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Sex Habits of American Men: A Symposium on the Kinsey Report | JAMA

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July 16, 1949

JAMA. 1949;140(11):994. doi:10.1001/jama.1949.02900460064041

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The publication of the Kinsey report aroused a flood of essays and comments which approached the problem from many different points of view. The collection of essays included in this book is better than most because of the qualifications of the contributors. The work is certainly not one for the average reader, who is likely to come away from its reading more confused than if he had limited himself to Kinsey's original book. As might be expected, the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish points of view vary, and one wonders why a book of the type of the Kinsey book should be submitted to that type of study. The criticisms in the various chapters take the colors of the well established attitudes of the writers. If the reader has previously approached the subject he obviously colors what he reads by his own attitudes. If this seems confusing, it is.

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Dating and relationships: Key findings on views and experiences in the US


Dating has always come with challenges. But the advent of dating apps and other new technologies – as well as the #MeToo movement – presents a new set of norms and expectations for American singles looking for casual or committed relationships, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Some 15% of U.S. adults say they are single and looking for a committed relationship or casual dates. Among them, most say they are dissatisfied with their dating lives, according to the survey, which was conducted in October 2019 – before the coronavirus pandemic shook up the dating scene. Here are some additional key findings from the study.

How we did this

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand Americans’ attitudes toward and personal experiences with dating and relationships. These findings are based on a survey conducted Oct. 16-28, 2019, among 4,860 U.S. adults. This includes those who took part as members of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses, as well as respondents from the Ipsos KnowledgePanel who indicated that they identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB).

Recruiting ATP panelists by phone or mail ensures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. This gives us confidence that any sample can represent the whole U.S. adult population (see our Methods 101 explainer on random sampling). To further ensure that each ATP survey reflects a balanced cross-section of the nation, the data is weighted to match the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.

For more, see the report’s methodology about the project. You can also find the questions asked and the answers the public provided in this topline.

Nearly half (47%) of all Americans say dating is harder today than it was 10 years ago. A third of adults (33%) say dating is about the same as it was a decade ago, and 19% say it’s easier. Women are much more likely than men to say dating has gotten harder (55% vs. 39%).

Among those who say dating is harder today, 21% think it is because of increased risk, including physical risks as well as the risk of getting scammed or lied to. Women are twice as likely as men to cite increased risk as a reason why dating is harder (26% vs. 13%).

Other reasons why people think dating is harder include technology (12%), the idea that dating has become more impersonal (10%), the more casual nature of dating today (9%), and changing societal expectations, moral or gender roles (8%).

Technology tops the list of reasons why people think dating has gotten easier in the last decade. Among those who say dating is easier today, 41% point to technology, followed by 29% who say it’s easier to meet people now and 10% who cite changing gender roles and societal expectations.

Most daters don’t feel like their dating life is going well and say it’s been hard to find people to date. Two-thirds of those who are single and looking for a relationship or dates say their dating life is going not too or not at all well (67%), while 33% say it’s going very or fairly well. Majorities of daters across gender, age, race and ethnicity, education, sexual orientation and marital history say their dating life isn’t going well.

Three-quarters of daters say it’s been difficult to find people to date in the past year, according to the pre-coronavirus survey. Among the top reasons cited are finding someone looking for the same type of relationship (53%), finding it hard to approach people (46%) and finding someone who meets their expectations (43%).

Substantial shares of daters also report other obstacles, including the limited number of people in their area (37%), being too busy (34%) and people not being interested in dating them (30%).

A majority (57%) of women – and 35% of men – say they have experienced some kind of harassing behavior from someone they were dating or had been on a date with. Women are much more likely than men to say they have been pressured for sex (42% vs. 19%) or have been touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable (35% vs. 9%). While the gender gap is smaller, women are also more likely than men to say someone they have been on a date with sent them unwanted sexually explicit images or spread rumors about their sexual history.

Some 42% of women younger than 40 say someone they’ve been on a date with has sent them unwanted sexually explicit images, compared with 26% of men in this age group. And while 23% of women younger than 40 say someone they have been on a date with has spread rumors about their sexual history, 16% of younger men say the same. There is no gender gap on these questions among those older than 40.

Many Americans say an increased focus on sexual harassment and assault has muddied the waters, especially for men, in the dating landscape. A majority of Americans (65%) say the increased focus on sexual harassment and assault over the last few years has made it harder for men to know how to interact with someone they’re on a date with. About one-in-four adults (24%) say it hasn’t made much of a difference, while 9% say it has made things easier for men.

Meanwhile, 43% of Americans say the attention paid to sexual harassment and assault has made it harder for women to know how to interact with someone they’re on a date with, compared with 38% who say it hasn’t made much of a difference and 17% who say it’s easier for women.

Men are more likely than women to think the focus on sexual harassment and assault has made it harder for men to know how to act on dates. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say this. Older men are also more likely than their younger counterparts to hold this view: Three-quarters of men 50 and older say it’s harder for single-and-looking men to know how to behave, compared with 63% of men younger than 50.

Premarital sex is largely seen as acceptable, but more Americans see open relationships and sex on the first date as taboo. Most adults (65%) say sex between unmarried adults in a committed relationship can be acceptable, and about six-in-ten (62%) say casual sex between consenting adults who aren’t in a committed relationship is acceptable at least sometimes. While men and women have similar views about premarital sex, men are much more likely than women to find casual sex acceptable (70% vs. 55%).

Americans are less accepting of other practices. For example, open relationships – that is, committed relationships where both people agree that it is acceptable to date or have sex with other people – are viewed as never or rarely acceptable by most Americans. About half of adults (48%) say having an open relationship is never acceptable, 20% say it’s rarely acceptable and 32% say it’s sometimes or always acceptable.

When it comes to consenting adults sharing sexually explicit images of themselves, about half of adults (49%) say it is at least sometimes acceptable, while a similar share (50%) say it is rarely or never acceptable. However, there are large age differences in views of this practice. Adults ages 18 to 29 are more than three times as likely as those 65 and older to say this is always or sometimes acceptable (70% vs. 21%). Younger adults are also more likely to say open relationships can be acceptable.

Many singles are open to dating someone who is different from them, but certain characteristics would give some people pause. Distance, debt and voting for Donald Trump top the list of reasons singles looking for a relationship wouldn’t consider a potential partner, but there are other considerations, too. For example, 38% say dating someone 10 years older than them would give them pause, and 36% say the same about dating someone who is raising children from another relationship. Some of those looking for a relationship also say they definitely or probably wouldn’t consider being in a relationship with someone who is a Republican (27% of all daters), someone who voted for Hillary Clinton (26%), someone who practices a different religion (23%) or someone who is a different race or ethnicity (15%). Among daters looking for a relationship who are 28 and older, 27% say they definitely or probably wouldn’t consider a relationship with someone 10 years younger than them.

There are some differences in these attitudes by gender, political party and age. For example, single women looking for a relationship are roughly three times as likely as men to say they wouldn’t consider a relationship with someone who makes significantly less money than them (24% vs. 7%). Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they probably or definitely wouldn’t consider a committed relationship with someone of a different race or ethnicity (21% vs. 12%). And when it comes to debt, 59% of adults 40 and older say they probably or definitely wouldn’t consider a committed relationship with someone who has significant debt, compared with 41% of people younger than 40.

While meeting partners through personal networks is still the most common kind of introduction, about one-in-ten partnered adults (12%) say they met their partner online. About a third (32%) of adults who are married, living with a partner or are in a committed relationship say friends and family helped them find their match. Smaller shares say they met through work (18%), through school (17%), online (12%), at a bar or restaurant (8%), at a place of worship (5%) or somewhere else (8%).

Meeting online is more common among younger adults and those who live in urban and suburban areas, as well as those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). About one-in-five partnered adults ages 18 to 29 (21%) say they met their partner online, compared with 15% or fewer among their older counterparts. And while 28% of partnered LGB adults say they met their partner online, 11% of those who are straight say the same.  

Among those who met their partner online, 61% say they met through a dating app, while 21% met on a social media site or app, 10% met on an online discussion forum, 3% met on a texting or messaging app and 3% through online gaming.  

Half of singles say they aren’t currently looking for a relationship or dates. Among these single non-daters, 47% say a major reason why they aren’t currently looking for a relationship or dates is that they have more important priorities, while 44% say they just like being single. Other factors include being too busy (20%), not having had luck in the past (18%), feeling like no one would be interested in dating them (17%), not being ready to date after losing a spouse or ending a relationship (17%), feeling too old to date (17%) and having health problems that make dating difficult (11%).

While these answers are mostly similar for men and women, there is one notable exception: Male non-daters are about twice as likely as female non-daters to say a major reason they aren’t looking to date is the feeling that no one would be interested in dating them (26% vs. 12%).

There is also some variation by age. For example, 61% of non-daters younger than 50 say that a major reason they aren’t looking to date is that they have more important priorities, compared with 38% of older non-daters. And a quarter of non-daters ages 50 and older – including 30% of those 65 and up – say a major reason is they that feel too old to date.

Note: Here are the questions asked for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Amanda Barroso  is a former writer/editor focusing on social trends at Pew Research Center.


How Americans meet, fall in love and get married

Sex in gender relations has depreciated and can no longer serve as the "engine of progress" in the marriage market, as it was several decades ago. Sociologist Mark Regnerus came to that conclusion in a recent study published in the form of a book, Premarital Sexual Relationships in America: How Americans Meet, Cohabit, and Marry.

For Regnerus, there is an obvious trend in which the scenario of a kind of “barter of goods” in the marriage market, when men had to first get married in order to gain access to quality permanent sex, became impossible.

At the same time, the expert emphasizes that there is an overabundance of men in the sexual "market" of modern American society, and an overabundance of women in the marriage "market".
This far from new trend, as Regnerus says, has been brought to the "absolute" in our days.

“50 years ago, the sex market and the marriage market were closely linked. Now the situation has changed. Women, who are more numerous in the marriage market, suffer the most from this,” the expert says.

“A woman can no longer set a “high” price for herself and hope that a man worthy of her expectations and hopes will be ready to offer this price,” continues Regnerus, explaining that by “price” in this case he means the same "Commodity" exchange of sex for social benefits, one of which is still considered marriage in society.

Sex's "exchange rate"

Hanna Rosin, senior editor at The Atlantic, agrees with Regnerus. She emphasizes: “Sex has an exchange rate. Especially for women. And now this rate is at a historically low level.”

Mark Regnerus, in his own words, can talk for hours about what led to this situation. One of the main theories in this regard is that the “price of sex” many years ago was greatly reduced by the appearance of the contraceptive pill.

“The advent of the pill for women has dramatically changed the way people approach marriage and sexual relationships,” says Mark Regnerus.

Hanna Rozin, at the same time, notes that the decrease in the "price" of sexual relations can be regarded as a natural development of modern society. For Rozin, the routine of sex is not a drama, but rather an opportunity to reflect on the importance of what should be the priority of modern relations between the sexes.

“We need to stop obsessing over marriage, dramatizing the lowering of the price of sex, and focus on building sustainable quality relationships. This should be a priority for couples. Everything else will form and form around this,” says Rozin.

Kay Himowitz, author of "Maturation: How Women's Success Turns Men into Children," also argues for the theory that Americans should prioritize marriage.

She studied the behavioral trends of college educated youth and found that marriage plans for young people are not a priority.

“In order to succeed in today's economic climate, you need a good education, lots of skills. This means that young people devote a lot of time to professional development, and getting married is not among their priorities,” Himovitz emphasizes.

The expert also notes the matriarchalization of American society.

“A good education for young women now guarantees autonomy, which is often what they value most. It is embedded in the culture itself as a mantra - we must be independent and self-sufficient, ”Himovitz shares his observations.

Education, status, betrayal

All experts note that couples with higher education are more likely to create stable marriages and keep them for a long time.

The eternal question of the stability of marriages (if they happen), Mark Regnerus in his book worries no less than the "devaluation" of sex.

An expert made an observation in this context, which he shared with the public at the presentation of his book at the Washington Heritage Foundation.

"The most successful and stable marriages are those in which the spouses are more attractive to each other than to others," Regnerus emphasized.

During the presentation, a discussion arose about how the status of spouses affects the survival of marriages.

Discussants suggested that men with high social and financial status, contrary to stereotypes, are good partners with strong families.

Mark Regnerus suggests that this is facilitated by social and financial satisfaction, which is projected onto the family life of such men.

“They see marriage as a kind of buffer between them and the realities in which the social influence and financial independence of women become defining features,” the expert emphasizes.

At the same time, psychologists and sociologists still advise to stay away from the so-called "alpha" men, whose behavior in personal relationships is built according to the scheme "I came, I saw, I conquered."

As an example, the discussants, without saying a word, cited ... Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Why marry Schwarzenegger at all,” exclaims Hanna Rozin.

Mark Regnerus, however, in defense of the ex-governor of California, adds that "the natural inclinations of men often, nevertheless, take their toll."

Kay Himowitz cites research data showing that infidelity in marriage has different causes for men and women. Women, as a rule, must be unhappy in family life in order to decide to cheat on their partner; for men, this component is optional. As psychologists have established, even men who are completely satisfied with family life can commit adultery.

For more information about the events in the US, see the Americas section.

Friendship Sex: Can Friendship Last When Sex Ends?


Sex Man and woman

Friendship sex: pros and cons

Looking at the full spectrum of sexual relationships, from casual relationships like one-night stands to truly romantic relationships with a regular partner for several years, friendly sex will be somewhere in the middle between these poles.

There is nothing surprising in it: the partners know each other quite well, often even for more than one year, they have a history of non-sexual relationships, and there is already a certain level of emotional closeness between them. In other words, friendships can protect against the risks that casual relationships are fraught with, for example, the danger of running into a rude, aggressive or inadequate partner or becoming a victim of rumors about your promiscuity.

“But at the same time, friendship sex is far from a full-fledged relationship — such partners always lack obligations regarding a joint future, and the expectations of monogamy in these relationships may not come true,” notes Zhana Vrangalova. “Sexual relationships between friends help to avoid the danger of opening up and getting close to a completely “not your” person, but also does not guarantee that a long-term alliance that suits both can arise from this.

In addition to the obvious benefits of sexual satisfaction coupled with companionship and support, friendly sex has two more important benefits, according to American evolutionary psychologist Peter Jonason.

When a person gets a sex partner, he fills the void that occurs in the absence of a full-fledged relationship. Often such a connection becomes a temporary outlet for him, while he is in search of a partner who will truly suit him.

On the other hand, an intimate relationship with a well-known person can become a kind of "testing ground" for him, allowing him to check whether he is really ready for a more serious relationship in principle - and perhaps with this partner in particular.

But, as a rule, "sex friends" do not pass this test of strength: only 10-20% of sexual friendships turn into long-term romantic relationships. The vast majority, after some time - sometimes months, and sometimes several years - are faced with the fact that sexual desire disappears. What's next? Does friendship end with sex and is there a chance to maintain a warm relationship after that?

Does sex destroy friendships?

There is a widespread belief that sex complicates relationships by destroying friendships. This question worries those who think about the prospect of friendly sex. In a survey conducted by American interpersonal experts Melissa Bisson and Timothy Levin, the destruction of friendships was the second most frequently mentioned disadvantage of friendly sex (28% of respondents answered so), in the first place was the risk of developing an unrequited feeling (65% of respondents).

However, the results of another recent study cast doubt on these concerns. A research team led by Dr. Jesse Owen of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, conducted a survey of 1,000 college students about their experiences with friendly sex.

Of the 300 people who had sexual friendships during the last year that they no longer maintained by the time of the survey, 80% said they remained friends with their partners. Moreover, half of them noted that their relationship became even closer and warmer than before the sexual relationship. It is curious that both boys and girls equally agreed with this.

Friendship can end in different ways. For example, sexual desire may disappear or sex ceases to be enjoyable

It happens that one of the partners falls in love with the other, and then one or both of them decide that it was a bad idea. Sometimes one of the partners has a serious relationship with someone else. But be that as it may, many couples do not see the problem in becoming "just friends" again.

Common history and common memories, emotional intimacy and mutual sympathy do not go away and can become a good foundation for continuing relations in a different format.

Why didn't the other 20% of the respondents manage to remain friends with their former partners? As it turned out, the initial conditions for their relationship were somewhat different. Either their "friendly sex" was originally based on something more than a mutual physiological attraction, or their friendship was not strong enough. After the end of their relationship, they felt both betrayed and at the same time generally spoke more negatively about the ended relationship than those who managed to maintain the friendship.

“So if you have a 'sex friend' or are just considering starting a sexual relationship with someone you know, you don't have to worry about friendship: if your relationship is strong enough without sex, then sex by itself can hardly destroy them. And if your friendship cannot survive after physical contact, there is a high probability that it was not a friendship at all, ”says sexologist Zhana Vrangalova.

Text: Galina Chermenskaya, Yulia Kolotyrkina, Zhana Vrangalova Photo Source: Getty Images

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