Infidelity has long been a topic of interest to scientists who study sex and relationships. Over the years, they’ve uncovered a number of fascinating things about how common cheating is, who does it, and why. Here’s a look at ten interesting things scientists have discovered about cheating.Read More
Nationally representative U.S. survey data reveal that approximately 1 in 7 adults today are living in a sexless marriage, meaning they report engaging in little to no sexual activity [1, 2]. Despite how common sexless marriages are, surprisingly little research exists on the topic. So why does sexual activity decline in so many couples in the first place and how does it affect the partners? Also, what are the factors that might lead people to stay in sexless marriages despite the fact that the experience tends to be highly distressing?
When I was a graduate student studying the psychology of romantic relationships, I remember learning about “the cohabitation effect” in a few of my courses. Relationship scientists coined this term to describe the increased risk of divorce that seemed to accompany living together before marriage. At the time, several studies had been published in major journals supporting this idea.
Interestingly, however, recent studies suggest that “the cohabitation effect” is a thing of the past—and may have never even existed at all.Read More
I shared an article on Twitter the other day about the prevalence of infidelity, which prompted a response from my pal Dan Savage about how cheating is associated with the length of a relationship. Basically, he wanted to know whether cheating is more or less common when you look at couples that have been together for a very long time. This is an interesting question and one that I’ve actually never been asked before, so I did some digging and here’s what I found. It turned out to be a pretty interesting story.Read More
There’s a lot of research out there looking at how many people have cheated, their reasons for cheating, and what “counts” as cheating; however, surprisingly little work has looked at who people are actually having sex with when they commit infidelity. Is it usually with someone they know, or with a stranger? And does this differ for men and women? A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some answers.Read More
Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.Read More
Social scientists have long been interested in the factors that predict divorce. Over the years, they’ve identified a number of things that seem to increase the odds of a couple dissolving their marriage; however, the evidence hasn’t always been consistent across studies, with some effects being more reliable than others. In this article, we'll review some of the most interesting findings from this area of research.Read More
In the final budget proposal submitted by the Obama administration last year, funding for abstinence-only sex education was put on the chopping block. They proposed eliminating abstinence-only programs entirely and, although it didn't ultimately come to pass, their proposal at least showed recognition of the fact that we need a new approach to sex education in this country. Study after study has shown that promoting abstinence only just doesn’t work. In fact, if anything, it seems to be counterproductive. For example, research has found that the U.S. states with the most abstinence-only programs actually have the highest rates of teen pregnancy !Read More
Both before and after the recent election of French president Emmanuel Macron, his wife, Brigitte, found herself to be the target of constant attacks on social media. Why? Because she happens to be 24 years older than her husband.
Age-gap relationships in which a woman is significantly older than her male partner have always attracted a lot of attention and scrutiny. Case in point: remember what big news it was when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were together? As you may have noticed, this same scrutiny isn’t usually applied to relationships in which men are significantly older than their female partners. As some evidence of this, just consider what a non-issue it has been that U.S. President Donald Trump happens to be 24 years older than his wife, Melania (the same age-gap as the Macrons).Read More
I recently blogged about the results of a new study reporting that Americans today are having less sex than they were a quarter century ago. Specifically, this research suggests that Americans are having sex about 9 fewer times per year than they were in the 1990s. So what accounts for this apparent decline? And does it necessarily mean—as many assume—that Americans’ sex lives and relationships are less satisfying than they once were?Read More
Afterglow refers to “the look of contentment on a person’s face after great sex,” at least according to the Urban Dictionary. In other words, the basic idea here is that sex can sometimes be so good that it has lingering effects on our happiness that others can quite literally see. Despite the popularity of this colloquial term, it’s not something that scientists have studied, which begs the question of whether there is really something to the idea of sexual afterglow and, if so, how long it lasts. A new study published in the journal Psychological Science offers some insights.Read More
How do you keep a romantic relationship healthy and strong over the long haul? Research suggests that the way we respond to our partners' emotional states may be particularly important. As discussed in the video below from our friends over at The Science of Us, a new study suggests that the more sensitive we are to a partner's positive emotions in particular, the better off our relationships tend to be.Read More
When I was in graduate school studying the psychology of romantic relationships, I learned about something called “the cohabitation effect.” This was the term scientists were using to describe the increased risk of divorce that accompanies living together before marriage. At the time, several studies had been published supporting this idea.
Recent research has challenged it, though.Read More
The U.S. marriage rate is in decline. In fact, it keeps hitting record lows. Some view this as a very discouraging sign about the state of Americans’ relationships. However, whereas this has led some to adopt a rather pessimistic view of the future, others believe there is still much reason for optimism. For example, as Dr. Helen Fisher argues in the Big Think video below, the fact that Americans aren’t rushing into marriage the way that they used to may actually signify something very positive.Read More
Several studies have found that infidelity is linked to both poor relationship quality and divorce. But is that because infidelity is harmful to relationships, or is it perhaps because low quality relationships predispose people to cheating? As it turns out, research suggests that both explanations may be correct.Read More
A reader submitted the following question:
“I'm a married guy in my mid-40s. I'm happily married and travel a lot for work. Since my teens I've been an avid masturbator. I sort of thought I'd stop after getting married and I did for a little while. However now I bate pretty much every day that I'm not home and even sometimes when I'm home. I also enjoy straight, bi, and gay porn while bating. I'm wondering if either or both of these things are common for married guys. I sometimes feel like a bit of a freak and like I'm very unusual in these preferences/habits. And, of course, if you were wondering, my wife has no idea because I know she would freak out about both. Am I the exception or are there more guys like me out there?”
Thanks for this very interesting question. Let me address it in two parts. First, let’s consider whether it’s common for married guys to masturbate. The answer to that is easy: yes. A million times, yes.Read More
Millennials are often portrayed in the popular media as an extremely liberal bunch when it comes to sex. The impression given is that, among other things, millennials are totally cool with homosexuality, they love their casual sex, and they're shunning the notion of marriage. However, this doesn't quite match up with the data. Believe it or not, millennials' sexual attitudes may be a little more conservative on average than you've been led to think.Read More
A reader submitted the following question:
"Just how common is cheating? What percentage of people admit that they have done it before?"
This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer because it depends upon how you define “cheating.” Specifically, are you talking only about sexual infidelity, or are you also asking about emotional infidelity? When researchers use different definitions, they can obtain wildly different results!Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know the following:
“Is there any good data on how often married people have sex, on average, at different ages, or at different stages of their marriage? Or how often, for example, on average, married people in the 40s have sex? I am sure there is an immense range of variation here, but it would help to have some kind of reference point, at least, for gauging where in the spectrum one's own experiences lie. And I think this must be a fairly urgent question for a fairly large number of people, especially in marriages where there is a significant desire gap between the two partners.”Read More
A recent New York Times piece by Lori Gottlieb entitled "Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?" made a lot of waves over the weekend. Gottlieb's analysis suggests that couples in egalitarian marriages (i.e., marriages in which the spouses share power and divide responsibilities equally) tend to have worse sex lives than couples who adopt more traditional gender roles. As some support for this idea, Gottlieb cited a study published in the American Sociological Review last year, which reported that married couples who divide household chores along gendered lines (i.e., with women doing more work inside the home, such as cleaning and ironing, and men doing more work outside of the home, such as mowing the lawn and fixing the car) have sex more often than couples who divide chores evenly . However, a closer look at this research suggests that Gottlieb (like many others who have reported on this particular study) may be overselling the implications.Read More