A pretty odd (and perhaps insensitive) question right? Well, having read the findings of a University of Iowa study directly linking teen sex to divorces, the question is worth considering. If you are a female who had sex for the first time before age 16, you may want to read this.
Here is something to make you lose your breakfast: “31 percent of women who had sex for the first time as teens divorced within five years, and 47 percent divorced within 10 years.” But, everybody is getting divorced these days, right? Apparently not, “The divorce rate for women who delayed sex until adulthood was far lower: 15 percent at five years, and 27 percent at 10 years.”
So now you see the relevance of my question: Are girls who had sex early, doomed to divorce? Lets look a bit more at what the study found.
The Effects of Losing Innocence
Two major issues highlighted were 1) the time (age) at which the girl chose to lose her virginity and 2) the girl’s feelings at the time (whether it was wanted or unwanted).
Below 16 – “When the first intercourse took place early in adolescence –- before the age of 16 –- the women were more likely to divorce, even if that first sexual experience was wanted.”
16 and Older – “If the young woman waited until age 16 or 17 and the first sex was wanted, there was no direct link to dissolution down the road.”
Why Are Girls Who Had Sex Early More Likely To Divorce?
These were the discernible answers from the study:
1) Starting early sets a wave of destructive or unhelpful things in motion.
The study found that for both girls under and above 16, “while the sex itself did not increase the likelihood of a marital split, other factors related to sexuality -– such as a higher number of sexual partners, pregnancy, or out-of-wedlock birth -– increased the risk for some respondents.”
Thirty-one percent of women who experienced adolescent sexual debut had premarital sex with multiple partners, compared to 24 percent of those who waited. Twenty-nine percent experienced premarital conceptions, versus 15 percent who waited. And, one in four women who had sex during their teenage years had a baby before they were married, compared to only one in ten who held off.
Basically early sex may lead to kids, a long scary sexual history, crazy ex-boyfriends, venereal diseases, and all the stuff that may make marriage harder.
2) The trauma involved in the first experience may have damaged the girl’s more than they realised.
According to author Anthony Paik, associate professor of sociology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences the most plausible explanation of why early sex affected the girl’s marriages later on in life is:
“… a causal explanation –- that the early sexual experience led to the development of behaviors or beliefs that promote divorce.”
This point is similar to the first point, but more rooted in the idea of trauma.
“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.”
So, Are Girls Who Had Sex Early Doomed?
“Doomed” is too strong a term. There is obviously a major hurdle, but there is hope. Note:
1) The study found that 47 percent divorced – not 70, 80, 90 or 100 percent.
It means that at least 50 percent of girls who had early sex found some way to make it through.
2) The study was able to identify and highlight the major issues that hinder girls when they become women.
If it can be identified, it can be fixed (most times). Those who are serious about having successful marriages may work at these issues before they begin. Prayer, counselling, therapy, forgiveness, sharing – healing and wholeness is possible.
Obviously this is a major reason for girls in their teens to make every effort to wait, and for those around them (you and I) to make every effort to help them.