Valentine’s Day: Americans less likely to have sex or marry

Valentine's Day: Americans less likely to have sex or marry

Valentine’s Day: Americans less likely to have sex or marry


In fact, here are four potentially troubling statistics and a potentially positive sign about American love.

According to the 2021 General Social Survey, 26% of Americans 18 and older have not had sex in the past 12 months. You might think it’s just a pandemic effect, but it’s part of a long-term trend. 2016 (23%) and 2018 (23%), the last two times the survey was conducted, had the second highest percentage of adults who said they had not had sex in the past year. Before 2004, the highest percentage of Americans who said they had not had sex in the past year was 19 percent.

Last year’s survey was also the first time that the percentage of Americans having sex once or less per month exceeded 50 percent. In 1989, 35 percent of American adults had sex once a month or less.

Some of this has to do with fewer marriages and an aging population, but that doesn’t explain the whole story. Among married couples under the age of 60, 26% will have sex once a month or less in 2021. In 1989 the proportion was 12%. The 1980s were indeed more suitable for sex. Read more: How well are you fighting when it comes to love?

Our cohabitation is at a 30-year low

Fewer and fewer people are living with their partners. It’s not just about sex. About 62 percent of Americans ages 25 to 54 live with a partner or are married, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center study of 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data. This includes 53% of married people and 9% of cohabiting people. That’s far lower than the 71 percent of cohabiting couples in 1990, of which 67 percent were married and 4 percent lived together.

You might think that the growing number of unmarried people living without a spouse is due to the rising education levels of women who don’t need men’s financial support. Statistics tell a different story, though. Educated people and people with higher incomes were most likely to live with a partner or marry. Pew polls show that many people won’t get married if they don’t think it’s financially viable.

Compared to the 1990 baseline, unmarried men living alone (10 points) also increased more than women (7 points).

Partnerships are low, not just marriages

Is it just people who are still in relationships but don’t want to be tied down by cohabitation or marriage? Yes, but the stats suggest there’s something else cooking.

Since 1986, the General Social Survey has intermittently asked participants whether they had a stable partner. Last year, 30 percent of adults aged 25 to 54 (the same age group as the Pew study) said they did not have a stable partner. In 1986, the ratio was 20%. In fact, before the 2010s, the percentage of 25- to 54-year-olds who said they didn’t have a stable partner never exceeded 23%. Since then, every survey has been at 25% or more. Interestingly, as the population ages and an increasing number of baby boomers are over 55, the proportion of older adults in a relationship has remained fairly stable—averaging in the mid-to-high 60s. Why Exercise Can Benefit Your Sexual Health, TooThis means that this single trend is more of a young person than an old one. The same goes for sex: The percentage of people 55 and older who didn’t have any sex last year (40%) was about the same as it was 30 years ago.

Many Americans won’t give their partner a card on Valentine’s Day

Of course, the reason I think about love is because today is Valentine’s Day. Love should be in the air.

However, a 2022 Monmouth University poll found that only 55 percent of Americans who are in a relationship typically receive a Valentine’s Day card from their partner. Combine that with another 45% and more than 30% of U.S. adults without a partner, and most did not get a card from a partner this year.

Again, there seems to be a lot less love among the younger generation. The vast majority (64%) of Americans 55 and older who are in a relationship say they usually get a card from their partner. Among the 35-54 year olds, it dropped to 57%, and in my age group (18-34) it was only 41%.

Getting Valentine’s Day right shouldn’t be that hard. Our partners really don’t want us so much. Only 4% want an expensive gift most on Valentine’s Day. Most people of all ages crave a simple gift like chocolate or spend the night at home with their partner doing a favorite activity.

Divorce rates are falling

If there’s any benefit to falling marriage and partnering rates, it’s that people seem less likely to jump headfirst into a marriage that’s more likely to fail.

According to the CDC/NCHS National Vital Statistics System, divorce rates and divorce rates in 2019 were at their lowest levels this century. 2.7 divorces and divorces per 1,000 people. This is down from 4 per thousand in 2000.

So it’s no surprise that divorce rates have fallen the most among young adults. This is the group least likely to marry, and those who do appear to be doing a better job of entering a marriage that has a good chance of succeeding.

Maybe one day I will be one of the lucky ones in a successful marriage. A boy can hope. Can’t he?

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