Study points out risks of nonromantic sexual relationships

April 1, 2010, University of Iowa

A University of Iowa study found that one-third of sexual relationships in the Chicago area lack exclusivity. One in 10 men and women reported that both they and their partner had slept with other people.

Lovers in "friends with benefits" situations or those "hooking up" with a stranger or acquaintance proved much more likely to have multiple partners, according to the survey of 783 heterosexual adults.

Researchers are interested in the topic because concurrent partnerships speed up the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, said Anthony Paik, a sociologist in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and author of the study published in the latest issue of the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

"The United States has seen a major shift toward nonromantic sexual partnerships -- people becoming sexually involved when they are just casually dating or not dating at all," Paik said. "A quarter of the respondents became sexually involved while casually dating and a fifth did so as friends or acquaintances."

Respondents, ranging in age from 18 to 60, were asked how many people they had been with during their most recent relationship. They also estimated how many partners their partner had during that time. Sexual involvement was defined as genital contact.

Overall, 17 percent of men and 5 percent of acknowledged that they had been with someone else. Another group -- 17 percent of women and 8 percent of men -- said they'd been exclusive but their partner had not. Twelve percent of women and 10 percent of men said neither of them had been monogamous.

Being involved with a friend increased the likelihood of non-monogamy by 44 percent for women and 25 percent for men. Involvement with an acquaintance or stranger increased the odds by 30 percent for women and 43 percent for men.

The study also found that respondents who got along with each other's parents were less likely to have multiple sex partners. Paik said people are less likely to risk a relationship when they take family stakeholders into consideration.

Paik said the research does not lead to the conclusion that efforts should be made to revive dating.

"People can make their own choices, but we hope this information will be useful as they weigh the risks and rewards of nonromantic ," he said. "We encourage people be aware of the potential for sexual concurrency and take appropriate precautions to avoid sexually transmitted infections."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Fasting diets reduce important risk factor for cardiovascular disease

March 19, 2018
Intermittent energy restriction diets such as the 5:2 diet clears fat from the blood quicker after eating meals compared with daily calorie restriction diets, reducing an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, ...

Small changes in diet can have a big impact on health

March 19, 2018
How's that New Year's resolution coming along? Getting ready for summer and want to look your best? Just want to feel better physically? Whatever your motivation, Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, an assistant professor of nutrition ...

Multiple screen use affects snack choices

March 19, 2018
Using multiple screen devices simultaneously while snacking may influence food choices, according to a new Michigan State University study.

Mediterranean diet is linked to higher muscle mass, bone density after menopause

March 18, 2018
The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet also appears to be good for an older woman's bones and muscles, a new study of postmenopausal women in Brazil finds. The study results will be presented Monday at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine ...

Chemicals in lavender and tea tree oil appear to be hormone disruptors

March 17, 2018
A new study lends further evidence to a suspected link between abnormal breast growth in young boys—called prepubertal gynecomastia—and regular exposure to lavender or tea tree oil, by finding that key chemicals in these ...

Exposure to low levels of BPA during pregnancy can lead to altered brain development

March 17, 2018
New research in mice provides an explanation for how exposure to the widely used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy, even at levels lower than the regulated "safe" human exposure level, can lead to altered brain ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.