Monday, January 12, 2004

From The Chicago Tribune (they make you register to read)
Study: sex, love (or lack thereof) and loneliness in Chicago
The link has been fixed.

A few money quotes:

While people of other generations tended to marry shortly after entering the work force and remain married to the same spouse, today's marriages occur later in life and often are briefer. That trend has led to new ways of coping, such as elaborate networks in which singles search for companionship and sex.

"Chicagoans are destined to spend half their lives as single people, and half their single years will be spent alone," said sociologist Edward O. Laumann, leader of the research team. "Yet, we already know that sexual well-being is very much associated with happiness and the quality of life. The implications for the future are troubling."

Could it be that, before the 'revolution' at the end of the 1960s, people were happier and healthier sexually?

Ideally, as I understand traditional societies work at their best, people marry young and become full-fledged adults when their bodies tell them to, though they are still young and inexperienced adults - they need the support of the larger community (extended family, the village). The young wife has help caring for children and the young husband can be an apprentice learning a trade.

With modernity, you get the worst vices of adults at younger and younger ages while at the same time childhood (adolescence) is unnaturally prolonged - causing the unhappiness the study describes.

The survey found that, on average, Chicagoans stay married for 18 years, cohabit for 3.7 years and either are unattached or dating the rest of the time.

Note how short-lived cohabitation is compared to marriage - something my own observation of acquaintances my age over 15 years has shown me as well.


The survey uncovered the importance of an emotion neglected by previous researchers: jealousy.

"The rise in cohabitation has increased domestic violence because people who cohabit are much more likely to experience jealousy," Laumann said.

"Because of the lack of commitment in a 'cohab,' people enter it being a lot more mistrustful."

The researchers found that adultery breaks up Chicago area marriages at a rate of about 4 percent a year. However, when the adultery occurs among people who are living together but unmarried, the defection rate jumps to 15 to 20 percent.

"That means fighting increases, and with it the likelihood of physical violence," Laumann said. "These are fragile relationships, and domestic violence because of sexual jealousy is a problem in all the communities we studied."

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