A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science found that engaging in uncommitted sex while single increases the likelihood of failure in a future marriage.
Researchers found that when one or both spouses displayed behaviors making them more likely to engage in one-time sexual encounters and sex outside of marriage, they were less satisfied at the start of the marriage. One or both spouses were then found to have experienced a rapid decline in satisfaction over the first several years of marriage, ultimately predicting divorce. The researchers state, “strong motives to pursue uncommitted sex may interfere with marital success.”
Juliana French, Emma Altgelt, Andrea Meltzer, “The Implications of Sociosexuality for Marital Satisfaction and Dissolution,” Psychological Science, September 4, 2019.
Most people will get married, and maintaining a quality marriage is critical to well-being. Nevertheless, many intimates experience declines in marital satisfaction, and a substantial proportion of marriages dissolve. Drawing from functional perspectives of human mating, we argue that one source of marital discord and dissolution is that people vary in their motivations to pursue uncommitted sex—that is, sociosexuality. We examined this possibility using data from two independent longitudinal studies of 204 newlywed couples and used actor–partner interdependence growth-curve modeling. Results demonstrated that relatively unrestricted (vs. restricted) sociosexuality was associated with an increased probability of relationship dissolution through declines in marital satisfaction over time. Additional exploratory analyses provided preliminary evidence suggesting that frequent sex, high sexual satisfaction, and low stress weaken this association. These primary findings suggest that strong motives to pursue uncommitted sex may interfere with marital success, and the latter findings suggest potential buffers for these negative outcomes.
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