Women's number of sexual partners before their first marriage over the years

Women's number of sexual partners before their fist marriage over the years

This week we take a look at the number of sexual partners women have before their first marriage. 

American sexual behavior is much different than it used to be. Today, 58% of Americans think premarital sex is okay, compared to 29% in the 1970s.

Forty-three percent of women had just one premarital sex partner in the 1970s. Three decades later, this was down to 21%. Following in the wake of the sexual revolution, the 1970s have been characterized as a decade of carnal exploration. But this doesn’t seem to have been the case for the vast majority of women who ultimately tied the knot in that decade: almost two-thirds of them had at most one sex partner prior to getting married. Even in the 1980s, slightly over half of the women reported having a maximum of one sex partner before walking down the aisle. Things looked very different at the start of the new millennium.

The fall of women having no premarital sex partners is as noteworthy. In the 1970s  more than 1 in 5 of new brides were virgins. By the 2010s, the number dropped to 1 in 20. That's a decrease of more than 70%. At the other end of the distribution, the number of future wives who had ten or more sex partners increased from 2 percent in the 1970s to 14 percent in the 2000s, and then to 18 percent in the 2010s. Overall, American women are far more likely to have had multiple premarital sex partners in recent years. 

Unfortunately, as the Insitute for Family Studies notes, the NSFG doesn’t have full data on men’s premarital sexual behavior, and in any event, they recall their own marital histories less reliably than do women.

The data were originally posted at CDC's National Survey of Family Growth and I came across them at Institute for Family Studies