When You Lose Your Virginity, And When You Get Divorced

A University of Iowa study found that girls who had sex for the first time when they were teens are more likely to divorce later in life. While this information will undoubtedly spark more hand-wringing about sexy teen pop stars, the statistic mainly applies to girls who didn't want to have sex, not those who decided they were ready at age 17.

Sociology researchers studied the responses of 3,793 women in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth who were or had been married. They found that 31% of those who had sex in their teens later divorced within five years, and 47% divorced within 10 years. Among women who waited until they were 18 or older, 15% were divorced after five years and 27% had split after 10 years.

On the surface, this seems to confirm the conservative view that women who lose their virginity as teens are chasing potential husbands away with their slutty behavior. They're just asking to be branded with a scarlet "A" and thoroughly shunned! Upon further examination, the factor that increases divorce risk is actually if a woman's first sexual experience was "unwanted or not completely wanted." Women who chose to have sex at 16 or 17 weren't more predisposed for divorce. However, the younger women were when the lost their virginity, the more they reported having "unwanted sex" (or in other words, "rape.") From UI News Services:

Just 1 percent chose to have sex at age 13 or younger, 5 percent at age 14 or 15, and 10 percent at age 16 or 17. Another 42 percent reported first sexual intercourse before age 18 that was not completely wanted.

So it isn't exactly age of deflowering that leads to more troubled adult relationships, but a woman's history of being coerced into sex or having a traumatizing experience at a young age. That's not so shocking after all.

The research really just confirms that we need to stop sending teens the unrealistic message that they must never have sex. In addition to safe sex instruction, we need to emphasize to girls that having sex is a choice they get to make, not one that's foisted on them by some dude. Speaking of men, it would be interesting to know how the age they lose their virginity affects their divorce risk, but of course they weren't included in this study. We're extremely concerned about the sexualization of girls, but boys are never pressured into sex and don't experience any negative consequences.

UI Study Examines Link Between Teen Sex And Divorce Rate [University Of Iowa News Services]

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