Family, Sex

Had Sex In High School? You're More Likely To Get Divorced

couple kissing backseat of car

A new study may have you regretting losing your virginity in the backseat of your high school boyfriend's car. The latest research claims that women who have sex for the first time in their teens are more likely to get divorced.

Lead author Anthony Paik, as associate professor at the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, analyzed 3,793 responses from women to a 2002 survey about family demographics. He found that 31 percent of those who lost their virginity as teens were divorced in five years and another 47 percent had split from their spouses within 10 years.

Those who waited to have sex until they were older had a lower chance of their marriages ending: Just 15 percent divorced in five years and 27 percent called it quits in 10.

"One possibility is ... the women who had sex as adolescents were predisposed to divorce," said Paik. "The attitudes that made them feel OK about having sex as teens may have also influenced the outcome of their marriage. The other possibility is a casual explanation -- that the early sexual experience led to the development of behaviors or beliefs that promote divorce."

Through further research, Paik found that many of the women didn't want lose their virginity so early. Only 1 percent wanted to have sex at 13 or younger, 5 percent wanted to at 14 or 15 and 10 percent wanted to at 16 or 17. Forty-two percent admitted that they didn't want to have their first sexual experience before they turned 18.

"If the sex was not completely wanted or occurred in a traumatic context, it's easy to imagine how that could have a negative impact on how women might feel about relationships, or on relationship skills," Paik said. "The experience could point people on a path toward less stable relationships."

What about the women who said they did want to have sex as teenagers? Is divorce more likely for them too?

"The results are consistent with the argument that there are downsides to adolescent sexuality, including the increased likelihood of divorce," Paik said. "But ... if a teen delays sex to late adolescence and it is wanted, that choice in itself doesn't necessarily lead to increased risk of divorce."

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.