4 Cool Statistics About Abstinence in the USANovember 30th, 2012 by Mike
Compared to other groups with similar numbers, people who wait until marriage to have sex are a pretty under-discussed minority in the United States. There is much discussion about whether it’s “right” to wait, whether to educate people on waiting, etc., but not much is said (or studied) about the millions of people in the US who actually wait. That’s something we here at WaitingTillMarriage.org hope to change!
1. About 3% of Americans wait until marriage to have sex (successfully)
Three percent of the US population may seem like a small number, but that represents nearly 10,000,000 successful waiters-till-marriage. That’s ten million people (alive right now in the US alone) who waited, found love, got married, then had sex for the first time after they were married.
If you also include people who wait for a while but don’t wait all the way until marriage, then the percentage goes up even higher. For example, 11% of modern 25-year-olds have not had premarital sex. If you include higher ages, then the percentage goes down to the 3% number.
To give you some perspective: About 4% of the US population is gay. Think about how many gay people you’ve seen in your life. That’s about how many waiters-till-marriage there are. Regrettably, we’re not as easy to identify as gay people are (studies have shown that people can determine sexual orientation just by looking at faces), which leaves many waiters feeling much more alone than they deserve to.
2. In highly religious groups, up to 20% wait until marriage successfully
Naturally, religious people seem more likely to wait until marriage to have sex. In a study of 9 Southern Babtist churches in Texas (it doesn’t get much more conservative than that), 20% of the church members aged 25 or younger were married without ever having premarital sex.
Side note: There is a lot of research showing that religion is good at helping people commit more strongly to things than they would otherwise. For example, religious married couples have a slightly lower chance of divorce than nonreligious/nonpracticing married couples because they have a stronger sense of moral commitment. That is, they’re more likely to stick to a particular course of action simply because they feel that it’s right.
3. Women wait more than men, but lots of guys wait too
In the general population, the ratio of women-to-men who wait until marriage to have sex seems to be about 60/40 girls-to-guys. This statistic disproves the common misconception that only women wait until marriage to have sex. Statistically-speaking, plenty of guys wait too!
Side note: People who argue that waiting till marriage is anti-feminist often base their argument on the assumption that only women wait. That argument kind of falls apart if almost the same amount of guys wait too, because then it’s equal (and equal is pro-feminist). Granted, waiter women still outnumber waiter men by 20%, so there is still some inequality between the genders, but not nearly as much as you’d expect.
Fun fact: Our guy/girl ratio here at WaitingTillMarriage.org is about 65/35 girls-to-guys, so we’re pretty close to being representative of the general population’s 60/40 ratio (which is pretty freakin’ cool, if you ask me).
4. More people waited in the 1950s, but not as much as you’d think
Popular belief holds that everybody waited until marriage in the past, then the 1960s came along and dethroned us waiters-till-marriage from the mainstream, relegating us to a fringe minority. I think you could make the case that cultural attitudes towards premarital sex have changed dramatically since the 1950s, but people’s behaviors have changed less than you think.
Even though waiting until marriage for sex was much more expected in the 1950s, those who actually waited were still in the minority.
If you’re curious: After an initial drop in waiting till marriage during the 60s, our share of the population has held pretty stable for the last 40 years.
I hope you liked this; more stats to come!