Making time for your partner amongst hectic schedules is no doubt difficult for some Americans. The demands of parenthood and careers often come before any solid one-on-one time for married couples today. Life happens, and it’s easy for a relationship to take the back burner, unintentionally.
CivicScience studied American’s sex lives back in May, and one thing was clear: Americans want more sex.
This second study takes a deeper dive into implications of our relationships: how does the amount of sex, or lack thereof, someone is having correlate to infidelity and a negative outlook on whether a relationship or marriage will last?
First things first: How do coupled Americans view the longevity of their relationship, and does the amount of sex they’re having correlate highly, if at all?
Of more than 2,600 married survey respondents, only three-fourths are confident their relationships will last.
Four percent say they’ll most likely split when their kids are grown, and another 6% say they won’t necessarily stay together. A whopping 9% say they really aren’t so sure.
Having sex happens at similar rates for those who say they are in a good relationship that will last or are somewhat on the fence (‘not necessarily’). However, those who say they will split and those who say they are not sure their relationship will last forever are the most likely to rarely or never have sex.
This says a couple of things: sex doesn’t make or break the relationship for many married people, but it may not help matters if your relationship is on the rocks. Having less sex likely contributes to feelings of uncertainty about the future, but from this study, we certainly can’t glean which came first: the uncertainty or having less sex overall.
Among married U.S. adults who answered (excluding those who ‘prefer not to say’), infidelity is not uncommon. Only 71% of the 3,000 survey respondents said they have been fully faithful in their relationships.
Eleven percent, however, have cheated on their current spouses, with over half (6%) indicating that their current spouses are unaware of their infidelity. Oof, that’s a lot to unpack.
Excluding those in an open relationship where cheating is not applicable, the below chart shows that more than one-fourth of Americans have cheated at some point in their lives.
Who are these cheaters? Men are more likely to have cheated on their current spouses, and also more likely to have kept it from them. Overall, men are more likely to have cheated in general.
What’s interesting is parental status doesn’t play a role in the likelihood to cheat. Parents and non-parents have been unfaithful to their current partner at the very same rate.
When we compare infidelity to how much sex people in non-open relationships are having, the results are interesting. Again, a lot to unpack here.
Those who have cheated in their current relationship and not told their spouse / partner are the most likely to report rarely or never having sex. Those who have cheated and fessed up, though a small segment of the sample, are having weekly sex at a higher rate than any of the other segments. Could this be because they are trying to mend the relationship and making a point to spend time together? Or just to make up for it, out of guilt? Possibly, but we can only speculate here. And lastly, those who have never been unfaithful have the second highest rate of sex and are the least likely to report a stagnant sex life.
Having a solid relationship, or the belief that the one you’re in will last forever, correlates with lower rates of infidelity. Only 10% of those who believe their current relationship will last forever have cheated on that person. However, this only goes up as the answer choices change. Those who say they will most likely split when their kids are grown are the most likely to have been unfaithful to their spouse or partner, followed by the realistic ‘not necessarily’ answer choice and those who are plainly ‘not sure’.
Though it’s not black and white, it’s clear that one thing leads to another: uncertainty about the future of your relationship could lead to cheating, or cheating could lead to uncertainty about the future. It’s likely not that simple.
The little things
Staying together could come down to dating, and having more sex.
This sounds like an obvious concept, in a way. But that doesn’t mean it’s common. A couple of years back, CivicScience looked at Americans going on dates. Coupled up people go on a lot fewer dates as time goes on.
But is this the secret to a happy relationship? Maybe one of them.
Dates = More sex
Going on dates correlates to more frequent sex among American adults. This comes as no surprise; carving out time for one another likely leads to overall happiness in a relationship.
Dates = Longevity
In turn, dating your spouse creates more certainty about the future of a relationship. Those who do go on dates are much more likely to say they will be with their partners forever.
To back that up, somebody who’s been unfaithful to their current spouse or partner is much less likely to still go on dates with that person.
Re-do? Maybe not.
Those who would still marry their current spouse today report having sex at higher rates than those who say no. Those who say no or that they aren’t sure (which, let’s be real, is basically a no in its own right) report the highest levels of ‘rarely or never’ having sex.
And this could just come down to deciding you don’t like your current partner anymore and want to be with someone else, as the correlation with infidelity shows below.
The grass may be greener, but it doesn’t necessarily end in glee.
Those who have been unfaithful report much higher rates of unhappiness than those who have stayed true to their spouse.
We’re talking loads happier than the cheaters.
And while this study is not pro-monogamy or anti-cheating, the results paint a clear picture that relationships – from sex to infidelity to looking into the future – are complicated, but one probably leads to another.