Sexual Restraint While Dating Leads to Better Marriages

Those who have fewer sexual experiences during their dating years tend to have stronger unions when they marry, according to research conducted by the Wheatley Institute at Brigham Young University.

What to Know

  • Sexually inexperienced individuals or those who have only had sex with their spouse are two to three times more likely to be in a highly stable marriage and to report the highest levels of satisfaction with the relationship as well as sexual satisfaction and emotional closeness with their spouses.

  • These individuals were nearly three times as likely to report that they were not considering ending their marriage compared to individuals who entered marriage with high levels of sexual experience before marriage.

  • The number of lifetime sexual partners the participants had prior to getting married was one of the strongest predictors of divorce and was negatively associated with overall satisfaction, sexual quality, emotional connection, and relationship stability in their later marriages.

  • For every additional lifetime sexual partner that was reported, the probability of the individual being highly satisfied with their marriage decreased by almost 4%, the probability of their marriage being highly stable decreased by 6.5%, and the probability of their marriage being characterized by high levels of sexual satisfaction decreased by 4% in comparison to individuals who had only had sex with their spouse.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over half of married adults in the United States enter marriage today after having had five or more previous sexual partners.

This is a summary of the article, “The Myth of Sexual Experience: Why Sexually Inexperienced Dating Couples Actually Go On to Have Stronger Marriages,” published on the Wheatley Institutes website on April 18, 2023. The full article can be found on

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