How Many Couples Wait Until Marriage to Have Sex?

Russell Wilson and Ciara (Wenner Media)

Russell Wilson and Ciara (Wenner Media)

Last month, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson proposed to singer Ciara. While this narrative isn’t uncommon (professional athlete gets with professional singer), one thing about their courtship has stuck out: Wilson and Ciara (I’d use her last name here if she used it herself) abstained from sex during their courtship. And they were loud and clear about it.

You may think this example is an outlier. So how many couples wait until marriage to have sex?

A 2006 study by the Guttmacher Institute took data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002. Around 40K+ subjects ages 15-44 were asked about their sex lives. In 2002, around 95% reported having premarital sex (shocker <– sarcasm right here.) So that’d be around 5% who reported staying virgins til marriage. But this is all self-reported data, so I can’t tell if answers were blinded or not. (Respondents might lie if their answers aren’t blinded.)

This is a upswing from back in the day, but not a total shock. Dr. Alfred Kinsey tackled this same question in his seminal works, 1948’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” and 1953’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.” He found that 67-98% of men had had premarital sex, “depending on socioeconomic level” (I would love to know what that means!), with 68% losing it before turning 18. Women fell into a 50-50 split of whether they’d had premarital sex or not. (This kind of turns the prudish ’50s narrative on its ass, doesn’t it?)

Even thought we have some data, it’s difficult to predict the numbers of virgins-til-marriage completely accurately if the numbers are all self-reported. Some might not self-report accurately due to shame or any number of factors. That being said, nothing wrong with their decision to wait.

 

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