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Fewer Sex Partners Means a Happier Marriage

People who have had sex with fewer people seem to be more satisfied after they tie the knot. Is there hope for promiscuous romantics?

By Olga Khazan

See Why

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 Psychologists Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley found that the study respondents who had sex with other people prior to marriage reported lower-quality unions compared to couples who slept just with each other.

more partners = less happiness

Multiple sex partners prior to marriage reduced marital quality for women, but not men. Along similar lines, sociologist Jay Teachman showed that premarital sex between future spouses didn’t make divorce more likely, but sex with other people did. A study from the 1980s reported similar findings.

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Dopamine (DA) acting on D2, but not on D1, receptors in the nucleus accumbens
(NAc) promotes partner preference formation in both male and female prairie
voles (e.g., Liu and Wang 2003;

The brain OT system is significantly contributing to pair bond formation as 
has been demonstrated initially in females by Sue Carter’s group 
(Williams et al. 1994). Prairie voles have higher densities of OT receptor
(OTR) OTR in the NAc than do non-monogamous vole species, and several 
studies have characterized the role of intra-NAc OR activation in 
facilitating partner preference formation in female, but not male, prairie
voles (Liu and Wang 2003; Ross et al. 2009a, b; Keebaugh and Young 2011).

Since positive attachment relationships promote our physical and emotional 
well-being, this implies that the abrupt isolation can have dramatic negative 
consequences. Indeed, in humans the absence or loss of social relationships is
accompanied by an increased risk for health issues (Uchino 2006; Uchino et al.
1996; Biondi and Picardi 1996; DeVries et al. 2003; House et al. 1988;
Kirschbaum et al. 1995; Cacioppo and Hawkley 2003),
including cardiovascular diseases

Dopamine (DA) acting on D2, but not on D1, receptors in the nucleus accumbens 
(NAc) promotes partner preference formation in both male and female prairie
voles (e.g., Liu and Wang 2003; Aragona et al. 2006; for review, see Young 
et al. 2011; Young and Wang 2004). In contrast, activation of D1 receptors is
thought to play a key role in the maintenance of an established pair bond in 
male prairie voles (Aragona et al. 2006).

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