Young adults' sexual relationships increasingly favor men, research finds

Jan 18, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- While young women's educational and career opportunities have skyrocketed over the past two decades, their opportunities for stable, long-term relationships have declined, according to new research from sociologists at The University of Texas at Austin.

In their new book "Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Think About Marrying," (Oxford, 2011) researchers Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker detail the sexual attitudes, behaviors and experiences of Americans between the ages of 18 and 23. The research goes beyond the clichés about salaciousness within the largely white Greek system to provide a nuanced view of the experiences of a much wider swath of young adults.

"Hooking up gets all the attention but most sex occurs in relationships," says Regnerus.

In an era when marriage is often far from the minds of young Americans, the book provides a fuller understanding of why that is, how the place of sex in romantic relationships has shifted and what that means for young adults. The outlook for relationship security, he claims, is more grim than ever.

"There have been many changes in romantic and sexual behavior over the past 30 years," says Regnerus. "One is that the 'price of sex' among unmarried Americans has dipped to an all-time low."

Regnerus and Uecker describe the "price of sex" as the cost — to men — of romance, status, stability and commitment that men exchange for access to sex in a relationship. They argue that despite women's successes, contemporary relationships are becoming more male-centered than ever, with men gaining access to sex earlier and more often, yet providing fewer and later commitments than a generation ago.

"It is, in part, one of the unintended consequences of women's educational and professional success," Regnerus says. "Women no longer need men. When that's the case, how relationships develop will change. And they have.

"Men's economic and educational successes have stalled, creating an environment in which fewer educated and financially-stable men are selecting mates from a larger pool of educated and financially-stable women," he says. "It's created an imbalance that tips relationship power in the direction of the men. Instead of men competing for women, today women feel like they must compete for men."

The authors used data from four national surveys and dozens of face-to-face interviews to compile this unprecedented study.

also generally display few emotional consequences in their sexual choices, while women have a harder time dealing with "no strings attached" sex, the authors write. "For them, the strings are often what makes sex satisfying," says Regnerus. Women, he notes, also "seem to be happier when they’re in a relationship than when they’re not."

The book also looks at differing sexual attitudes and practices among conservatives and liberals. Conservatives tend to marry earlier but also divorce earlier, while liberals often exhibit a longer period of sexual experimentation before marriage.

Regnerus is an associate professor of sociology and a research associate with the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also the author of "Forbidden Fruit: and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers" (Oxford, 2007). Uecker earned his Ph.D. in sociology at The University of Texas at Austin in 2010 and is a postdoctoral scholar with the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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User comments : 41

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Moebius
4.6 / 5 (11) Jan 18, 2011
If women feel they have to compete for men, what kind of man are they competing for? Is it the intelligent accomplished male they are looking for or is it the image promoted by Hollywood of good looking brainless twits who have nothing going for them but looks? Maybe it's because of the media blitz of shirtless, washboard stomached stereotypes that blanket the airwaves these days? Does the media blitz of sex on most channels have something to do with this too? Another problem with the free market and doing anything that is profitable with no regard for the social consequences. The media is the greatest force of social engineering today and its motive is money, not a good combination
ArtflDgr
2.1 / 5 (8) Jan 18, 2011
despite women's successes, contemporary relationships are becoming more male-centered than ever, with men gaining access to sex earlier and more often, yet providing fewer and later commitments than a generation ago.

so basically the older system was more female centered, and feminism made it more male centered while claiming to do the opposite.

a large number of these males grew up in a no father single mother household. every successful single mother bestows on her male child the gift of his being irrelevant. and the new progressive socially engineered liberated life has a lot of other lessons and ideas that tend to unravel the knots of what holds us together as a society.

aroven
1.3 / 5 (6) Jan 18, 2011
I can't help feeling that this study would have benefited greatly from the presence of a female co-author.
redsnr
not rated yet Jan 19, 2011
Women have come a (very) long way since the sexual revolution of the 1960's. It seems very logical to think that the old values they had to put up for many centuries still hang around and influence their feelings and decisions. If they get a chance, they'll get over it, I'm sure.
Bog_Mire
5 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2011
aprt from mira mascara(?) I see no women commenting on this site at all. I would like some female input right here. Where are the girls at?
Lordjavathe3rd
3 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2011
... Where are the girls at?

Doing "girly" things I'm sure.

I don't think conventional relationships work well with the busy everyday life of a modern society. Women can't keep someone around? Perhaps what men want is changing, leave it to evolution to tell us what that is later on.

However, if a woman wants nothing other than to have her eggs fertilized and have another man provide for her, tough luck.
Sazzle
2.7 / 5 (10) Jan 19, 2011
We're all far too busy to comment :) Its all a matter of control. Men like to FEEL they are in control. While We KNOW we're in control, lol!. The point of the matter is that Men are pre programmed to always be on the lookout for opportunities to spread their genes, testosterone focuses the mind on this single 'most important' task. Our mind's aren't so focused on that single task, we take into account numerous variables, children, households, food, health, relationships and think way ahead. However because the "Male Controls" of the past,i.e. Marriage, where Females were viewed as a posession of a male, are evaporating is ts becoming increasingly acceptable for females to play the field. In the long run this generates greater genetic diversity which I'd argue is a more natural state of affairs. Remember too...'Behind every great man is an even greater woman'. Be gentle now, please guys x
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (13) Jan 19, 2011
Women are now better educated - meaning they now fully subscribe to the evolutionary ideals of being nothing more than scum from a pond, having the same sexual urges as animals and wanting to indulge exactly like that - whenever and wherever they can.

Of course that is what most [evolutionarily inclined] men desire - no strings attached to total indulgence of the physical craving.

If there's no God, there's no moral authority to answer to so one can go to the extreme as one wishes - no consequences in the long run to worry about.

This is simply what is being revealed here - the aftermath - or at least the beginning of it.
Sazzle
4.7 / 5 (12) Jan 19, 2011
I didn't realise we were "Scum from a Pond" maybe you refer to yourself in that matter - I thought that we were all "Made of Dust and unto Dust we shall return" either way dust thrown onto a pond would likely become scum so same thing really. So either way we're evolved from Dust, even the Bible says so.
Bog_Mire
2 / 5 (4) Jan 19, 2011
Sazzle - I love you, please don't go! 8)....any way please forgive Kev, he is seriously retarded in social stuff; kinda like an alien. You learn to ignore him after awhile. please stick around, we need and I value input from such beautiful minds as yours. Pleeeeeease!
Sazzle
3 / 5 (10) Jan 19, 2011
Thanks Bog. I don't ignore people its the height of bad manners. Rather than berrating our learnerd friends we should try to understand their point of view, only then can a conflict of opinions be thouroughly discussed, understood and be resolved. I've read the bible from cover to cover a few times, as well as Koran, Bede's History of the english people and may other historical books that have been fortunatye to survive to today. They really are fantastic history books based on ancient observations and their understanding at that time. Taken in the right context very educational. But times are always changing and this article just highlights that. Us females are actually capable of high level reasoning and thought and we can make decisions without the permission of the 'weaker gender'. If only males could supress their testosterone for a few weeks and see the world as it really is. This planet would be so much more pleasant than it currently is.
Bog_Mire
1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2011
I loved Bede, he was quite a guy, mustve had quite a mum, dont you think? And trust me Kev is a nice guy, but understanding his point if view is very difficult.
Moebius
1 / 5 (5) Jan 19, 2011
Women did not evolve to choose men, that's why they are so bad at it. Women choosing men is a recent trend historically speaking. Historically women had few rights for the same reason, they aren't competent to choose their own mates. If our society ever collapses it will revert to the old ways for the same reasons.

I know this won't be a popular opinion but do you think any real men honestly believe women's rights have benefited society? It has benefited women at men's expense. The reality is there are 2 intelligent species on this planet and one has to be dominant, co-existence is a myth. Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily believe mine should come out on top.
Moebius
1 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2011
If the current trend continues we will evolve into one species. Women and women who look like men. Again, not necessarily a bad thing for the species, just bad for men.
Sazzle
3.4 / 5 (7) Jan 19, 2011
Moebius, A Sith Lord from Star Wars would have been proud of that comment! Nobody is evolved to dominate anybody. Would you prefer our society to be run like the Taliban's. Obviously your comment was designed to generate an argument. Therefore in response, I suggest that the "Male Dominance" comment which is so often coined is merely an ouward sign of SOME uneducated Male's personal sense of inferiority. As for the question of benefiting society - your comment infers that only Males are part of society. If you take the whole human race into account, which incidentally includes Females, then the benefits women have gained during the last century, I would argue, have generated a NET benefit to Western society. I shall not 'Bite' at the blatantly provocotive "Not Compitent" remark, rather I shall say this... one knows when one has won an argument when your adversary resorts to personal insults. At that point one should simply walk away.
jjmerri
5 / 5 (2) Jan 19, 2011
"contemporary relationships are becoming more male-centered than ever, with men gaining access to sex earlier and more often, yet providing fewer and later commitments than a generation ago."

Excellent!
tpb
4 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2011
Sazzle,
As an evolutionary imperative, men needed to control womans reproduction to ensure that their own genes were propagated to the next generation.
Men had no other way to ensure that the child was theirs. Women being the possession of men is a consequence of this.
The woman always knew that the child was hers.
Technology can/has/will change this.
Unfortunately a modern society has very little use for the characteristics men have evolved to have, strength, aggression, possessiveness towards the female, sexual promiscuity etc.
Society has been changing to give rights to the female that are a detriment to the male, whether this is fair or not may be irrelevant to the health of our society.
For example, woman can abort the mans child and the man has no say. This, from the male point of view is fundamentally unfair.
tpb
3 / 5 (2) Jan 19, 2011
Continuation.
Female reproductive rights have changed attitudes towards unmarried mothers, but there are social consequences.
You can see this with blacks in the USA.
Extremely high percentage of single mothers ~95%, and the results.
A high percentage of males with no male role models, with no purpose in life, uneducated and with high crime rate and incarceration.
Mens evolutionary role as the protector and provider for his mate and children doesn't exist anymore with the state taking over these roles.
We as a society are making massive changes in gender roles, while ignoring evolutionary imperatives.
Human nature, both male and female is wired in.
I think we are all going to be sorry if we don't take our basic innate natures into account as we change roles in our society.
trekgeek1
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 19, 2011

If there's no God, there's no moral authority to answer to so one can go to the extreme as one wishes - no consequences in the long run to worry about.


Really? Because I thought people still had to live with themselves, their conscience, laws, opinions of family and friends, etc. People who don't believe in god still have to answer for their actions. I don't believe, and I don't commit crimes because it's contrary to my nature. In fact, I feel much more comfortable knowing murderers will go to prison, rather than possibly going to hell. What comfort does that give us here on Earth? None. I feel better knowing that humans will take care of them.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (6) Jan 19, 2011
I get amused at the falsehoods spread on threads such as this, in which people falsely claim that women were ever the "possession" of the man.

If you're talking about pagans such as Genghis Khan, I woudl agree, he was basicly a glorified mass murder and multiple rapist, and people somehow find that fascinating.

But in general in "western civilization" anyone who claims that women were the "property" of men is a liar.

Elizabeth was the monarch of England, for goodness sake.

I wouldn't want some woman to be my "possession". I don't know where you people come up with this crap anyway. That would probably be extremely boring and un-interesting. I hope I end up with a woman who doesn't need me for money or status.

The reason christians are opposed to abortion is not "merely" to protect their own genes, but because abortion is morally wrong in and of itself, regardless of who's child it is.

Now, of course, I realize atheists don't believe in morality except popular vote...
Quantum_Conundrum
1.1 / 5 (8) Jan 19, 2011

If there's no God, there's no moral authority to answer to so one can go to the extreme as one wishes - no consequences in the long run to worry about.


Really? Because I thought people still had to live with themselves, their conscience, laws, opinions of family and friends, etc.


Presumes people have a conscience that still works. By the time you count abortions, our murder rate in America is well over 10 percent. We're more godless than baal worshippers of the ancient world. Where is the conscience? It is dead.

The MAJORITY of the people in the country meet the traditional defintion of a whore or whoremonger, moreover, sexual immorality is now actively encouraged by campaigns such as the "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" commercials, which often have the theme of encouraging the viewer to go to Vegas and hook up and cheat on their spouse.

this is our "seared conscience" generation, who flat out doesn't care about what is right or wrong.
panorama
4 / 5 (4) Jan 19, 2011
Now, of course, I realize atheists don't believe in morality except popular vote...

Judge lest ye be judged....amirite?!

The MAJORITY of the people in the country meet the traditional defintion of a whore or whoremonger

and again...
dtxx
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 19, 2011
this is our "seared conscience" generation, who flat out doesn't care about the Jesus fairytale.


Fixed that for you, no charge JL Jr.

Sure sucks when your fairytale can't scare people into acting exactly how you want, doesn't it? :)
dtxx
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 19, 2011
And if we would like to discuss morality, I'd much rather take my chances with any murderer or rapist than someone who would send me to eternal fiery torment because I refuse to fall down on my knees and scream "you're the best ever!!!"

But you know, that's totally moral, because he according to the fairytale he gets to do that and it can't be questioned.
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (6) Jan 19, 2011
I get amused at the falsehoods spread on threads such as this, in which people falsely claim that women were ever the "possession" of the man.

If you're talking about pagans such as Genghis Khan, I woudl agree, he was basicly a glorified mass murder and multiple rapist, and people somehow find that fascinating.

The Abrahamic Religions are all about sexual equality, right? There are a lot of female Catholic priests out there. And Islam - the poster religion for feminism!
Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (6) Jan 19, 2011
If only males could supress their testosterone for a few weeks and see the world as it really is. This planet would be so much more pleasant than it currently is.


Here's some unsuppressed testosterone...kindly fuck off. No really I mean it. If any of us of the "weaker sex" said anything as asinine, offensive, and sexist as that...well let's just say we'd get no less kind a response.

Moron...
Donutz
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 19, 2011

If there's no God, there's no moral authority to answer to so one can go to the extreme as one wishes - no consequences in the long run to worry about.


Right. Because when everyone ascribed ultimate authority to the magical sky fairy, things were SO much better. It's SO much more acceptable to engage in violent immoral behaviour when god approves! And btw, I can't think of a BETTER reason for a moral stance than the fear of punishment (that's sarcasm in case you missed it).

There's an article by Steven Pinker that makes the case (quite well) that we live in the most civil, civilized era in history. If kev's thesis is that the current era is a result of secular values taking over, then damned good thing as far as I'm concerned.

google keywords: edge pinker history of violence

I can't believe the backflips you have to do to get a perfectly legitimate URL reference through this insane physorg system.
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) Jan 19, 2011
While I've recently been questioning my religious views there does seem to be some value in an appeal to a perceived authority "higher" than those of human beings. We have pretty piss poor built in "moral breaks" without it sometimes...
Donutz
5 / 5 (2) Jan 19, 2011
Here's some unsuppressed testosterone...kindly fuck off. No really I mean it. If any of us of the "weaker sex" said anything as asinine, offensive, and sexist as that...well let's just say we'd get no less kind a response.


Although Mystic's language may be a little florid, I agree with his point. Moral behaviour, to be meaningful, must be symmetrical rather than situational (btw, kev, this is where your supposed superior moral system falls down heavily). In the present environment, women can make any toxic, bigoted, chauvinistic comment they want and expect to get away with it, but make a comment even slightly sexist ABOUT women, and your life isn't worth jack.
Donutz
4.2 / 5 (6) Jan 19, 2011
While I've recently been questioning my religious views there does seem to be some value in an appeal to a perceived authority "higher" than those of human beings. We have pretty piss poor built in "moral breaks" without it sometimes...


The problem is that the stated source of said authority - the bible - is a considerably LESS "higher authority" than current secular morality requires. Adopting biblical values, for all that ppl like kev sing their praises, would set us back centuries at minimum. Welcome back, slavery. Welcome back, institutionalized bigotry. Welcome back, overt sexism. Welcome back thought control, death and torture, arbitrary arrest, I could go on and on. The bible is NOT a basis to build a society on, unless you're a psycopath.
But hey, it's an ABSOLUTE immorality, so maybe that's preferable?
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (4) Jan 19, 2011
Well current secular morality includes North Korea, China...

I agree with you that western secular values are, by and large, pretty good. That isn't the problem though. The problems don't come when they're good and working, the problem is when they go off the rails and craziness to the level of bat shittery raises it's head. Then we get world wars and 60 million dead Chinese folks...
trekgeek1
4 / 5 (8) Jan 20, 2011

Presumes people have a conscience that still works. By the time you count abortions, our murder rate in America is well over 10 percent.

You have decided that is immoral. It is not universally established as so. I can claim that 85% of Americans are immoral because they are Christian. We can't start making our own definitions. You must demonstrate that a certain action is immoral.


We're more godless than baal worshippers of the ancient world.

They have a god you dip shit. It's just not yours. Plus, Baal means god, just like Allah does. It is not necessarily a specific god. Any one of the imaginary gods of today will work, like yours.


The MAJORITY of the people in the country meet the traditional defintion of a whore or whoremonger, moreover, sexual immorality is now actively encouraged ....


Being promiscuous with a consenting adult while practicing safe sex isn't immoral, it's a choice.
Moebius
2 / 5 (4) Jan 20, 2011
I didn't say men owned women, but I think throughout much of history they essentially did. What I meant was that before the 19th century men picked the women they wanted and women were more interested in a man's innate worth and his ability to support them and a family rather than looks. Now most women choose men solely on the basis of looks because they can work and support themselves, and some are choosing other women. I think this is a bad evolutionary trend for men, what its effect on society will be only time will tell. The world and our species might be better off with women running things. However I think the result will be that women will become more like men and men will become more like women and sexual dimorphism will start to disappear, if it hasn't already.

A couple hundred thousand years of not being able to choose had to have had an evolutionary effect on women, that is if you believe in evolution. Another hundred of this will have an effect too.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 21, 2011
Women are now better educated - meaning they now fully subscribe to the evolutionary ideals of being nothing more than scum from a pond, having the same sexual urges as animals and wanting to indulge exactly like that - whenever and wherever they can.

Of course that is what most [evolutionarily inclined] men desire - no strings attached to total indulgence of the physical craving.

If there's no God, there's no moral authority to answer to so one can go to the extreme as one wishes - no consequences in the long run to worry about.

This is simply what is being revealed here - the aftermath - or at least the beginning of it.

No, it's because Intelligent men are now considered to be a commodity as opposed to ignorant fools like yourself.

Well current secular morality includes North Korea, China...
No. Organ harvesting the religious because they're religious is not moral in the secular world, it is in China when dealing with Falun Gong adherants.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (4) Jan 21, 2011
I know this won't be a popular opinion but do you think any real men honestly believe women's rights have benefited society? It has benefited women at men's expense. The reality is there are 2 intelligent species on this planet and one has to be dominant, co-existence is a myth. Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily believe mine should come out on top.
This is one of the dumber things I've ever read. Of course it is of great benefit to society for women to be educated.

Why do you think the US was able to continue to be a world leader after generations of men were killed in war? Any country that artificially limits their intellectually capable human populace by 50% is bound to fail.
Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (4) Jan 21, 2011
No. Organ harvesting the religious because they're religious is not moral in the secular world, it is in China when dealing with Falun Gong adherants.


I get that, all I'm saying is that when speaking of secular morality one can't only consider the good...in fact, like with any other "kind of morality" it's more instructive to look at the bad.

This is why when debating secular vs non-secular morality adherents will always point out the failures of the opposing sides rather than the successes. That being said it's not very helpful to ignore the weakness in your own position, nor the strengths in your opponents...
Skeptic_Heretic
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 21, 2011
This is why when debating secular vs non-secular morality adherents will always point out the failures of the opposing sides rather than the successes. It's not very helpful to ignore the weakness in your own position, nor the strengths in your opponents...
I think it's more to do with an inability to see that your basic framework, on which most daily decisions are made, is wrong.

It's very difficult to admit you've made a mistake when your core self might rely on a truth that is no longer true to you.

Modernmystic
3.5 / 5 (6) Jan 21, 2011
It's very difficult to admit you've made a mistake when your core self might rely on a truth that is no longer true to you.


I can certainly relate to that one. I think most people past 25 can...
maxcypher
not rated yet Jan 23, 2011
As best as I can see, morality is shaped by one's goals. If one's goal is to please one's parents, then one takes on their values. If it is to please some imaginary, higher being then one takes on the values used to describe that being. If it is solely to please one's own ego, then even sociopathic behavior could be considered 'moral' to the perpetrator. Of course, we usually have a multitude of goals, so we get followers of "The Lord of Peace" fighting in brutal wars or burning free-thinking women as witches.
Code_Warrior
5 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2011
Sazzle - I love you, please don't go! 8)....any way please forgive Kev, he is seriously retarded in social stuff; kinda like an alien. You learn to ignore him after awhile. please stick around, we need and I value input from such beautiful minds as yours. Pleeeeeease!

You get one star for putting your balls in sazzle's purse, unless you're a woman, in which case you get 1 star for being a pathetic suck up. Turn in your man/woman/hermaphrodite card:)
CitizenWhy
not rated yet Jan 24, 2011
Could the next step for women to develop a custom of "kept men"? You know pay for a guy to be available and accommodating on a long term basis. The giggalo system has worked well enough for prosperous European women. Maybe it will work for US women too.