A new study out of the University of Utah finds that women with either no sexual partners or one—most typically, her future spouse—before marriage are the least likely to get divorced within five years; women with 10 or more are the most. A closer look at the numbers, though, reveals what researcher Nicholas H. Wolfinger reports on the Institute for Family Studies' blog to be a "complicated picture of the association between sex and marital stability that ultimately raises more questions than it answers." That is, in part, because women who've had exactly two sexual partners before getting married are more likely to get a divorce than women who've had three to nine, and in the 1980s and '90s they were actually more likely to divorce than women with 10 or more sexual partners.
"In short: If you're going to have comparisons to your [future] husband, it's best to have more than one," Wolfinger says in a Newswise statement. In the 2000s, about 33% of women in the 10+ category saw their marriages end by year five; that fell to 30% for two partners, roughly 25% for three to nine partners, and just over 20% for one. Virgin marriages had just a 6% divorce rate. While the takeaway of news outlets such as the Federalist and Christian Post is that abstinence is key, the Daily Beast takes issue with the fact that women, not men, are "placed under the magnifying glass when we examine the effects of premarital sex on marriage." Indeed, Wolfinger notes that the National Survey of Family Growth, which he used, "doesn't have full data on men's premarital sexual behavior." (Slept with many people? Here are five ways to see where you rank.)