Sunday, August 26, 2007

Does it pay to playboy?



Continuing the theme of being misled on family matters, the Sexual Revolution spread the message that uninhibited sex is essential to psychological health and happiness. Men, of course, have been only too happy to embrace this idea, especially the playboy version of it. Monogamy and marriage are cages, right? Like the one bull said to the other as they looked down on a herd of cows: why run and grab one, when you can strut down and have them all?

Well, GSS data show us that this kind of attitude doesn't deliver. The bottom two charts display happiness by the number of sexual partners had in the past year. At the very left are celibates, then one partner, then two, etc. The last two categories are 5-10 partners and 11-20. (21-100 were left off due to insufficient cases). For both men and women, people with one parter are much more likely to be very happy than any other group. (I'll grant that the most promiscuous male group is as low on "not too happy" people as among the monogamous group, but the sample size is small, and the rest of the multiple-partner groups are higher). Contrary to what the sexual experts have been telling us, celibacy does not make men less happy than promiscuity, and celibate women have a higher percent in the "very happy" group than in any multiple-partner group.

Of course, much of the happiness reported by monogamous people is connected to the fact that they are married. The top chart shows that married folks are much happier than people in all other statuses, including the wild and free category of never-marrieds. Prison turns out to be a refuge.


  1. Anonymous7:01 AM

    celibate women have a higher percent in the "very happy" group than in any multiple-partner group

    My guess: many celibate women are devoutly religious people who are "saving" themselves for marriage.
    They are happy not so much because they are celibate as because they are so religious.

  2. Anonymous11:22 AM

    I think marrage is desirable if it is a "soul-mate" type marrage. That is, a marrage of like-minded people who share the same interests and goals in life. A perfect example is the couple I met in Mexico some years ago who had built a trimeran and were in the process of sailing around the world. Both he and she were outdoorsy, adventurist types and were very happy together. A relationship where you and your wife are best friends (like my marrage) is certainly more desirable and fullfilling than the "swinging single" life.

    However, I think the typical "non-soulmate" marrage that you see in much of suburbia, where the partners have little in common, argue and bicker all the time, is a situation that is very unhealthy, psychologically speaking. Such people are much better off remaining single.

    The following link is to an example of a very unpleasent situation that is best avoided (

  3. That's not what suburbia is like, on average.

  4. This doesn't explain why blacks (who are the most promiscuous racial group) have lower rates of stress, extreme depression and suicide than other racial groups. Nor does it explain why people in sexless marriages are more miserable than nearly everyone else.


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