disproportionate risk in terms of the free put-option that her and the State have cooked up.

    She becomes a walking contradiction: my value as a potential wife should not be based on my past (sexual) decisions AND my value as a potential wife should be based on my past decisions (leading to accomplishments.) Luckily she will curate (re-write, obfuscate, lie, omit, embellish) those past decisions so you don’t have to worry about any inconsistencies, patterns of unhealthy choices, or (sexy) mistakes that made her who she is today. All while she combs you through her 32-point checklist of must-haves.

    Marrying a virgin is a unicorn proposition. But the real problem to me is not one of virginity or not, but rather that marriage is just not valued more than the accumulation of female status, aka experience. Marriage is not a priority. So the idea of preserving anything for marriage, virginity or otherwise, flies in the face of the current order of values. Christian women just have a slightly shorter queue of what takes priority over marriage.

    When marriage suddenly becomes a priority, most women will find a man to marry them. While virginity may be shorthand for the divorce outcomes, there are a whole lot of things that happen in those years of exploration between 18 and 28 that drive that bus off the cliff. Most of which flow from the premise that marriage is something to be acquired – after she acquires many other things. This is the problem, IMO. N-count is a symptom.

  17. @ Lawrence

    Good points.

    I view “committed relationsthips” that are not “engagement” or “marriage” as generally meaningless.

    The problem is when you treat them as something ‘serious’ and there is a break up and you go through a bunch of them it’s basically a series of mini-divorces. Of course, women do this because their preferred mating strategy is serial monogamy.

    The priority of marriage is definitely a big factor as well.

  18. Pingback: Doom and gloom and the amount of attractive Christian virgins Part 2 | Christianity and masculinity

  19. Lawrence says:

    DS,
    I see it that way as well. It is all part of the grand inversion of values. The practice of personal expression is more valuable than the practice of personal discretion; “learning” through indulgence is more valuable than learning through restraint; building value through consumption is more valuable than building value through production; cultivating strength of identity is more valuable than cultivating strength of character; the dance of dalliance trumps the depth of discipline, and so on.

    Re: Mini Divorces. Indeed. What gets lost in the virtue of accumulating experience in “relationships” is that while credit is demanded (it accrues to his benefit, right?) for these so called skills (which are actually just habits, tendencies, expressed preferences) acquired thru these serial relationships men are also expected to ignore the corollary “skills” acquired thru exiting these relationships, again and again. Don’t worry though, she is still great friends with almost all of her exes. LOL

    But, as you know, one at a time is where the bar has moved. Which is why I am inclined to occupy the (realistic) transient position as opposed to the (idealistic) permanent one. My approach is becoming increasingly rational as the variable of time (t) is being compressed in order to conform to the silly rationalizations of the day. When the only thing shoring up what remains of monogamy is time, all of the other values start to look like rounding errors.

    Just how much time in between makes it one-at-a-time? Don’t ask the women of Tinder. Its awkward.

  20. Pingback: Doom and gloom and the amount of attractive Christian virgins Part 3 | Christianity and masculinity

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